You may have heard about people who have a gratitude jar, and felt unsure whether that approach would suit you. However, now is a perfect time to give it more though. Some say gratitude jars are “cheesy” or that there just isn’t time to make and use one. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Keeping one has numerous benefits, from improving your physical health to increasing your happiness. Plus, you can use just about any container to store your expressions of gratitude—sure, you can choose a jar, but you could also use a craft store box or a pretty bowl.
Here are the many reasons you should have (and use) a gratitude jar, placing it somewhere easily accessible.
1. Boosts happiness
Psychologists say happiness is increased by the act of writing a thank you letter (or any kind of note which expresses gratitude). Both the letter writer and the recipient experience positive feelings. For example, in one psychology classroom experiment in which students were asked to pen such letters, all students reported feeling happier after finishing their writing. So imagine how great you’d feel if you jotted down your expressions of gratitude on a daily basis, putting them in a jar and turning to them whenever you need to lift your mood.
2. Encourages genuine emotional expression
Some people are embarrassed, nervous, or afraid to express their feelings. Enter the gratitude jar. Experts say that writing about your gratitude allows you to open up more easily and express your emotions with more sincerity. Otherwise, you might find you don’t fully express your thoughts or, if you do, you may blanket your wording with excessive humor or sarcasm. But rest assured—your thoughts are safe and sound in that gratitude jar, where only you can read them and come to terms with your emotions in your own time.
3. Increases self-confidence
It’s been said that your thoughts are powerful factors when it comes to your self-confidence. Too much negativity and you’re likely to be down on yourself. But positivity can boost your self-confidence. By writing down that which you are grateful for, you’ll quickly see life around you in a more favorable light, which can help your confidence soar. Whether it’s how happy you were with a new haircut or an enjoyable conversation you had with someone you haven’t seen in ages, jotting these moments down on paper and referring to them on occasion will serve as a reminder that you’ve got a lot of good things going in your life.
4. Forces you to slow down
Today’s world can be very fast-paced—hectic schedules and pressing family matters make you feel like you’re moving through life at warp speed, with few chances to stop and smell the proverbial roses. But putting your thoughts of appreciation down on a piece of paper or reading some of the notes you’ve already accumulated in the jar will force you to take a well-deserved step back, even if only for a couple of minutes. You’ll enjoy taking a break amid the chaos in your world, and might even eventually learn to make that a habit—no jar required.
5. Mood booster during tough times
Sometimes, life can hand you a series of events that render you emotionally exhausted, upset and overwhelmed. You might not have the energy to put anything in your gratitude jar as a result, and that’s understandable. However, simply knowing that the jar is can serve as a powerful reminder that despite hardships, life does indeed have plenty of wonderful moments.
For example, when my father passed away in February 2015, I immediately stopped filling my gratitude jar—a habit I continued for several months. I simply couldn’t fathom writing down things to be happy about when a great source of my happiness was gone. However, just the act of looking up at my gratitude jar (which was filled with only a handful of notes at the time) reminded me that happiness is within reach. Like the jar, happiness is always there, ready for you to recognize it more fully.
6. Leads to emotional healing
According to psychologists, keeping a grateful jar or journal has the ability to keep troubling thoughts at bay. From job stress and depressing news stories to the loss of a loved one or a health setback, experts maintain that keeping positive thoughts within reach can help you overcome negativity, in essence overpowering unpleasant or even traumatic memories. It’s said that doing this also allows you to better cope with upsetting events and can even facilitate closure.
7. Lowers stress levels
Experts have found that people who write lists actually experience diminished stress levels. Consequently, filling your gratitude jar with list-like notes such as “great dinner with friends, amazing weather today and productive work meeting” could help to relax and calm you.
8. Improves physical health
Finally, not only can your mental health benefit as a result of keeping a gratitude jar, but your physical health can too. It’s been discovered that people who write shortlist of what makes them happy or appreciative are more apt to exercise, sleep more soundly, have more energy and feel more alert.