When faced with life’s curveballs, it’s often difficult to remember what we’re grateful for. Yet whether it’s special skills or talents, positive attributes, strengths, or supportive relationships, we all have things – big and small – we can practice gratitude for.
Creating a gratitude jar is an easy way to do this. Similar to a gratitude journal, a gratitude jar is a designated receptacle for acknowledging, remembering, and savoring the beauty in our lives. Starting one, whether it's on your own, with family, or a partner, can help plant the seeds for thankfulness, and foster the attitude of positive awareness in your daily life.
What is a gratitude jar?
A gratitude jar is a mindfulness exercise that allows us to focus on our strengths by acknowledging positive attributes and supports and expressing appreciation for them. In this exercise, you create a special jar filled with meaningful gratitude prompts.
Here's what you need to create one, as well as steps to make yours:
- Clear jar, such as a mason jar (plastic or glass)
- Art supplies (stickers, ribbons, magazine clippings)
- Slips of blank papers
Steps to make a Gratitude Jar:
- Personalize the clear jar with decorations to invoke positive thoughts and feelings.
- Write out gratitude prompts on the slips of paper:
- Fill out a few of the prompts to include statements that will always be applicable (i.e. “My favorite family tradition is…”)
- Leave any prompts that are situational blank (i.e. “I felt happy today when…”)
3. Fold the statements and add them to the jar.
4. Pull out the statements and fill them out whenever you need a boost of positivity.
When to use a Gratitude Jar:
- When you wake up in the morning
- Before a stressful event, such as a work presentation, exam, or first date
- After receiving disappointing news, such as being passed over for a promotion, performing poorly on exam, or a romantic relationship ending
- In conjunction with other mindfulness exercises, such as Anxiety 54321
- While you meditate
- Before you go to bed at night
Benefits of practicing gratitude
Acknowledging and appreciating the goodness of our lives has proven to be beneficial. Studies have shown that practicing gratitude can have a tremendous impact on our mental health in the following ways:
- Reframes unhelpful thinking
- Decreases anxiety
- Promotes resilience
- Strengthens relationships
- Increases stress-tolerance
- Fosters joy, kindness, compassion, and optimism
Here are a few conditions and challenges that a Gratitude Jar can help with:
- Adjustment Difficulties
- Body Image
- Chronic Illness & Chronic Pain
- Panic Attacks
- Social Anxiety
- Stress Management
Considering seeking support from a therapist
Mindfulness exercises can be utilized on our own; however, when experiencing adversity, it isn’t always our first instinct to practice gratitude. It can often feel easier to focus on the negative when life gets challenging.
A therapist who specializes in the following types of therapy can help you to focus on the positive and practice gratitude:
Strengths-based therapy is an approach to psychotherapy that draws on what is going well in your life. The idea is that you can make progress toward your goals more easily when you focus on positive qualities – which is where gratitude comes in!
With this approach to psychotherapy, you'll work with your therapist to collaborate and develop solutions to problems using your personal strengths and skills.
This approach to psychotherapy aims to improve emotional well-being and functioning by building on positive emotions, relationships, and strengths. In this modality, you might expect to spend a few sessions focusing specifically on gratitude and forgiveness.
This approach to psychotherapy brings awareness to how unhelpful thought patterns or beliefs impact your emotions and behavior.
MBSR is a group therapy that uses mindfulness practices to increase awareness and compassion. Strategies for establishing and fostering an attitude of gratitude are often emphasized in this approach.
If you're new to therapy, you can learn more about how to find a therapist here.