I borrowed and adapted the following idea from this wonderful blog post; Jar of Happiness. I really thought it such a beautiful concept and so simple to do that I decided to create my own little Happiness Jar. Alas, there were no spare jars around, so tapping into my resourcefulness I emptied out this little sequinned pot of which I am very fond (I have had a fascination for all things glittery from a very young age and still unabashedly continue to do so).
However, I realised that whilst there are lots of things that make me happy in the world, such as glitter, my little neice, reliving memories of falling in love with my first boyfriend… I think there is something more powerful than focusing on what makes us happy. When we truly feel down in the dumps, what we all need is a slap-in-the-face reality check via Gratitude.
The reason being that most of our low moments are caused by mulling over what We don’t have, over other people not giving Us what We want and which We had believed that We deserved. You end up focusing on the lack in your life – and (reality slap!) – you will always, always, lack something. Your mind is inexhaustible and will always continue to create new desires to be chased – FACT. If we understand and believe that what you focus on – you become, and you attract – you are in that low moment; negative, self-obsessed and completely trapped in your mind, unable to be in the present with those around you, whilst expecting those who are there to be able to heal your wounds. This lack of presence and connection to those around you will inevitably get you the opposite of what you really want. It is a self-destructive cycle because your negativity is contagious. Ever told a friend; ‘She was in such a miserable mood it put me on a downer too, not sure if I want to see her again anytime soon”. Therefore your lack – creates more lack.
Plus, if we are to seek out happiness – we would have to be able to answer the following; what is it?! Is it “a state of well-being and contentment” as defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary?
Or is it; “A small metal hinged box with pointy edges, rapped with barbed-wire and hidden in a dark room full of electric eels, razorblades, piles of salt crystals with fans behind them and random pools of lemon juice.” (What a beautiful metaphor!)- the top entry on Urban Dictionary.
The latter is probably how most of us feel. Happiness is this elusive emotion which we chase in many different ways, only to experience it very briefly – and probably only recognising that experience – after it has ended. This is because Happiness or Joy are emotions which the body is physiologically programmed to keep us from sustaining over a long period of time. Just as your body will eventually bring you back from an emotional low – time heals and all that jazz, it will also counteract those high-flying emotions. Your life would actually be in danger if your heart had to continue to beat fast all the time, you never slept, and you lost all desire to eat. Hark back to your first love and you’ll know what I’m writing about – surely, love is the best diet out there – but like the word suggests – ‘die’ you surely will if your body has to keep that up for the rest of your life, whilst juggling a career, kids and all that living entails.
Thus – focusing on what You don’t have, and then continuing to chase what makes You happy, will actually inevitably lead to more discontent as you become disillusioned with the concept of Happiness, and its seductive drug-like effects wear thin. There is another way. If you view everything positive that happens to you or given to you as precious gifts and are Grateful for them, then you will inevitably get more without having to ask.
Gratitude shuts of that ‘I want, I want, I want’ egotistical voice, and brings you back to the present, enabling you to become mindful and aware of your surroundings and thus enjoy them much more. Your relationships get stronger as you put more energy and focus into them, your work gets better and so on – consequential positive side-effects of being present in the moment. Then you can work slowly and more calmly towards those future desires which still exist in you, with a little dose of detachment. If and when they do become realised- you can be grateful for them, but you realise that your life is truly abundant in the present anyway.
You could, like me, create your own little Pot/ Jar/ Box (the possibilities are endless!) of Gratitude and record all that you are grateful for down on little slips of paper – using just a few words to bring back and enable you to prolong those moments of joy you have had the pleasure of being given. Doing this will put you in a beautiful mood and also cause your mind to seek out things to be grateful for – every day. I like to write down three New things each day I am grateful for. I now have a place to go when I slip into my negative self-critical voice, or I start feeling like there is a ‘lack’ in my life; I can come to this lovely, glittery pot, open it up and get my reality slap; truly seeing how much I have, have had, and thus will continue to have in the future.
P.S. A public display of Gratitude to my beautiful friend who sent me the above notepad in the picture, which is now being lovingly (!) torn into beautiful little memories and stored in my pot. Your letter and gifts made me smile, feel loved and reminded me of how lucky I am to have a inspiring friend like you.