Any month will do, but January is the perfect time to create a gratitude jar to start the new year on a positive note.
As humans, it’s common for us to look for the bad – not because we are cynical – but because we are looking for what we have to fix in our lives. The downside to this way of thinking is that we can miss small and beautiful aspects of our lives.
Creating a habit of gratitude such as a gratitude jar is a great way to switch our mind into “I am enough,” or “I already have enough” mode, rather than constantly seeking more.
“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.”
– Oprah Winfrey
The word “gratitude” is derived from the Latin word “gratia,” which literally translates as “grace.” Interestingly, the word grace is defined as “smoothness and elegance of movement,” and “courteous goodwill,” which speaks of bringing flow and harmony into your life.
Another phrase for gratia in Latin is “gratus animus.” “Gratus” means grateful, agreeable, pleasing, acceptable and welcome. “Animus” means heart, mind, affections, purpose and feeling.
As you can see, gratitude runs deep, and as such makes a huge impact on our perspective of life.
What is a Gratitude Jar?
Starting a gratitude jar is an amazing step toward having a year filled with hope and joy.
A gratitude jar can be as simple as a used and washed jar that you keep to put notes of gratitude in.
Each time you experience or have feelings of gratitude, write them down and place them in your gratitude jar. Creating a focus on the great things in your life will bring more of them to you.
“Be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.”
— Lao Tzu
Starting Your Gratitude Jar in 4 Easy Steps
Starting a gratitude jar is easy, so don’t let perfectionism get in your way. The most important thing is getting started.
Here are four simple steps to start your gratitude jar:
Step 1 – Source a Jar
Any type of jar will work to get started. It could be an old jam jar that you’ve washed, a cup, or a mason jar – whatever you have handy. You can buy specially made Gratitude Jars on Amazon or Etsy if you’d prefer.
Step 2 – Label the Gratitude Jar
Write in permanent pen, acrylic paint or label your jar with the word GRATITUDE (unless you’ve bought a premade Gratitude Jar or stickers).
Step 3 – Keep a Pen and Paper Near the Jar
Ideally, cut the paper into pre-made strips so that you can tear off a strip and place it in your jar to save space. You can use various colors of ink or paper to signify different types of things you’re grateful for and organize them later when you read them.
Step 4 – Place the Jar in a Memorable Location
Keep it in a place that’s always readily available and make sure to fill your jar each day, or anytime something happens that you are grateful for.
How to Decorate a Gratitude Jar
If you or your family are artistic, then decorating your gratitude jar will be a fun exercise. However, if you feel that decorating your gratitude jar will simply put an un-necessary step in the way, then there is no need. Simply write or stick the word “Gratitude” on your jar and then you are all set.
If you want to get more creative, there are ready-made gratitude jar printables you can download. You can buy ribbons and tie them around the rim of your jar.
If you want to get fancy you can use enamel acrylic paint – which is paint that is specifically formulated for glass. There are tons of YouTube videos about painting glass that you can watch if you want to make an art project of decorating your gratitude jar.
What is a Family Gratitude Jar?
Much like a personal gratitude jar, a family gratitude jar is a place to store daily or weekly notes of gratitude for everyone in the family.
A family gratitude jar is a perfect way to set the tone for your family. Making gratitude part of family life helps spread positivity to everyone in your home.
One popular way is to set aside a time every day where each member of the family expresses one thing that they are grateful for that day. This could be at bedtime or in the morning to set the tone for the day.
Even better, keep your gratitude jar activity as a way to spread love and gratitude at the dinner table.
Sharing a gratitude jar with your family will encourage family members to have a grateful disposition. This counteracts feelings of entitlement, envy, and resentment, which are feelings that push people away from us.
As such, a family gratitude jar encourages each member of the family to practice thinking in a positive way that will bring joy and prosperity.
Examples of things to be grateful for include:
- Kind words or deeds
- Unexpected gifts
- Visiting grandparents or other family members
- A new pet
- Good health
- School accomplishments
- A new baby brother or sister
- A raise at work or a new job
The act of thinking about what we are grateful for reminds us of the good things in life. We can then practice acting this way toward others.
Will Gratitude Change Your Life?
A growing body of research surrounding the benefits of gratitude has been created that shows gratitude helps people cherish good experiences, enhances relationships and increases positive emotions.
Carrying out acts of gratitude, keeping a gratitude jar or a gratitude journal, and even sending a thank you card helps us reframe our thoughts towards what we have, and are grateful for, rather than what we lack.
Practicing gratitude on a daily basis and being grateful for the good things when they happen will open our eyes to more things to be grateful for and is a recognized way of increasing overall happiness.
How to Use Your Gratitude Jar
Journaling is great, but it’s not for everyone. Some people just don’t like journaling. In this case, a gratitude jar is a brilliant alternative because it simply takes less work to receive the benefits.
When you’re having a down day (let’s face it, we all have them), you can pull notes out of your jar to remind yourself of all of the blessings in your life. You can then think about how you are supported and how everything will work out. This can boost your mood on bad days and elevate the good days even more.
Try using a gratitude jar for 30 days and see how it turns things around for you. If you’re brave you might even go for a whole year of gratitude.
To get the most out of a gratitude jar, create a daily routine and commit to adding new notes each morning or night.
For those recovering from addiction or mental health issues, establishing a daily routine has a positive impact on recovery. A gratitude jar is a wonderful tool to put this into practice any time, and especially when creating a fresh start at the beginning of the new year.
Alo House is LegitScript Certified and a Joint Commission Accredited Addiction Treatment Center.
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