Reflecting on a Year of Gratitude: How to Start a Gratitude Jar
We are all on a healing journey of some sort. Some of us are healing from an illness; others are healing from a major emotional blow; while some are gathering the strength to make major life changes.
We all want our lives to be more fulfilled, more rich, more connected with the world around us. We want to feel like we are carving out a life that we love.
The problem is we get easily mired in fear, negativity, and despair. At least, I know I do. I’ve had a really bad habit of sweating the small stuff. (Note that I say ‘habit’ because I believe that this behavioural pattern of mine can be broken with practice.)
About this time last year, I heard about the concept of a Gratitude Jar for the first time. I have known for years that the practice of gratitude contributes to connecting more intimately with your life, and it can help to alleviate depressing, wanting thoughts. I just never took the time to actually practice gratitude until now.
The art of gratitude is a powerful practice to ground yourself in the present moment, and it invites a feeling of thankfulness for everything and everyone that is in your life right now.
Practicing gratitude is a way to open you eyes to appreciate the small, sacred events and experiences that we tend to easily ignore. Acknowledging how special the here and now is lessens our need to worry about our past or to be fearful of our future.
We only have the present moment after all.
When I started my 2013 Gratitude Jar — my very first leap into the art of gratitude — I didn’t think that anything special would come of it. I thought it would be just a fun, simple daily practice that was almost like an art project: and I do love an art project.
But something truly amazing happened during the creation of my Gratitude Jar…
I began to realize that each day was filled with tiny, memorable, sacred moments. Moments when I felt so fulfilled, happy, surprised, excited, strong, alive, and content.
And, with my Gratitude Jar, I got to write each little thing down and archive all of those moments. And, before I knew it, by the end of the year, I had hundreds and hundreds of entries.
I could see, first hand, right in front of my eyeballs, that my life was filled with light. I didn’t have to sweat the small stuff. My life may have turned out vastly different than I originally envisioned before Lyme Disease, but it is still rich, vibrant, happy, beautiful, loving, and fulfilling.
Because of my Gratitude Jar, I know that my life is moving in a direction of abundance, success, love and happiness.
I thought I would take a this chance to share with you some of my most memorable 2013 moments. Some were BIG and some were small, but each was so equally special.
I think some of my most memorable and exciting experiences pivoted around the creation of this blog.
My Favourite 2013 Moment of Gratitude:
When I made the decision to start alisonsmith.com, I knew that I wanted my website to be my name. But, unfortunately, when I tried to purchase the URL, I discovered that alisonsmith.com was already owned by some guy in Louisiana: he bought it over 10 years ago.
The URL was never a website. It was just owned by a business man that held onto it hoping that an Alison Smith would contact him with the willingness to pay thousands of dollars to have the privilege to own that .com URL.
I wasn’t willing to pay that kind of cash — in fact, I couldn’t. But I decided to try and contact him, anyway. I faxed; I phoned; I emailed; and I got nothing. He wouldn’t return any correspondence.
So, I gave up.
But as the weeks went by, I became more agitated with the fact that I was Alison Smith, and I couldn’t use alisonsmith.com. I was angered by the fact that ‘my URL’ was essentially being held hostage.
So, I did what any other modern woman does, and I put the URL, alisonsmith.com, on my digital manifestation board. Right at the top of the board, in big type, I said to the universe that that URL was mine…and I was going to get it!
Everyday, I stared at my manifestation board (it’s my desktop wallpaper). Everyday, as I looked at the board, I believed that alisonsmith.com was mine.
Long story short: Within 4 weeks of placing my URL name on my manifestation board, I noticed that the owner of alisonsmith.com did not renew his ownership. HOLY CRAP, I thought…after over 10 years of owning that URL, he decided to let it go right at the moment that I needed it.
Two months later, the URL came up for auction. I was up against 5 other people (none of which were other Alison Smith’s). The auction lasted 30 minutes, and when the final second rang I saw that I had won…alisonsmith.com was mine!
I really couldn’t believe it. I have one of the most common names on the planet. There are thousands and thousands of Alison Smiths, and so very few.com URLs up for grabs. I feel all goose-bumpy that I pulled that coup off.
And, snagging alisonsmith.com brought me to the ability to reach you. All of you, who are here reading this blog, are definitely a part of my amazing year of gratitude.
How to Start a Gratitude Jar:
Do you want to start exploring and archiving all of the wonderful moments in your life? Follow these steps to start your very own Gratitude Jar.
1. Select a sacred vessel. I chose to use large mason jars because I love the vintage quality of them, and they remind me of my grandmother.
2. Cut up a stack of scrap paper into small slips of paper: large enough to write a quick, little note about what you’re grateful for. Some people like to use nicely coloured paper, but I’m satisfied with using all the scrap paper lingering in my house.
3. Each day, write down as many grateful moments as you want. I always write at least one, but my average is 3-4. Start to pay close attention to how you feel throughout the day. Did someone do something special for you? Did you get to do something out of the ordinary? Is the sun shining? Did you get to hug someone today? Write down all of those moments. Everything that makes you feel amazing is fair game for your Gratitude Jar.
4. After writing down what you’re grateful for, fold the slip of paper and pop it into your jar.
5. Keep your jar in a place where you can see it. It’s wonderful to see how your moments of gratitude accumulate over time.
6. At the end of the year, dump all of your entries into a large bowl, and re-read them. I like to take pictures of the entries that mention a friend or family member. I then email that photo to each person as a thank you for being a part of my Gratitude Jar. You can also purchase a large scrap book to paste all of your yearly entries. That way, you get to archive the entries and keep all of those sacred moments close to you forever.