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Joy Jar: Small paper slips of joy make a big difference



Photo credit: Dian Jaquay

What are you thankful for? About three years ago I began a practice called the Joy Jar. It came from a photo that some friends of mine had shared on Facebook. Now, sitting on my bedroom windowsill is an old glass milk jug. This is my Joy Jar. Instead of holding milk, this jug holds little scraps of paper upon which I have written happy thoughts, good memories, and anything I am grateful for. When something good happens in my life, I write it down, and add it to my little collection. These thoughts range from running into friends at dinner, to simply seeing the moon or stars at night. When I am upset I retreat to my room and shake a few slips out of my jug, and remind myself of the beauty of my life. Doing so helps me find things to be grateful for when I am unhappy. Since starting my Joy Jar, I have found that I appreciate things that I once took for granted-things like the smell of the forest after a rainstorm, or having a roommate who introduces me to new television programs. I also find myself saying “thank you” to people for things that I used to hardly notice, like picking up litter on the sidewalk. Practicing the Joy Jar helps me appreciate the life I live, and it causes me to look forward to New Years, when I shake out all of the paper scraps, and relish in a year well lived. Neil Ingerman


A student was affected by the idea of a joy jar. Read what she decided to do:

“According to Echart Tolle, “Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance (Tolle, 2005).” Numerous studies have shown that gratitude can have copious amounts of positive effects on our mental, emotional, and even physical health. The appreciation, or acknowledgment, of the positive things in our life, in turn makes us feel more optimistic about every aspect of our lives. Mothers day recently passed, and I was blessed enough to be able to express my gratitude for all that my mom has been and done for me. For my Interpersonal Communication class with Dr. Perry at Western Washington University we created “Joy Jars” in which we place positive notes for our less than joyful days. For mothers day I opted for my own rendition of the “Joy Jar”. In foam stickers I wrote, “joy” “love you”, and “2014”. Inside on bright slips of paper, I wrote reasons I am thankful for my mom, happy memories we have shared, and some of my favorite parts of my mom. Upon receiving it she called me full of joy and appreciation for all of the little “thank you” notes that filled her jar. That jar now sits on her nightstand filling her dark days with little rays of sunshine. Nothing could make me happier than knowing that her days are even slightly brighter because of that jar.”-Samantha Stahle

Check out what Kid President has to say about his experience with joy jars:

Helpful Resource:

How do you actually create a joy Jar?: http://www.mykidsadventures.com/jar-of-joy


Tolle, E. (2005). A new earth: Awakening to your life’s purpose. Penguin.

Written By: Neil Ingerman, Samantha Stahle

Edited By: Jackie Heller and Tara B. Perry


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