Last year, 2015, was one of the most difficult and stressful years of my life.
I had to move in with my dad and share a room with my younger sister. I was working a part-time job that required about 3 hours of travel a day to get to and from. This job barely paid me enough to afford the dollar menu at McDonald’s. And I was also finishing up grad school which included writing a 60-page thesis.
It was really hard for me to focus on anything other than the bad times. I felt like I had hit rock bottom. I felt like I was unhappy and stressed out all the time. If someone had asked me about some of the good times from 2015, it would be really hard for me to think of a single instance.
But there were good times. There were a lot of good times.
New Year’s Day of 2015, the first day of my incredibly shitty year, my sisters and I created a happiness jar. We decorated a mason jar. The mason jar would hold all my happiest memories for the year. Any moment or event of 2015 that made us exceptionally happy would be written about on a piece of paper and then placed in the jar. The idea was to read all the happy memories on New Year’s Day of 2016 to remind ourselves of all the good times throughout the year.
Before opening that jar on January 1st, 2016, if anyone had asked me how my 2015 was, I would have responded quickly with, “It was really stressful and not so great.”
However, all those memories I placed in my happiness jar throughout the year told a different story. They didn’t focus on the late nights spent writing papers or the depressed early mornings spent riding on a train to a job that paid next to nothing.
The jar was a nice reminder that 2015 wasn’t nearly as bad as I imagined. I had a lot of great moments in 2015. From my trip to California to random lunches with my sister to celebrating my nephew’s birthday, numerous things brought me incredible joy during the year. I was so busy between jobs and schoolwork that I didn’t have time to think about all the little moments that made life great.
And that’s how life always is. It’s the big moments, whether good or bad, that get all the credit. Getting married, births, deaths, graduations, lay offs, new jobs, etc. These BIG moments are the ones that get all the focus.
However, it’s all the little moments in between that make the big moments so significant.
People often describe their wedding day as one of the greatest days of their lives. And while that might be true, there were so many wonderful random days or moments that let up to that one big day. The first date. First kiss. First time you realized you were in love. The day he came over with soup and your favorite movie cause you were sick.
All those little moments that you don’t give much thought to are what really make life worthwhile. The moments that are easily forgotten when life becomes too busy (AKA when life is life).
When the majority of life is spent waking up, getting ready for work, going to work, coming home, and then getting ready to do it all over again the next day, it’s only natural that the big moments are the ones that stand out. The nights you spent staying up much later than you should have with your favorite people can easily be forgotten. But those moments are the real ones to cherish.
With New Year’s Eve just around the corner (Don’t make a face. It’s already the end of September. 2017 is going to be here before we know it), I challenge you to start your own happiness jar. Or shoebox. Or kitchen drawer. Wherever you want to store those memories. Just do it!
It’ll be a nice reminder of the moments that truly matter. And also remind you that life is a lot more amazing than we give it credit.
We have all been there. Life changes can be a benefit to us so we can re-evaluate what we are doing and to course correct. Hang in there my friend.
Thankfully that year of hell is long gone.
When I lived in NYC several years ago I wrote the best part of my day and put it in a mason jar. I found it recently and it made me so happy!
I loved reading this and learning more about you. This was a great post, and I kind of love your perspective and attitude… Can’t wait to read your next one! 🙂 ❤
Thanks so much! 🙂
Awww. Liz. What a heart warming post 🙂 ❤ Okay, I will join you the coming year. Sounds like a great idea 🙂
Sending loads of love your way. Xx.
You definitely should do it. You’ll love looking back at all the memories you had.
I love this idea! I might have to steal it. What a great way to remember the happy times rather than focusing on the bad.
You should do it. I think you’ll really enjoy it. It’s so much fun when you go back and read the memories from the past year.
I’ve been meaning to do this… but your personal account has confirmed it. Definitely doing it in 2017!
Glad I could inspire you!
This is wonderfully written. I do agree with you that we often focus on either the big, positive events or the many little bad events in our lives. It’s not the best mentality and as uncertain, cynical adults, we fall prey to it. But the happiness jar you proposed sounds like a lovely plan, and perhaps I’ll take part in it, too! There’ll always be some bad things that happen every year, but there’s also many good ones, too. Whether we choose to look at one or the other depends on ourselves, so it’s up to us to make it what it’s worth! Thanks for sharing.
Yea, the happiness jar is just a great reminder of all the wonderful little things that have happened in life. The things that are so easily forgotten. You should definitely do one this upcoming year!
Yes! I totally agree with everything you said. Our small moments just fade away with the wind as if they never existed, while we tend to hold onto the bad memories for dear life. I remember someone last year posting a recap of 2015 for New Years (similar to your happiness jar) and I decided to make a running list for 2016. I reviewed it Monday and couldn’t stop laughing. I had forgotten ALL of these AWESOME things I had experienced up to date. I’m trying to update the list as we speak (thanks to this post lol). Are you working on a jar for this year too?
That’s awesome. Are you going to share some of the list on your blog?
I am doing a jar this year as well. I want to do them every year. And I keep the old memories from the previous year in a memory box. It’ll be so much fun to go back on these years later.
Yes! I’m doing so at the end of the year. Isn’t it crazy how fast this year went by? I feel like I just started my blogging goals a few months ago and here we are at the very end of the year! I love the idea of keeping the old memories for later. It’ll be cool to see where your head was in the early and later years lol.
OMG I was just talking about this earlier this morning: about how fast this year has gone by. I cannot believe that it’s already October.
We might as well start preparing for next year and we HAVE to end this year with a bang!!
I love this and totally agree. I have a happiness jar, but I’m always forgetting to put things in it! Need to start again now.
You definitely should! I love my happiness jar.
Aw Liz! I love this so much! It’s such a great reminder that no matter how bad things may seem, there is always something to be grateful for. More often than not, it’s those little moments. Love the idea of keeping a Happiness Jar btw! May have to make one of my own. Like, yesterday.
Do make a happiness jar. I think you’d appreciate so much. You can even start for 2016 and document the great memories from the next three months.
I will absolutely do that, hon! Thank you again for the awesome idea!! 🙂
I’ve never heard anyone doing something like this. I think this is a wonderful idea! I couldn’t agree more that we can just blur over some really happy moments for the sake of being ‘busy’ and this would be a great way to remember the good times.
I love this! What a beautiful story. I actually had a happiness plastic container one year and like you, I was reminded that my year was pretty damn good after all. I should do this again. Thanks for sharing!
You definitely should do it again. Going through my past memories is the best way to start a new year.