As last year drew to a close I heard a lot of buzz about Elizabeth Gilbert‘s Happiness Jars, an idea she created for herself years ago and is now passing on to inspire us. This magical jar creates self-awareness about even the tiniest blessings in our lives.
I promised to start my own jar in the new year. Getting into the habit of writing down something to be grateful about every day would force me to find the smallest bit of good that happened on a bad day and the best thing that occurred on a good one.
In my 56 years on this planet I’ve learned one important lesson about myself: I never follow resolutions. Look into my knitting bag(s) and you’ll gasp at the number of unfinished scarves, hats and blankets I promised to bind off at the beginning of several new years. Or step into my library to see the number of books stuffed into our bookshelves, ones I said I’d box and donate every year. These include recipe books that I promised to use after promising to start cooking again.
In a prior post I wrote about my new Choices Notebook Planner and how I’d be using it to set goals for 2016. Many of my goals focus on my work as a writer, but others address taking better care of myself – physically, emotionally and spiritually.
As I round the corner toward 60 and my disability taunts me a little more each day I decided that it’s finally time for ME.
Does that sound self-centered? Perhaps, but I think in order to live a quality life we need to sometimes be self-centered. If we don’t put ourselves first who will? Work can wait and our loves ones can too. What we need to do is tend to ourselves.
At the end of last year there was also a lot of chatter about choosing a single word to help you focus on your goals in the coming year. Pick one word to keep in your mind’s eye and it will be your guide.
Happy. Achieve. Listen. Balance. Commitment. Strong. These were all popular choices. I tried to think about what my word would be. One word. One word. One word. I couldn’t decide on only one. I became frustrated and tucked the idea away.
Until the other day. At first I couldn’t understand why I suddenly started thinking about choosing a word and finding a glass jar again. Something unlocked that door. What was it?
That day was filled with boring errands, like going to the DMV while the digital thermometer on my car’s dashboard read a single digit: 9. I’d rather be under the covers sipping hot chocolate with flannel pajamas and two pair of socks on.
Then it dawned on me. Despite running around and feeling anxious that I wasn’t getting any work done I was spending time alone with my husband. It might not be the romantic, quality time a woman dreams of, but in my heart I knew that doing mundane chores together made me happier than doing them alone.
We both work from home and honor each other’s space. From 9 to 5 we’re in business mode unless we take a break to walk around the block together.
After finishing our errands we rewarded ourselves with a casual lunch at a local diner. Sitting together, having someone else cook our meal and wait on us felt divine. We chatted, laughed and talked about the coming year. After being together for 30 years it still fills my heart to spend time alone with my husband. It doesn’t get any better than that.
I tore off a piece of paper and wrote down my first words to fill my new Happiness Jar: Lunch out with my husband and feeling very loved.
Now that I began my Happiness Jar I wanted to find my one word. I thought and thought and decided I needed something more. I wanted to redefine a group of words that were failed resolutions of the past, ones that take on new meaning at this point in my life. You can tweak them to suit your own story:
Diet: It’s time to slim down by removing toxic-thinking people from my life, shed negative thoughts and replace them with positive ones, and choose healthy social and work-related relationships.
Exercise: I vow to exercise my mind by reading the pile of books on top of and in my night table. I will stretch my brain by learning new skills, and incorporate healing therapies to achieve inner and outer balance.
Faith: I will trust that things happen for a reason and that I am in the exact place I am supposed to be. I will trust that I am doing the best I can within my abilities and have faith that my best will always be good enough.
Courage: I will look at myself in the mirror and not focus on wrinkles, extra pounds and untamed hair but instead will see a mature woman using her adversities as a way of helping others as best as she can. I will have the courage to admit there is great beauty in that.
Relax: I will unclench my jaw and learn to breathe. I will live more in the moment to fully enjoy my life. I will spend time listening, loving and learning from others, relaxed in the knowledge that doing this is where the magic begins. I will not take anything for granted. Today is the best day we have. And tomorrow will be as well. And the next day.
Each day is a gift that we are each blessed with. I hope your days will be blessed with inner peace, great joy and good health.
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