Adonis Diaries

A Happiness Jar?

Posted on: January 2, 2016

A Happiness Jar?

Those of you who’ve followed this page for years know that I have this sacred object in my life called a HAPPINESS JAR.

Mine is a big old glass apothecary jar that I found at an antique store years ago, but the vessel itself doesn’t really matter. What matters is what’s inside of it.

Elizabeth Gilbert's photo.

Elizabeth GilbertLike Page

Every day, at the end of the day, I write down the happiest moment of my day, and I put it in the jar. It’s that easy. It takes one minute — if that.

I don’t use fancy paper or special pens; I usually just rip off the corner of a bill, and jot down the happy moment somewhere on a blank spot and throw it in the jar. (And the date? and the time of day?)

Done and done.

There is no simpler or less-demanding spiritual practice in my life than this one — when I literally take note of my gratitude for a moment in my day when things felt good, or I felt lucky, or I merely remembered that I was alive.

It’s incredible how consistently tiny and insignificant these happy moments usually are.

There don’t tend to be rock star moments — moments of glory or huge success.

They seem to be moments of tiny human connection, or an unexpected bit of humor, or the glimpse of a cardinal out of the corner of my eye, or moment of peace during a busy day.

My happiest moments are infinitesimally small, but over the years, they have caused this jar to overflow many times over

The other odd thing is, I have noticed over the years that some of my happy moments occur right in the middle of a tough or painful moments.

To be comforted by a friend when you are sad or angry can be a happy moment, right in the midst of a very bad one.

To have just five minutes to sit quietly and catch your breath during a stressful and exhausting week can be a happy moment.

To find a seat on the bus can be a happy moment.

To make the green light at that intersection where you usually have to sit in traffic for what feels like an eternity can be a happy moment.

To have the customer service representative from the bank be nice and patient with you on the phone can be a happy moment.

To have somebody bring you a cup of coffee when you’re tired and pissed off can be a happy moment. Last year, I became ill on a 10-hour flight, and it was just awful — but there was this one stewardess who was so kind to me that it made me feel safe and protected, even as I was afraid and in pain…and that was a happy moment during an otherwise really shitty day.

I have kept up the ritual of a HAPPINESS JAR ever since I returned home from my EAT PRAY LOVE journeys — as a way of doing my part to hold onto the joy and light that I found during that adventure.

When I say that happiness is a consequence of personal effort, this is kind of thing I’m talking about.

I’m talking about showing up, paying attention to the instances of good fortune in your life, putting a spotlight on the small good things, and creating a body of evidence that you are (on ALL days) brushing up against grace.

Look for it, and you’ll find it.

It doesn’t have to be huge, to be hugely important.

I keep up this practice not as protection against dark times or denial of dark times (we cannot protect against dark times or deny their existence; dark times happen, and will keep on happening) but as an act of stubborn gladness and gratitude for the strangely unfolding miracle that is my life.

If you are looking for a new ritual to begin in 2016, may I suggest this one?

It’s a hell of a lot easier than a resolution to lose a bunch of weight, or to run a marathon, or to get out of debt…but it might actually change your life a lot more than any of these other acts.

Go grab yourself a jar (or a box, or even a plastic bag from Walmart) and start today.

And for those of you who have started your own HAPPINESS JARS over the years, can you send photos of your jars, and stories of your own experiences? I love to see what you are discovering.

Have a wonderful, blessed (and yes, HAPPY) 2016, everyone!


Note: I wouldn’t constrain myself with only the happiest moment. Any moment that left a strong impression in my emotions is as valid. A better diary for the end of year.

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January 2016

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