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.