After our baby was born, I struggled with post-partum anxiety. One of the things I did to help with this was take part in a Mindfulness Group. In this group, we talked about negativity bias. At that point I was so sleep deprived and hormonal, I had forgotten I had previously seen an interesting TedX video on it. Essentially, it’s human nature to dwell on one negative thing and forget the 80 good things that have happened.
One of the ways to combat the negativity is to acknowledge what makes us happy or what we are grateful for. Reflecting on the many good things instead of the single bad helps shift the balance to being more positive and diminishes the impact of the negative event/thought. No wonder gratitude journals are so popular!
Live on the bright side of life
After this reminder, I was motivated to start something for our family. I thought it would make for wonderful dinner conversation and also liked the idea of being able to look back and see the good things we have experienced and are grateful for. I figured we could write a few words on some paper and use a jar to collect them. It would be a beautiful visual reminder and piece of home décor.
A new tradition
Sean’s and my birthday were a week away – we don’t usually give gifts but what better gift to make and give? I didn’t have a lot of time or energy with a new baby, nor did I want to spend a lot of money on this project. You know when the stars align and things come together as if they were meant to be? Well, this project was meant to be… Originally, I was just going to use a mason jar. Luckily, we had a more interesting glass container I had purchased a few years back. Because i was going to give this as a gift, I wanted to use paper with a bit more pizzazz than just white – off to Michaels with Baby in tow. Boo-yah! Books of scrap booking paper were on sale!
Make your own Good Things and Gratitude Jar
All you really need is a container, paper and a pen. You decide how creative you want to be beyond that!
For our jar, I used 12” square scrapbook paper (patterned one side only), cut into 3” x 4” pieces. I used this tutorial to fold a paper box to hold the blank pieces of paper and a pen. I wish I could say I planned this part out but it was a happy accident that the pieces of paper fit so well. Told you this project was meant to be!
Excited to create your own jar and start being thankful throughout the year? We’ve gathered some amazing inspiration from others on our Pinterest Board: Gratitude and Good Things. We’ve also pinned some prompts to help you recognize the good things in life that may be overlooked.
How to use a Good Things and Gratitude Jar
We add to our jar randomly and at least a few nights a week during dinner. Of course, we didn’t want it to feel like just one more thing to do i.e. we aren’t “failing” if we miss a night. It’s been a great way to help focus on the good things after a tough day or if one of us is feeling down. Even though this was a birthday gift, we decided we would look through our jar at Thanksgiving and start it over again at that time. Some people start this at the beginning of the year, which would also make for a lovely tradition.
Our experience (so far)
Surprisingly, it has taken some effort to talk about good things and what we are grateful for. Partly because we feel like we should always say family, support, food, shelter. Partly because it’s something we aren’t used to doing. However, it’s definitely made us more appreciative and has lifted both our spirits when life has felt like a struggle. With some practice we’ve been able to dig deeper and go beyond the obvious good things to be thankful for. Adding to the jar is becoming more of a habit. I notice I feel excited when we start the conversation. Sean loved this gift and we’re both looking forward to when our baby is old enough to participate as well.
What are your Thanksgiving traditions? Let us know in the comments!
-Denise and Sean
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