Updated: Apr 25
Remember 2020? I know, it was a while ago but for those who forgot, it was a dumpster fire. The year started with Australia on fire, Kobe died in a helicopter crash, Covid started and kept going. Protests broke out all over the US and it felt like we were on the brink of Civil War for a minute. 2021 was supposed to be better but things got worse. I wonder how 2022 was for you? Better? Worse. And how will 2023 go?
I really believe that's a decision you get to make. Let me explain.
Back in 2020 we started a tradition in our house called the Gratitude Jar. Basically every time something good happened, we wrote it down on a little index card and put it in the jar. And every Sunday either my wife or I would ask, "have we done any gratitudes this week?" and if we didn't, we put at least one in for the week. It didn't have to be anything big. It could have been recounting a funny thing a friend said or an especially upbeat day. And every once in a while something huge would be in there. But anything good got a card.
It took some discipline but we catalogued our little gratitudes and at the end of the year we ended up with this jar that was packed tight with little cards.
Then on January 1, 2021 we opened up our jar, fully expecting to relive that absolutely sloppy soup sandwich of a year and at least be able to laugh about it. What happened next really surprised us. We started reading all of these little gratitudes and suddenly the worst year ever looked a lot different. According to those cards, it was a year about getting outside, finding creative ways to love our friends from afar, and having a roof over our heads. In a really profound way, the jar changed everything. We started looking back on 2020 fondly and taking stock of everything the pandemic and all of the other stuff showed us about how good we actually have it. To this day 2020 has been remembered as a really special year around here.
We've continued the tradition each year since and January 1 has become our favorite holiday. Better than any Christmas Present or Thanksgiving Meal, our little cards have become sacred reminders of these moments - both huge and infinitely small - that make our lives special. And as a bonus, watching that jar fill up throughout the year is an incredible reminder that we're doing things right in our house.
I recently had a coaching session where I was talking about being worried about money after a month of getting annihilated financially. And all at once I had this epiphany. I looked over at my jar and told my coach that all of my "paystubs" are in there. Money will come and go but I'm building a life that's about creating and appreciating joy instead of always striving for more and missing the moment. It's not about some amount of money. It's about what we're creating and any money is only about supporting that life. I instantly smiled and relaxed with a strong reminder that I'm on the right path. I can't promise that will happen to you but it was powerful to think about my "revenue" in terms of basic needs, safety, love, and important moments instead of some dollar amount.
If you want 2023 to be the best year you can remember, might I suggest that you give it a whirl. The process is easy:
Get yourself a jar of some kind. A recycled pickle jar is fine but you can really use anything. Place a stack of index cards and a pen next to it and put it on a shelf.
Once a week, try to remember one good thing that happened and put it in there. Encourage others in your household to do the same. And of course, if something really wonderful happens, capture it in the moment. All you need is the date and a few words about what happened.
Open it on January 1. Go through each card one by one and read it aloud to your partner or your family or your roommates. Talk about what happened and what it meant to you. Lean into feeling whatever comes up. Let tears fall. And trust me, they will.
Start next year's jar with a gratitude about the practice or maybe throw some intentions in there. We like to set intentions for the year to do more of the stuff that is in the jar and less of the stuff that isn't. For example, there weren't any cards in there about how exquisitely drunk I got or how many skiing days I got in. It gave me a moment to consider what's actually pushing my life forward. These are just ideas. There aren't rules. Make it yours.
2023 can be one of the best years of your life. It doesn't take a huge resolution or losing 40 lbs or making a bunch of money. Of course that stuff is nice, but this practice is a lot easier and only requires you to be alive and willing to open your eyes a bit more than usual.
Side effects may include finding more to be happy about throughout the year, training your brain to look for good things, slowing down, and reconnecting to some really important stuff you might not even realize you lost touch with. As a client really eloquently reminded me recently, it's really all about the little things.
Have you done a jar? Do you have advice that I didn't offer? Want to start but still have questions? Share your thoughts in the comments!