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12 Months of Memories – or, The Gratitude Project

JarIn 2012 I came across a project idea to encourage gratitude for all the good things that can happen in your life within a year. You take a mason jar, or decorative holding device of your choice, and fill it with scraps of paper containing all the good things that happen to you throughout the year. At the end of that year you dump them all out and review all the wonderful things you have experienced. I thought this was a great idea, especially considering we tend to dwell on the negativity and drama in our lives instead of focusing on the good stuff. So last year I decorated some jars and gave them out as gifts and also made one for myself. This past weekend I sat down and reviewed my memories for 2013 and had some surprising revelations.

1.  I only had 11 slips of paper. 11. That’s less than one good memory per month, which is pretty abysmal. Now, most of these memories were major events like going indoor skydiving or attending my first live sporting event. So, while I do feel like I need to step up my game a bit to have more fun, this year I will also try to add more experiences that may be small but are still meaningful. Perhaps when a random stranger compliments me and makes my day, or reconnecting with an old friend I haven’t heard from in a while. These things may not be memorable a year from now, but they do make a difference and qualify as a happy moment I can be grateful for.

2. I got a lot more out of the memory when I wrote an extra sentence or two describing the experience. Instead of reading a statement and thinking ok, so, that happened, the description helped me to recall exactly how I felt during that experience and invoked more emotion. This time I will make each deposit into the jar like a micro journal entry.

3. The majority of my memories were related to relationships I am no longer in. Even if you are lucky enough to be in a healthy relationship, this really made me aware that the good times in your life should not be solely dependent on your partner. It’s ok to have fun and make memories by yourself, or with your friends and family.

Have any of you tried this project before? I’d love to hear about it! If you haven’t, why not do it now while the turn of the year is still fresh? Include your happy moments, things/ideas/people you are grateful for, ticket stubs, photographs, quotes that speak directly to your soul, hopes, aspirations, or dreams. Make 2014 a year you will remember forever!