The Happiness Jar

Find 365 days of happiness.

The idea was simple enough, and it seemed like it wouldn’t be terribly difficult to follow through with.

The challenge was, to find one thing, every day for a year, that made me happy, then write it on a piece of paper, and put it in the jar.

Piece of cake, right?

Challenge accepted.

But what is happiness, really?

Could it truly be that simple?

Is there a difference between being happy, and experiencing happiness?

When I started this challenge at the beginning of this year, things were going well, and I had no trouble finding a happy thing in my life to contribute to the jar each day.

But what became very evident soon after, was that happiness does not necessarily come in days… it comes in moments.

Moments that can get lost in a sea of negativity if you don’t snatch them up.

It’s easy to lose perspective when things go awry.

It’s easy to string a series of unfortunate events into a general sense of disappointment.

But even when you’ve had a bad day, if you take a step back, and look at the entire day, it breaks down into many thousands of individual moments. And somewhere, in there, despite the overwhelming initial negative take away, there is bound to be at least one moment of happiness to salvage.

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One tiny flicker of joy in an otherwise dim situation.

One beacon of light in a darkened room.

So it becomes a treasure hunt.

A constant quest for positivity that can rescue an impending downward spiral.

Maybe you overslept, which made you rush, traffic was bad, and you spilled your coffee on yourself.

But also, your favorite song came on the radio, someone stopped and waved you in when you were waiting to turn, and when you stopped to replace your coffee, a nice person front of you had paid for it already.

These distinctions stay with us and create a state of mind that we carry with us everywhere we go.

“Being happy” is a generalization…but experiencing happiness, is specific, and I had never really thought about that way before.

I had never really considered that even on my darkest day I could find a moment of happiness to cling too.

If someone were to have asked me, “What makes you happy? The answers would have seemed obvious. My children, my good health, eating at my favorite restaurant, going for a walk…

But when you get specific, you are able to recognize certain moments that bring you happiness. And they become more resonant, because you recognize them when they actually happen.

For example, spending the day hanging out with my 16 year old son, in general, makes me happy. But, that moment when he hugged me, out of the blue, of his own volition, without any coercion on my part? That moment when he embraced me unexpectedly and I felt emotionally connected to him?

That is happiness experienced on a different level.

So instead of writing “I spent the day with my son”, I added our hug to the jar.

Now when I look back at it, I may not remember what we did that day, or where we went, or what didn’t go right…but I will remember that hug.

I will remember that feeling that came over me when I recognized its impact.

And isn’t that, the point of it?

Of all of it?

If we don’t appreciate those moments of bliss when they happen, then they can get lost in the shuffle.

Fine-tuning yourself to discover those moments of happiness that can be scattered like needles in a haystack on difficult days, is paramount. And on other days, when those moments are abundant, thinking over them all, in order to choose just one, can also make you smile.

It’s not about,”are you happy?”.

No one is happy all of the time.

It’s about all of those moments of happiness strung together, and piled up in a jar, in an effort to outweigh the unhappy ones.

And at the end of the year, on New Year’s Eve, when I open my jar and start reading all of my moments over again, they will be what defines the year that I have had.

They will be the memories that shape my consciousness.

That little jar of happiness, will remind me of all the wonderful and blissful things that happened during this year, despite the hard times and the struggles that I have experienced…

Those hard times that were there to shape me, and teach me, and make me stronger. But it’s the contents of my happiness jar that will remind me why it’s all worth it in the end.

That collection of moments will be a part of my quest to always find the joy in any situation no matter how challenging.

And now, every day, I’m on the lookout for that defining moment.

Every day, I’m aware that those moments exist, and I’m excited to find out which one will be going into my jar.

So what will it be today?

The smell of the rain and a distant crack of thunder?

Someone giving you a complement when you’re feeling bad about yourself?

A quick sniff of a pumpkin candle that reminds you how excited you are for the Fall to come?

Or maybe an unexpected hug that catches you off guard in a good way?

Whatever it is, whatever it will be, savor it in the moment, and put it in your jar…

Because after all, isn’t that, what true happiness is?

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