I recently read an article by a journalist who tracked her happiness for a year in an effort to see what motivates her. She did this in order to incorporate more of these happy generating things into her life. That's smart...science really is relevant. I appreciated her intentionality to document and track because it can be easy to minimize everyday simple pleasures. As an anxious culture, we rarely sit in the here-and-now. This reality contributes to our difficulty to be presently engaged with ourselves and others (and I've already noted the actual health risks in a previous blog post). There is something to be said about taking time to capture the various here-and-now moments, collecting them, and reflecting on them. This benefits us by adding a level of conscious awareness. This is important if we want to lead fulfilled lives.
While I have not kept an actual jar (though I like this idea), I do keep a monthly account of things that were particularly special and meaningful to me, from coffee with a friend, trying a new restaurant, a fun date, or getting an interview for a dream job. Even if there might have been something sad or stressful, I'll jot down the flowers a friend sent or the text messages that blew up my phone to comfort me. These are things I want to remember and be thankful for; it reorients me back to what I have in front of me in this given moment in time. My perspective shifts from what I lack to what has been given.
At the end of the year, I look back on each month and reflect on different things that were highlighted and otherwise would have forgotten. Because I've written it down, I can remember the great weather the day my friend and I walked Town Lake and the funny anecdote she told. It's a form of journaling that informs me of things that I value and give my time and attention. Because there are often repeated themes each month, I can be more diligent in how I choose to spend my time and focus. I can gauge how well I am doing at incorporating people and experiences that contribute to my overall mental and emotional health. Was this month particularly stressful or rejuvenating? The answer can be correlated to what did or did not make the list. This awareness reminds me I'm responsible for my own self-care and can take active steps to lessen my anxiety and stress simply by initiating with a friend to go for a walk or have coffee. While life will still be stressful, I do not have to feel helpless by those events or situations. I can take ownership of what I can change, what is within my jurisdiction and sometimes, that's a step in the right direction.
What are things that would make your jar/list?