The Blessing/Gratitude Jar

Posted: December 17, 2016 in Blur of Life

Occasionally I feel a smidgen of unwarranted guilt when I’m on Facebook. It stems from reading various statuses about how awful 2016 has been for some. Guilt, because I am not normally the type of person who relishes in 1-upping or making another feel as though their emotions and struggles aren’t valid or justified, but part of me wants to do just that. Guilt, because it’s often an internal challenge to hold back the urge to judge those who publicly broadcast how negatively they perceive the past 12 months, 52 weeks, 365 days, and 525,600 minutes of their year (even with the extra day thrown in for leap). They can find time within those moments of misery to express to others how awful it has been for them, but seem to lack the same keyboard functionality when it comes to communicating something positive to say to their captive audience. We all possess the ability to open the blinds to a darkened room, even if the light hurts our eyes, so friggin’ suck it up and stop sucking the light out of the virtual living room we’re all hanging out in together . There are people living under tarps down by the river who have a better outlook on the year than you… even if they don’t have access to an internet connection or functional plumbing or food.

525,600 seconds (less the leap) and yet NONE of that was noteworthy when grabbing the social megaphone? Pish posh! Stop dwelling and sulking on the very thing you have the sole control to change: your ATTITUDE.

Of course, it would be remiss of me not to acknowledge that I am guilty of flogging social media with my brand of selfish negativity from time to time. This, however, is not one of those times. This isn’t about me! Stop yelling at me!! What does “hypocrite” mean, anyway?! Stop making finger quotes in the air when you use that word!

I Digress…
A few nights ago I was visiting with a friend of two decades. We hadn’t been in contact for several years prior to the early spring of this one. The memories we’d made in 2016, however, have been unfathomably delightful and salient. During the course of the evening, between sips of some of the best spiked hot cocoa that has ever coated my tongue (who knew coconut rum would be the slam dunk?!), she excitedly asked if I’d be interested in reading through her Blessing Jar together. The cynical adolescent phantom in my mind immediately began to cock its eyebrow at the thought of spending an evening with a beautiful woman reading her “blessings”. I swiftly kicked that attitude to the curb and embraced what she wanted to share with her friend.
Excitedly, she floated upstairs on a cloud of smiles and grabbed from the shelf a giant mason jar filled with tiny torn scraps of yellow paper and brought it down. Each piece was haphazardly folded in creases without much concern beyond concealing its written contents. She popped the top and dumped it all in front of us on the coffee table; roughly 50 of them. I lifted my mug to my lips, sipping liquid dark chocolate heaven as she explained: Starting January of 2016, any time something good happened in her day she would jot down that memory along with the date on a scrap of paper and toss it in the jar. For 12 months she resisted the urge to look through the notes as they piled up behind the glass. Sometimes she would have bad days and grab a couple of the pieces to remind herself that good things have happened, but for the most part this was to be their first unveiling.
Together we took turns randomly reading through her memories and the date when it was added to the collection.
To horribly paraphrase:
“I went to my first BSU football game today!”
“Dinner with my family!”
“Won a gift basket at a charity dinner”
“Went to the Shakespeare Festival!”
“A stranger bought me Starbucks!”
“Got to raft Hell’s Canyon!”
On and on they went. Some more epic than others, but all of them equally important to her. I was flattered to be included in a number of them.

It made me realize how quick and easy it is to dwell on what goes wrong throughout our day to day monotonous regimen. We are emotion-generating machines and, because of deep-rooted survival instincts, are programmed to focus on the things that hurt us, cause us fear, distrust, and create resentment. Those fleeting moments of awesome, which may have induced laughter or a good feeling, become buried under the rubble of routine. And, like Bing-Bong (the imaginary friend from Inside Out), they’re lost and forgotten in the dark caverns of our brain. Having something as simple as a “Blessing Jar” to clean off those dusty, abandoned bubbles of positive memories, is paramount to a healthy mind and another tool to consider if you’re already predicting 2017 may be a repeat.

2016 for me, even without a jar of paper blessings, was exceptional. I’ve made tremendous relationships with friends (new & old), I started a band, my kids are healthy and happy, I have a roof over my head, food to eat, a loving family, enough money to get me by, and I allow myself to love openly and honestly.
2017 will be the maiden voyage of the Blessing Jar for me. Actually, because I will likely always have a cynic living in my head, mine will be called The Gratitude Jar. It may be a Pinterest-y idea, but it never hurts to have as many tools in your toolbox as possible to get through another 12 months, 52 weeks, 365 days, and 525,600 minutes of challenges, struggles, and life-battles in order to find out what you’re really capable of at the end. We are solely responsible for our mindset. It is the only thing nobody can take away.




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