Happiness Jar

Random Observation/Comment #569: You don’t need a reason to feel great.


I loved fireflies growing up. Whenever I visited Pennsylvania, I’d grab a mason jar and run around the meadows with my brother catching them. Because the flickering green made me happy, I always thought I had bottled happiness.

I learned a valuable lesson that first summer: happiness needs air holes.

Fast forward to early 2016, my wife learned about the happiness jar project when listening to the Another Round podcast. We had recently gotten married, I was nervous about starting a new job, and we just moved to a new place. A little skeptically, I asked, “so what is it?”

She explained the project. Full details here, but essentially when you experience a moment of happiness, you log it on a piece of paper, fold it up, and put it into a jar. At the end of the year, you open the jar and read all the happy memories. An ideal container is something large and preferably translucent so you can see the happiness fill it up.

In response to relationship projects, my inner Ackbar exclaimed, “It’s a trap!” But, of course, I caved. It sounded kinda cool, plus have you ever known me to turn down a side project?

On one of our I-don’t-know-what-number-because-ive-blocked-it-out-my-mind trips to Ikea, we spotted the perfect jar. She already bought some colorful construction paper at a local 99¢ store. During a much needed break from furniture assembly, we pre-cut the paper and opted for a minimal design, an arched label, “Happiness Jar.”

Our rules:

  1. Dates optional but preferred
  2. It can be anything momentous like a big trip to a funny situation. #allthefeels.
  3. No peeking until the end of the year

What did we write?

For me, I focused on inside jokes within the trips and large successes with TEDxBushwick and conferences. My wife had similar accomplishment-based notes, but also general thankfulness for mentors and friends through tough times.

What did we learn?

We decided to keep it clearly displayed on a shelf in our living room. It was a nice signal to recognize these moments as they occurred. Surprisingly, just seeing the jar could make one of us smile when we felt down.

When we opened it on New Year’s Eve and read each story, we had never been happier and never more in love with each other. We are continuing the tradition. I was again reminded that it’s possible to bottle happiness – airholes not always necessary.

~See Lemons Happy