The Joy Jar

For the past three years, I’ve kept a joy jar – a jar I fill with slips of paper. Each slip commemorates enjoyable moments in my life, big and small. I’m highly inconsistent with it, but I try to remember as many of the things that brought joy into my life as I can. Every year on January 1, I open the jar, spill out the slips and smile. Starting the new year off by remembering the joy of the previous year is a pretty awesome way to look at life.

This year, I noticed trends, pockets of activities that routinely led to joy. Writing, time with friends, and beautiful places are all high on my happiness meter. This year, I’ve decided to be more proactive. As a result, I’ve been making an effort to line up time with friends, saying yes more than I say no. This week alone, I’ve spent time with three different friends; in year’s past, for this introvert, that would be more like a month’s worth of activity. As I often find people exhausting, I’ve been surprised by how energized socializing has made me feel, despite all the energy I expend in these interactions.

There is a downside to my two new trends (people and walking), I’m spending less time writing. I don’t love that, but I’m confident I’ll find a way to rebalance things. For now, change is good. My walks give me time to think about my writing and how to improve my work. Talking to people helps me add depth to characters. When I do sit down to write, I find I’m better focused.


I’ve always been more of an appreciate-joy-when-I-notice-it kind of person. Trying to actively find joy is a different kind of experience. It’s more taxing, but also more rewarding. Perhaps I need to do both to find the life I dream about.  

My new joy jar is filling with slips. 2020 has the potential to be filled with joy. I just have to keep my eyes open.

What brings you joy?

Ciao for now,

Lauren J


  1. I love your Joy Jar and the patterns you’re seeing this year! I also find that time with friends and seeing beautiful or interesting things (like plays and exhibits) often bring me energy and joy. But you’re right, it takes being proactive to set these things up instead of just focusing on daily to-dos. But I agree with you that it’s worth it — that’s what we want to remember in our lives, not that we got our laundry done every week.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is a fabulous idea. I might be tempted to take a look in my joy jar on days when I feel gloomy and down. I would put the notes back and still have the notes for an end of year perusal!


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