In the process of teaching kids that there will always be ups and downs in life, during one of the low phases, we started maintaining a Happiness Jar. When we took a sneak peek into it today, it made us feel good yet again and filled us with hope & optimism. Try it out sometime!
Few years back, we had a low phase where many things were not in our control and getting a grip with all the stuff happening around us was tough. Be it school, friends, challenges faced by friends and their families, work (yes.. it is never one thing.. always multiple things hit us at the same time). To boost the morale of kids and to teach them that life is filled with ups and downs, all of us committed to maintain a Goodness Jar and a Happiness Jar.
- Goodness Jar – Good things that we did to others without expecting anything in return
- Happiness Jar – Good things that happened to us that we did not expect, and that made us happy
Point of the exercise was that when we are feeling low, still think of someone else who needs help and do something nice for them without expecting anything in return. The happiness of doing a good deed fills one with hope and optimism and gives us the strength to deal with days when we are feeling low. It helps us shift the focus from feeling bad for ourselves to looking outward and helping another soul.
Each of us get to have one Post-it colored paper and write on it, fold it and put it in the jar. It was not necessary to write something every day and put it in the jar, nor was it necessary to put only one note in the jar per day. As a habit, I started putting stuff in the Goodness jar – as I could control my actions. Two days later, I started smiling and putting notes in the Happiness Jar. My family started seeing me smile and started their journey on the Goodness jar.
There were a lot of discussions initially about what can qualify and what cannot and we strictly kept it to the individual’s discretion. Some days there were nothing to put in any of the jars, and some days there were many. We kept the jars on the kitchen countertop for all of us to see. That acted as a motivation factor for us to step out of thinking about ourselves and thinking about others. I started seeing the boxes slowly start filling up. We never asked each other what we wrote in those notes. However, every time we took out the post-it notes to write, there would be a smile on our faces. A sense of satisfaction while we were filling both the jars.
Those who visited us used to see the boxes and felt they wanted to follow that as well. We slowly realized what qualified to be put in the boxes were changing, and so were our personalities 🙂
Today, while re-organizing our shelves, got to see one of the old boxes from 2017. Again a smile crossed my face and picked up a few notes and read it. Was humbled by all the love and affection shown by friends, ex-colleagues, doctors, neighbors, kids classmates and their parents, relatives from around the world, friends visiting, alma-mater, old teachers, school and college friends and many many more. Their unexpected calls, emails, conversations, a surprise hello, checking in on us, a surprise dish, friends stopping by, garden blooms this is what seemed to have made us happy and pulled us together. Human interactions matter – much more than we can imagine. We are a network of people who feel nice and happy when our lives mean something to someone else and are happy when we are of value to another human being.
Start maintaining a jar, and write notes and drop it in the jar. When you read these notes, it is bound to lift your spirits in ways you cannot imagine – even months / years later. Take a sneak peek into your jars at periodic intervals and let the smiles continue!!!