This post teaches you how to start a gratitude jar and why you need one.
Gratitude is a gift. It brings you joy on the good days, and hope on the harder days.
Gratitude breeds contentment, which leads to a happier life. It keeps your heart positive and optimistic.
As wonderful as the above sounds, being grateful can be difficult. A day of bipolar depression or intense pain caused by a chronic illness can push gratitude far from your mind.
I understand. I have bipolar disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and Familial Mediterranean Fever. If one thing isn’t beating me down, then another one is taking its turn.
With millions of blog posts about gratitude, you don’t need me to go on about the benefits of being grateful. I even wrote the post There Are Always Reasons to be Grateful to throw my two cents in.
Instead of focusing on gratitude for gratitude’s sake, today we’re going to talk about gratitude jars. You’ll learn why you should have a gratitude jar and how to start one.
Let’s get started.
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Why You Need a Gratitude Jar
Practicing gratitude creates a positive life. It helps you focus on what you already have instead of longing for what you don’t.
Staying positive is a challenge when you are coping with mental illness. While an attitude of gratitude is internal, a gratitude jar is something external you can see when you need a boost.
Dark days with bipolar disorder let in little light. It’s too easy to spiral further into the darkness. Imagining reasons to be grateful can feel impossible.
Having something tangible to look at that reminds you there are many blessings in your life. Those gifts make the tough days easier to handle.
There are three principal ways gratitude can help you.
The first way a gratitude jar can help you is to give you inner peace. Focusing on the negative steals your internal peace. If you only think about what’s missing, you stop seeing what’s in front of you.
Remembering what you have and the people who love you gives you back your peace. Gratitude focuses your mind on contentment. A content mind is less anxious.
The second benefit is hope. Coping with depression can make you feel hopeless. Everything goes dark. You may fear it will never get better.
By keeping a gratitude jar in sight, you can see reasons for hope. Even if you don’t open the jar, seeing those bits of paper with your handwritten notes will remind you of the good in your life.
Hope is essential for dealing with mental illness. Keeping a gratitude jar puts your reasons for hope in front of you.
The third way a gratitude jar is beneficial is that it promotes positivity.
Pain, nausea, racing thoughts, severe depression – living with chronic illness gives you many reasons to be negative. As your illness disrupts your life, things may grow bleak.
On those days, It’s time to open your gratitude jar and take out some of those notes. On each one, you’ll find a message with a reason to think positively. Those reasons for being grateful don’t disappear simply because today is a bad day.
Now that we’ve covered the benefits of having a gratitude jar, we’ll next cover how to start one.
How To Start a Gratitude Jar
The best news is that keeping a gratitude jar doesn’t have to cost you a penny. However, if you want to buy a special jar for this purpose, I’ve listed some of my favorites below.
It’s important to pick a clear jar. An old peanut butter of pickle jar will work just fine. My current jar is actually a pasta canister.
The type of jar doesn’t matter, but it’s important you can see what’s in it even when it’s on the shelf. As mentioned above, on those hard days you’ll need to see your jar and the amount of paper in it.
Write it down
Make it your goal every day to write three things you are grateful for.
Did someone make you smile today? Write their name on a piece of paper.
Was your dinner tasty? Write that down.
Do you have a comfortable bed or cozy blanket? That’s another reason.
Anything that adds joy or comfort to your life is a reason to be grateful. Write it down.
Some days are tougher than others, but even those days have reasons to be grateful. You just need to look harder.
Pick Yourself Up
The next time dark days hit you, remember your gratitude jar. Keep it within sight so you can always see how many reasons you have to be thankful.
When things get especially dark, open your jar and pull out some of your notes. Let your own words encourage you and remind you of what’s important. Use those messages to pick yourself up again.
Gratitude is a gift. Choosing to focus on your blessings makes it easier to cope with the rough days of living with illness.
Once you have your jar ready, take a picture and share it on Instagram. Be sure to tag me @speakingbipolar so I don’t miss it.
Until next time, keep fighting.