It doesn’t happen often, but every once in a while somebody posts something interesting on Facebook. A month ago, while I scrolled through the ho-hum personal updates, endless cat videos, and anti-whatever rants, I saw something that made me stop scrolling and start thinking.
It was a simple poster that read, “This January, why not start the year with an empty jar and fill it with notes about good things that happen. Then, on New Year’s Eve, empty it and see what awesome stuff happened that year.” As with many postings on Facebook, I can’t be sure of its origin, but I traced it back to Savvy: Beauty’s page, where it currently shows almost 200,000 shares.
A simple idea with significant value.
I once attended a seminar in which participants were challenged to list five good things that had happened the previous day. It took some hard thinking, but most participants could come up with five good things. I expect if we’d been ask to come up with five good things that had happened a week ago, we’d have had a harder time. A month ago? Forget it!
Small good things are quickly forgotten. Somehow, our memory banks seem to focus instead on the big events. And negative events can loom large in our memory because of the emotional impact. It’s easy to forget the everyday triumphs, the passing moments of pleasure, the fleeting delights of the unexpected.
After reading about this jar of good things idea, I tried to remember all the good things that happened to me in 2015. I was surprised that I could remember fewer than twenty. If those represent the only good things that happened in my life last year, that means an average of one good thing every two or three weeks. Unlikely!
How many good things can you remember from last year? Can you list all the times someone did something nice for you? Can you recall all the gifts you received? What about those unexpected freebies or random acts of kindness? How many compliments did you receive, how many challenges did you overcome, how many successes did you have?
Even on days that seem truly awful, chances are that something good happened. But unless something reminds us of the good thing, we soon forget. That’s the value in writing the good events down, and preserving them in a jar.
Here’s your challenge for 2016: Find a jar (or any other suitable container) and place it somewhere you’ll see it every day. Stack small pieces of paper beside it, and a pen. Then each day, try to think of one good thing that happened. If you start today, you could have 350 slips of paper in your jar by New Year’s Eve. Even if you only do it once a week, that’s still 50 good things recorded by year’s end.
By recording all those good things, the large and the small, you’ll get pleasure from them three times (at least.) First, you’ll enjoy the good things when they happen. Next you’ll enjoy them when you spend a few moments at the end of the day to contemplate which good thing to record and place into the jar. And finally, you’ll enjoy them all again when you open the jar on December 31 and read, remember, and relive all the good things that came your way in 2016.
Want to share your good moments? Post them on Twitter with hashtag #goodthings2016.
Barbara Lehtiniemi is a writer, photographer, and AU student. She lives on a windswept rural road in Eastern Ontario. Follow Barbara on twitter @ThereGoesBarb.