With the hustle and bustle of every day life (getting kids to school, packing lunches, after school activities, running a business, and repeat) we sometimes forget why we are doing it all. When do we actually take a moment and really think about all that is special and important in our lives? When do we take a moment for ourselves and ask “what are we grateful for”?
As a busy entrepreneur and mommy of two, I constantly find myself pushing forward, often forgetting to purposefully pause. While I have my evening journal in which I give thanks to the blessing of my day, I often appreciate using what’s called a Gratitude Jar. The jar itself is nothing special really, any old jar will do, it’s what is held inside that is most precious.
Focusing on what you are most grateful for helps you to become a more positive and open-minded human being. Practicing gratitude has many mental health benefits such as feeling happier and less stressed and has been used to alleviate the symptoms of anxiety and depression. It can be one of the most powerful thing you do in life, reaping a harvest of positive thoughts and experiences within your own life. And the more grateful you are for what you have in life, the happier you will be.
All you need are a few minutes at the end of your day to start brining on the good vibes, and empower yourself to become more positive in all aspects of your life.
Here’s what you will need to get started:
- A jar or special container, mason jars work great for this
- Small slips of paper
- One pen, pencil or marker
Focus on gratitude.
Take a moment to think about the people, experiences, moments in you day that brought you a sense of gratitude. Perhaps your child brought home a special drawing just for you. Maybe your partner gave you a hug that felt extra loving. A co-worker noticed your new haircut. What stands out as something special? That’s your gratitude.
Gratitude comes in all shapes and sizes. It can be as small as feeling the sunshine on your face while enjoying a quick lunch break outside, or as big as a long awaited promotion at work. Whatever the moment, keep an open mind. The smallest of moments of gratitude can be just as important as the big ones.
Connect to your moment of gratitude. Feel it fill your mind, body and heart with a bright light. Allow the positive emotions to connect with the moment. Gratitude is a powerful emotion, and deserves a place in your life to lessen your feelings of stress and worry. Take three soft, slow mindful breaths and feel thankful.
Now write down your moment of gratitude. Write “I’m thankful for __________________ today because. . . “ and fill it out with as much detail as possible. The act of writing down your moment of gratitude can be empowering. Allow time to reflect on this moment as much as you can.
“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.” Melody Beattie
Find a special place for your jar. Perhaps it’s your kitchen table, your night stand, or just inside the entrance to your home. Seeing your Gratitude Jar is a great physical reminder of all that is positive in your life.
Sometimes there are moments of gratitude that you may want to share with others. Thanking your partner for picking up the kids after school when you ended up needing to stay late for work can be shared with your partner as a moment of gratitude. Sharing your gratitude with someone else is a small way of paying it forward. When others know what you are grateful for, they may be more likely to provide you with more positive moments in the future.
Here’s to more moments of gratitude!
If you or someone you know is struggling with a mental health disorder, visit the National Alliance on Mental Illness website for valuable resources to find help and support, or call the toll-free helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264).
For more ways to harness the arts for your mental health, visit The Arts Blog!