The Gratitude Jar
Peggy K. Mack
August 10, 2013
It's curious and amusing to me to know that I have opened my eyes to how little passing moments can be linked together to effect our lives in a positive way. Last November I was scrolling through the endless photos, posters and messages that greet me on Facebook each morning. They range from grand baby or pet photos, to pictures and descriptions of family or friend events, to posters to make us laugh or inspire us, to the unusual and disturbing, to the political rant and rave, oh yes and the views of beauty around the world. Facebook is a smorgasbord of images, the grand, endless buffet of entertainment through words and images.
One morning in November, a friend had posted a photo of a glass jar with slips of paper in it and included a description of the Gratitude Jar. I was immediately intrigued by the thought of an idea like this working in a positive way in my own life. Knowing me, at the time, I had great doubt that I would "stick to it" and commit to writing on a slip of paper each day, based on my own understanding that I am one to change from habit often in search of new ideas.
However, the idea of starting my day with an activity that included less than 5 seconds of my time combined with a tactile, visual and mental connection to an appreciation for all I have made it seem like it was worth giving it a try.
I searched the cabinets for an aged, tall, octagonal shaped, glass mason jar with the open and shut snapping clasp. I cut a circular shape from a sticky note and sank it to the bottom for color, I suppose. I tied a tiny, printed, Christmas satin ribbon around and under the lock to brighten the old jar up a bit. I took a regular multicolored pack of post-it notes and folded the sheets in half. I gathered two or three working pens. I reached up in the cabinet to find a small tea cup we rarely use for storing the clean strips of paper and pens. Finally, I set it up, the jar and cup filled with paper and pens, next to my Kuerig coffee maker knowing that without fail on 100% of my mornings I go straight for coffee every morning.
It is now August and I am pleased to see that the jar has over 200 slips of paper in it now, with the stack growing taller each day. Yes, I missed a few mornings, but for the most part I now have a tiny reminder of 200 reasons I am grateful. There's a sense of joy in knowing what I suspected to be true. There are endless reasons for us to be grateful and to give thanks for all we have in our lives. The list, I would suggest, could be endless.
One morning, last May, I opened the jar and gently poured its contents onto my dining room table. I slowly read through each one and was surprised to find there were some repeaters. I wrote several times that I was grateful for my husband and for my children, Allison and Patrick. I, also, realized with this quick review there were several obvious ones missing, like food, water, light and God. I do not know how I missed God except to offer that maybe it was because the little slips of gratitude are directed to God and all he provides for us.
I made two little versions for my Spring reunion with long-time, high school friends, Pat and Sandi, who met me for a weekend trip down the east coast of Ga. It was a small way of connecting us in positive thoughts for each other and to offer strength when we returned to our own homes. I loved gathering the materials and making them as tiny gifts. I, also, sent the idea suggestion to a few friends who teach Sunday school or Bible school classes as a simple project to share with the children they teach.
All of this came from one simple idea posted on Facebook last November. People complain about wasting time on Facebook, which I am guilty of, I admit. But, there is good that can come from positive posts and wonderful new ideas. I took the idea of the Gratitude Jar as a suggestion and a challenge and got so much more. I realized by looking at those tiny sheets of paper, that part of the process of being grateful involves closing out all thoughts of the world, our to do lists,etc...and focusing, even if only for a few brief seconds on gratitude to God. It gave me a way to connect with old friends and with new ones in their never ending pursuit of ideas for their youth groups. But most of all, it was the first of many tiny steps that lay before me in my journey back to an active faith. The simple activity of writing down one thing I am grateful for each morning, gave me an attitude adjustment over time that has trained me to look for the positive throughout each day. Beginning the day with gratitude can effect an entire day!
I have always believed in God and Heaven, but it had been decades since I committed myself to becoming part of a church and its fellowship of Christians. It's a good thing I didn't have a jar filled with all the excuses I had made up to avoid going back to church. Who needs a jar filled with flimsy excuses which, at the time, I was convinced were the truth? This returning to church has connected me with others from high school, old friends in writing and new found friends around the world who share a faith that is ever changing as we develop in our walk of faith. What followed was an amazing moment where I realized I was connecting to others through the hearts of Christians and I became more hungry each day for new information which lead to my new commitment to morning devotions.
My eyes are open and I am seeing how one tiny poster on a page on the internet can be the first step to inspiration and renewal which leads to a greater love and respect for God. Images are powerful on Facebook, but ones that are faith driven are life changing challenges for a more positive life. They give us words of inspiration to carry us on to being even better than we are today. My little gratitude jar means the world to me, now. I had no idea such a simple activity could change how I see the world!