Practice Positive: Forget New Year’s resolutions – fill a jar of joy

When taking stock of your year, it can be easier to recall tough times. Try keeping track of the good things that happen in your year.

The start of a new year is often a time of reflection. Did you accomplish what you set out to do last year? Do you have any regrets?

This is also a time when people tend to beat themselves up for not being where they want to be. This perspective is negative and no way to start off a new year.

It’s important to focus on the good things that happen in our lives. Life is a journey full of ups and downs. All too often people focus on their struggles, disappointments and failures. It can be easier to recall the tough times unless we choose to focus on the great moments, and we all have them.

I have found a cool way to focus on good things that happen throughout the year. I call it the ‘Joy Jar’.

Find a transparent jar or plastic container and put it in an area where you will see it often. Every time something good, exciting, fun or inspiring happens in your life, write it down on a piece of paper with the date and put it in your Joy Jar. It doesn’t matter how big or small the event or experience is. If it feels significant or special to you, write it down. This jar of joy will be a record of all the wonderful moments in your year.

A transparent jar is best because you get to watch it fill up as the year progresses. You can decorate the jar or use coloured paper to write on as well. Then, on New Year’s Eve, dump the jar out and have fun reading.

It’s amazing how much happens in a year. Now you’ll be able to see just how fabulous your year actually was!

This is a great practice, because it allows you to celebrate the year of good things instead of focusing on the negatives that have occurred, shifting your energy to the positive for the start of a new year.

If you are in a relationship you can have one jar for yourself personally and one jar to share. Some moments you may want to cheris on your own. Others are great to share and celebrate with your partner. There is no right or wrong way to do this. If you put little things like seeing a butterfly in your backyard, that may mean more to you personally than to your spouse, but a fabulous date night or buying a new couch would be great to have in your share jar.

You can also use your share jar to let your partner know you noticed little things they did, like buying you flowers or fixing a squeaky door. Focusing and reflecting on nice things about each other will keep your relationship healthy.

This can be a great tool for families to use together as well. Have your children participate. If they aren’t able to write yet, do it for them. Check in every day to see what they want to add to their jar.

Have a family jar as well where you can all put in moments that stand out. Other members of your family may not know some things you enjoy with them. You may write down when your child does something sweet for you. Record a family outing or funny experience. Your kids can write about being really grateful for a family games night, or a sibling helping them study for a test.

Teaching your kids to focus on the good things that happen will instill the habit of positivity early on.

Imagine the quality of their life when they learn the habit of focusing on positive things. It may be the greatest gift you give them.

No matter how you choose to incorporate the Joy Jar into your life you will notice a difference in how you feel approaching the start of a new year. You get what you focus on. You’ll probably find that you notice more things to write in your jar as you go along. Focus on good things and more will come to you. Celebrate those good things and the effect will be amplified.

Have fun filling your Joy Jars!

–Dawn Carson lives in Cloverdale.

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