How to Keep a Happiness Jar

A happiness jar is a project inspired by Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of Eat, Pray, Love.[1] It's a simple way of reminding yourself every day of the good that came out of your day, even if the day has been a challenge.


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    Every day, think of something that made you happy. It could be something that happened that very day, but it could really be anything. Be truthful to yourself; the simpler things that delighted you are often the happiest moments.
    • Set aside your cultural, faith-based understandings of "prayers/luck/wishes", etc. that seek happiness; also set aside any inner voice criticisms about happiness. One of the things that may impact your use of the jar is prior understandings or inculcated messaging about what "rules" you need to follow to get the jar to "work". The thing is, there are no rules. The jar is to serve you, rather than you serving the ritual.
    • If you want to put other things in the jar, like a lucky token, ticket stub from a trip you loved or a note from a loved one, go ahead. It's your jar and your fulfillment.
    • A variation of this concept is to focus on happy moments from a certain relationship in your life, like your relationship with your mate, or your children. A couple, for example, can commit to writing down things they love about each other every day and depositing the notes into the same jar.
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    Write it down on a piece of paper. Find scraps of paper suitable for writing a small message on. You could go to the effort of making a pile of ready-made pieces of paper (this can be a good motivator to keep doing this each day) or you could simply rip a piece of paper from a napkin, junk mail, or similar, as needed.
    • If you can't find a piece of paper, write your note on your phone. Send a text message or e-mail to yourself and remember to transcribe it later, so you can put a physical note in the jar.
  3. Image titled Keep a Happiness Jar Step 3
    Make deposits into the happiness jar daily. The idea is somewhat to use it daily but life can get busy and events intervene, so if you miss days, don't be fussed; just pick it up from where you left off.
    • Set a daily reminder or alarm on your phone.
    • Keep the jar in a safe place where it's less likely to be bumped or in the way of everyday activities but ideally, it should be in sight to remind you to use it.
    • If the jar has a lid, keep the lid on in case it gets knocked over. This also keeps the dust out, especially important if your jar is very large and will be sitting in the same spot for months or years.
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    Read the messages when life gets tough. This is the most wonderful part of using a happiness jar. When you feel that everything is getting to you and that there isn't much happiness in your life, take out a few of the messages and read them through. These reminders of the happiness that has been in your life and will continue to be present in your life will serve as a source of morale boosting. Your past happiness will comfort you and give you hope that there is more to come. It will also remind you that happiness is found in moments along the journey and is not a single destination with any defined point or actions.
    • Some people enjoy starting a new happiness jar every year, and reading the contents at the end of the year.
    • Consider making a collage or scrapbook of all your notes.
    • You may wish to share your happiness jar on Pinterest and/or even with Elizabeth Gilbert. There are a few dedicated Pinterest pages featuring happiness jars; just do a quick search in the site. Other sites such as Facebook, Tumblr, etc. also have some ongoing shared happiness jar projects.


  • When the jar gets full, Gilbert says "just make another one".
  • It is nice if the jar is wide enough to put your hand in through the mouth of the jar and reach down into it. However, this can be worked around by simply tipping the jar to obtain the paper pieces if you want to read later.
  • Make sure the jar is clean. Wash and rinse the jar to make sure that there is no food, sauce, ect. Make sure that you dry the jar thoroughly too.
  • Explain the concept of the Happiness Jar to your family. Your children may be interested in making their own jar and learning the importance for looking for the good in their day.
  • Select a jar that pleases you. It will be on display, so it should be something pretty or interesting to look at. It doesn't need to be specially bought––a jar of your favorite food washed out and dried can be ideal and in some cases, there are such jars with pretty designs imprinted on them. Gilbert describes the jars her friends and fans have used as including "old pickle containers, to beautiful handmade ceramics, to bowls set in the middle of the table, to rare antiques, to a child's handicraft".[1]

Things You'll Need

  • Nice jar or other suitable container, of whatever sort you like
  • Scrap paper
  • Marker, pen, etc.

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