A few weeks ago, Elizabeth Gilbert posted a great idea on Instagram about keeping a happiness jar. Every day she simply writes down the happiest moment of her day and puts it in a glass container. She’s been doing this for over a decade. “I think it might be the most important spiritual practice [of] my life,” she writes. I love this idea. Not only do you get to savor a beautiful moment by jotting it down, but you also get to re-read these moments (which you likely have forgotten about) a week, a month, or 5 years from now. Gilbert’s idea inspired me to think about other ways we can document our happy moments.
Margarita Tartakovsky is an associate editor at PsychCentral.com, an award-winning mental health website, and the voice behind Weightless, a blog that helps women deal with body image issues and disordered eating. She also writes a monthly feature for Beliefnet.com, covering topics such as patience and procrastination.
Editor: Nadeem Noor
Here’s a list of ideas:
- Write down categories you can fill in daily or weekly, such as: person, place, nature, food, experience. And for each one write down what made you happy. That is, what person made you happy today? What place made you happy? What in nature made you happy? What food made you happy? What experience made you happy? Maybe you had a fun date with your spouse. Maybe your bed felt especially comfortable. Maybe you loved listening to the birds chirping. Maybe the soup you made warmed your entire body. Maybe you loved reading during your lunch break.
- Start a challenge on Instagram (or any social media site you like) to post a photo a day of something that makes you happy. You can even create hashtags, such as #happymoments or #happinessaday. And see if other people would like to join you.
- Take photos using your phone or another kind of camera, and store them in folders on your computer. For instance, your folders might be based on months (i.e., put all of February’s photos in one folder). This is a nice option if you prefer to keep your happy moments private (or don’t use social media).
- At the end of the week, pick one thing that made you happy. Write about it in great detail. Use your senses to describe what happened.
- Cut out small slips of paper. On each slip, write down a different prompt (or sentence to complete), and toss it into a jar. Every day take out a slip, and respond to it in your journal. Your prompts might be everything from “The best part of my day is _________” to “I love _________ about my partner” to “________ is my favorite scent.” You can even ask a loved one to create the prompts for you (and you can do the same for them).
- List 500 things that make you happy (and add sketches, doodles, magazine clippings or photos).
Of course, some days may seem bleak and free of happy moments. Some days are really tough. This isn’t about forcing yourself to fake a smile or to make up happy moments. I know that doesn’t feel good. At. All. It’s simply about noticing the things that are already present in our lives that happen to be kind or fulfilling or calming or good or great—and acknowledging and savoring that magic.