On the morning of 1 January 2018, I signed onto one of my social media accounts. I wanted to read articles before I marched up to my room to open my box. A British woman I befriended earlier in 2017 had been having a difficult time since the sudden (and shocking) death of her partner in August. I noticed that she made a post about creating a smile box. I responded rather quickly, “great idea! I would recommend a happiness box to collect these happy moments throughout the year.” I loved my project and couldn’t help but recommend.
However, I decided to scroll up and read all of the comments she received. Someone mentioned a happiness jar and my friend responded, “I am still really depressed, and right now it is very difficult to look at the positives of every day.” Someone responded that she should take her time. I decided to respond as well – “Please, please, please take your time. It took me many years to work through grief and depression to even get to the point of making a happiness jar/box.”
She responded that I was “rocking it” and I told her she was “rocking it as well” and that I was proud of the progress she was making. As I was opening my happiness box, I was thinking of this back and forth. After my grandma died in 2013 and after the trauma I experienced toward the end of 2013; I was very depressed. Very depressed doesn’t quite accurately describe how I felt. It was not until mid-2015 that I started working on those feelings and started to cheer up a little. Toward the end of 2015, I saw the idea for a “happiness jar.” I thought I would give it a try. I was looking to add positivity to my life and thought I was at the point where I could start looking positively at life.
I ran out of room in the jar in 2016. I did keep mementos (that I still have) that sparked joy from that year. However, I knew a box would work better with the project, though at one point I thought my box would overflow too. I felt proud that I completed the project, this marked the first time I finished a long-term project since 2013. I began to open my box with that proud moment on my mind.
However, I saw what my friend was talking about in her feed. While I had many happy moments in 2017 and loved reading about those moments, I also had some disappointing moments in 2017 as well. I wrote about the disappointments, but also added why I was grateful. I added gratitude to those disappointments, as well as trying again and how I would proceed. It was bittersweet reading those slips. I know it took me some time to work on not breaking down into deep despair and four years ago I would have. While I still feel sad about some of those disappointments, that is life. I wanted to move to Canada, but right now is not the time. Maybe I’ll do it again, but maybe I’ll end up somewhere else. Happiness is not only about the good times but also having the gratitude that if something does not quite work out, at least you were given a chance, you have a support network, and you might do it again. If not, gratitude tends to create resilience to try other things.
As I finished opening the box, I thought that maybe this should not be called just the happiness box, but the happiness, gratitude, and resilience box. Happiness is a continuum, but I believe it is more important to be grateful since gratitude is linked to resilience and helps people to bounce back after defeats (and after adequate mourning).
It took me a few years to complete this project, and I hope that my friend will be able to when she is ready. I bought a scrapbook album for the slips and pictures; I want to look back on 2017 and remember. I cannot wait to complete 2018’s box.