One of the exercises that people love in my workshops involves my Gratitude Jar. I heard about this concept while I was writing my own book on gratitude, and I adopted it whole-heartedly, putting my own spin on this simple but transformational exercise.
The Gratitude Jar Exercise
It turned out to be a perfect fit for my Spread Thanks message because it’s a hands-on way to feel the power of being thankful. In my workshops, I pre-fill the large jar with phrases that each participant can pick out and it prompts them to recall a specific thank you note they wrote or didn’t write, a time that they wish they could go back to in order to deliver a thank you, or a particular thank you that they received that touched their hearts. I provide all kinds of different prompts and each phrase gets the person really thinking about the power of gratitude and how it can change his or her life.
If you like this concept of working with a Gratitude Jar, you can do it yourself anytime and I highly recommend it. Let me explain a bit of how you can adopt this at home and then we can talk about how to top up your own (hypothetical and physical) Gratitude Jar.
Creating Your Own Gratitude Jar Exercise
So first, just find a jar or box, something pretty I like to say, so you can leave it out on the counter or on your desk for whenever you might need it. Feel free to decorate your jar or box in a way that makes you happy. You can use bright ribbons, stickers, fancy tape or glitter. Or match it to the décor in your home or office so it fits right in. Whatever you do, just make it your own.
Then add paper and a pen or pencil to your jar or box, so you can write your own sentences and notes of gratitude, without having to scramble around looking for materials. Whenever you find yourself sad, distracted or stuck in your own thoughts, use your Gratitude Jar to break out of your funk and find joy again. Each time you reach for your jar, start by writing down three specific things you are thankful for.
How To Fill Your Gratitude Jar
If you need a reminder, look at some of your notes from before that are already in your jar, or think about the last time you felt a rush of joy. Was it when you heard from an old friend who called out of the blue? Was it when you got a surprise present for no good reason? Was it when you got a clean bill of health following your last blood test? You can be thankful for anything and everything, just write it down and drop it in the jar. Feel the happiness about that thing and feel your energy and your mood lift you up from the doldrums.
This exercise is cumulative, and as you continue to drop in handwritten notes about the wonderful things you are thankful for, you will see your jar or box filling up with all the good in your life. Even simple things like how your cat nuzzles against you when you come home from work, or how a fresh light rain feels on your skin — you can be thankful for anything that gives you a warm or happy feeling.
Keep adding at least three items to the jar every time you think about it, or whenever you feel down and you need to pick up your own energy level. Before long, you’ll see that your Gratitude Jar is brimming over with goodness and love, and you can’t help but feel better about your life in general. If you ever need inspiration for new things to jot down, read over some past items you wrote to get you in the mood for gratitude.
And of course, I want to remind you that you can continue the goodness and gratitude track you are on and take it to the next level at any point you choose. It’s easy! Try spreading thanks to other people through sending out a handwritten thank you note to another person. That’s what my Spread Thanks movement is all about — spreading that warm feeling of gratitude to other people, through one card each day. There are all kinds of ideas and how-to techniques on my website of how to make this a daily habit that will transform your life even further than your jar or box.
And if you are stuck in any way, on any day, trying to think about who to send your daily thank you note to — just reach into your own Gratitude Jar for inspiration. It’s a wonderful, circular exercise that has no beginning and no end!
Gratitude is an excellent way to get more of what you really want in your life, and it’s just a note away. Whether you start with a note in your jar or a note in the mail, all it takes is to take action. @Elena_M_Anguita (Click to Tweet!)
I would love to hear how you feel watching your jar fill up with goodness and how good it feels to send an actual thank you card out to someone else. I appreciate you sharing your experiences and thank you for spreading thanks in your corner of the world.
Elena Anguita is a change agent, speaker, and author of Spread Thanks! Create Miracles Through The Power of Ink who supports education and passionately believes in the transformative power of gratitude. You can connect with Elena on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and SpreadThanks.com
Image courtesy of Jon Ander.