On my “2018: Annual Review” post, I’ve mentioned my Jar of Awesome as something that went well last year. So, let me expand on that, going all the way back to the year of 2012…
What is that blur I see?
In late 2011, I spent a couple of days reflecting on my life and came to the realization that the memories of many years were a blur. The good habit I once had of expressing gratitude simply vanished. I then decided to start keeping track of my gratitude again.
I then created a note in Evernote named “Gratitude – 2012”, tagged “gratitude”. In that note, I’d add whatever things I was grateful for. Sometimes I wouldn’t realize I was grateful for something and wouldn’t write it down. Sometimes I’d say to to myself “I’ll write it when I get a chance”, and would simply forget to do it. That year, I wrote down 22 things I was greatful for.
I continued doing that every year since. In 2013, I only wrote down 2 things, and in 2014, 6 things. I had to kick it up a notch.
Comes 2015, I write down 100 things! In 2016, 201 things!! Now we’re talking…
Why’s that important?
As the years went by, I went back to those lists to fill up my mind with good things that happened. Quite often I’d read something I had forgotten about: maybe I had been grateful to something someone did for me, and that was a good reminder for me to get in touch with that person, checking how he or she was doing, and maybe express my gratitude to the person again (heck, maybe at the time I had felt grateful but never told the person about it).
This type of approach has helped me keep the momentum when life’s good. But most importantly, it has helped me remember that if the current moment or day isn’t so great, I’ve had better days, and I can probably have it again!
What changed since 2016?
My gratitude note for 2017 only has 60 items. That’s ok, though. At one point in that year I started using The Five-Minute Journal, which features a section to write three things I’m thankful for on a daily basis. At the end of the year I scanned to pages and stored in Evernote.
While all of my previous ways to track gratitude had been working out well, I wanted to give it more exposure, so for 2018 I decided to try something different and implemented the Jar of Awesome. The jar was placed on a counter close to where I normally drop my backpack off every day as I get back from work, so it was very easy to be reminded to take a moment and think about things I’m grateful for.
The placement of the jar is also an invite for my family to join in! While they’re still somewhat shy, I’m no longer the only one expressing gratitude in this way.
Within about three months, the jar was full, and we had to move on to a bigger one! Whenever we’re writing down things we’re grateful for and putting it in the jar, we say “we’re making a deposit”.
Comes December 31st, the bigger jar is completely full!
So, what’s next?
The question as the year ended was: “Now what? What do we do with those little piece of papers?”.
One aspect I liked about my previous ways of tracking gratitude was that I could easily go back in time and review it, relive moments, reach out to people. How can I have the same sort of experience with the jar? Here’s what I came up with: every morning, my wife and I pick 10 gratitude “deposits” each, and we read out loud each one, reliving the experiences for a quick moment, and charging up for a new day.
So far, we have already opened 460 deposits and it looks like there’s still 40 or so to go!! After we’re done opening all of them, we’ll burn it to send it out to the universe. 🙂
The jar is currently receiving deposits for 2019. May it be full again by the end of the year!