Jar of happiness


Jar of happiness

After many years of making writing with people both big and small, the jar (or other kind of container) is still one of my all-time favourites.

This is the jar of happiness that my six-year-old daughter and I made together. Once we'd finished decorating a simple Mason's jar, rescued from the back of a cupboard, with washi tapes and pom-poms, we began to fill it with writing. We wrote about little moments that we wanted to remember or things that make us smile. We wrote our happiness on small slips of cut-up paper and then folded them and put them in the jar for safe-keeping.  



As my daughter immediately observed, 'Whenever we're feeling a bit sad, we can reach in and pull one of these bits of happiness from our jar, can't we?' 

Yes. We can. Exactly. 

Of course, it's also a wonderful way to encourage children to practise writing skills. You can so easily combine the activity with prompts aimed at helping them to find concrete ways of describing abstract emotions and concepts, such as:

- How would you describe that?
- What colour is that feeling?
- What does it taste like, feel like, sound like?   
- What does it remind you of?
- If it was an animal, what would it be?
- If you could hold it in your hand, how much would it weigh?

And it's also a great way to develop a daily gratitude practice, which some research suggests might have benefits to our wellbeing. 

I have some theories about why the 'container' idea works so well, which I'll write about elsewhere. Suffice to say here that a container, like this special jar, has the potential to operate not only as a place of safe keeping for our happiness but also as a way to safely contain difficult or even upsetting emotions. It could be a place to enclose or hold those things that might otherwise threaten to overwhelm us.  By writing them down and then putting them somewhere else, we keep them in their place.

More on this later...

For now, at the end of a long week, I'll pull out a little piece of happiness or two and savour the feelings all over again.