A gratitude jar is similar to a gratitude journal. You write little messages about the things that you are grateful for, then place them in a gratitude jar or box. It is that simple. But don’t let the simplicity of a gratitude jar underestimate its impact.
Whether you use a gratitude jar, a gratitude journal, or whatever – you are consciously focused on gratitude, instead of lack. Gratitude is beneficial to our mental, emotional, and physical well-being. When we practice daily gratitude, we are better equipped to control our thoughts and moods.
But the practice of daily gratitude is so much more than that. When you make a habit out of practicing gratitude, your brain starts to change – literally. Neuroscientists say that…
What this means is that the more a neural circuit in your brain is used, the stronger it gets. In other words, by regularly practicing thankfulness, the “grateful” and “happy” neural circuits strengthen. Being grateful for what you have makes you feel good, and with practice, thankfulness becomes your default setting.
If, however, you focus on everything that is missing from your life; you tend to feel bad. If you are continuously nitpicking and looking for reasons to criticize, you will naturally build neural circuits in your brain that cause you to look at the world through critical eyes. It stands to reason that feeling bad all the time can negatively affect your mental health.
But you don’t have to be a neuroscientist for this to make sense. Think about the different people in your life, and how one person may constantly complain, no matter what. This is not necessarily because bad things are continually happening, but rather because he/she naturally looks for the bad… instead of the good. This is the person who wins the lottery and complains about the taxes that would have to be paid.
But changing our thinking takes time. After all, it took years to establish the neural pathways that you have now. So as you embark on this gratitude journey, be kind and patient with yourself, and remember that you are worthy of the effort. Once those “gratitude” neural pathways are securely established, you’ll see the world through “happy and grateful eyes.”
How to make a gratitude jar
Use an old-fashioned glass jar or a mason jar. The larger the jar, the more notes of gratitude you can fill it with. Having said that, don’t start out with the biggest jar you can find – start slow and work your way up to a larger jar.
Tie a pretty ribbon around your jar. This is completely optional, but if it is pretty, you may be more enticed to add notes in there.
For your gratitude notes, cut up several pieces of paper, or place a post-it notepad next to your jar.
How to use a gratitude jar
At least once daily, write gratitude notes—one thing you are grateful for, per paper. Fold it and add it to your gratitude jar. You can pick a good time of the day for you to sit down quietly and reflect on your day and your life.
Scientists say it takes 21 days for a habit to form, so commit to at least 21 days to write your little gratitude notes and add them to your gratitude jar.
Consciously look for things to be grateful for. As you move through your days and think of more things to be thankful for, remind yourself to add them to your gratitude jar.
Beautiful examples of gratitude notes to inspire you.
But even with a positive mindset, life tends to knock us down now and then. (According to the law of rhythm, this is inevitable.) When you feel down and you need a little pick-me-up, open your gratitude jar and remind yourself of all that you have to be grateful for.
Also, train yourself to look at the bright side. As with every other human being, I’ve gone through some difficult times. Years later, however, as I reflect on the most difficult moments in my life, I am always grateful for them. For example, I got dumped by someone I thought I’d spend my life with, and then met my husband – my favorite person in the entire universe! Of course, we can’t see the benefits when we’re trapped in those difficult moments, but it is very empowering to know and believe that good will come from this!
I’ve been training myself for years, and so now when the bad times roll around, I allow myself a very brief period to feel the anger, frustration, hurt, etc. Then, I start looking for what good is going to come from this. I encourage you to do the same because when you do that; you are taking yourself out of the victim, depressed, helpless mode, and you’re putting yourself into a more proactive solutions mode. It is very empowering! My attitude now is – bring it on! You’ve got nothing on me! No difficult circumstance is stronger than my ability to fight it and see through it.
Free, Instant Download Gratitude Jar Printables and Worksheets