Imagine if every day for a year, you wrote down a note on a scrap of paper describing one happy moment of your day, and put that paper in a jar. Now imagine pulling those papers out one at a time when you feel stressed.
Filling your happiness jar with your own quotes and tangible evidence of good moments will remind you of what you have, and that as a caregiver, you are, in fact, enough.
The idea of a happiness jar originated a couple of years back as a project by Elizabeth Gilbert, the bestselling author of Eat, Pray, Love, whose most recent book, Big Magic, is about living a more creative life (and If you haven’t read Big Magic… you MUST read this book!)
Gilbert has a giant apothecary jar and at the end of nearly each day, she writes down her happiest moment on a scrap of paper and tucks it in the jar.
A happiness jar for caregivers (which can be a simple mason jar) offers an amazing exercise in gratitude, something that is essential for all of us. Filling your happiness jar with your own quotes and tangible evidence of good moments will remind you of what you have, and that as a caregiver, you are, in fact, enough.
As caregivers, it’s important to try and stay in the present moment and not feel overwhelmed by the stress in our lives. Happiness jar can be a simple yet powerful means of focusing on the positive and finding meaning in caregiving.
Think about how many moments, how many conversations we forget on a daily basis once they are gone; things that, if we could look back on them, would bring us renewed happiness and peace.
For instance, I might write something like: “In the midst of an extremely busy few weeks, my mind has been churning with to-do lists and worries that I’m not doing anything particularly well. Then on a sunny afternoon my 9-year-old daughter asks if we can play cards on the back deck. So we do, and it was the best part of my day. I have this moment of awe, how seemingly out of nowhere my baby girl is so grown up. How lucky am I that she wants to sit here with her mom, just the two of us, and play cards.”
The things you write down for your happiness jar don’t need to chronicle “big”, rockstar achievements. In fact, it’s better if they are not.
Maybe it’s a quiet moment of brushing your mother’s hair and being struck by how it catches the light coming through her window.
Other examples of happy caregiving moments you might include in your happiness jar; “Mom loved watching the video of her granddaughter’s dance recital so much, and it turned out the song was one she knew. She actually remembered some of the words and smiled as she sang along.”
Or, “Sat in the backyard with John for most of this beautiful sunny afternoon. He was so relaxed today in his favourite red chair.”
As a caregiver, keeping notes to put in a happiness jar is a simple yet transformative practice that can provide a significant boost to your mental health and well-being.
Have you thought of creating your own happiness jar? What would you write today?
You might also like our Elizz article entitled S.T.O.P. Caregiver Stress – Learn to Be in the Present.
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Need to talk to someone? Call Elizz at 1-855-Ask-Eliz (275-3549).