Happiness is attending a book discussion. Haven’t participated in two years since my focus was on moving to Canada last year. While in time it’ll become a focus again, it won’t be the primary focus. Happiness is surrounding yourself with friends, family, and people who love you. The group was happy to see me again.
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.
After I opened Happiness Jar 2016, went through the travel albums and reflected on the achievements of the year (I overcame my fear of test taking and past the IELTS exam with flying colours – I was one step closer to Canada), it was time to help mom prepare for our New Year’s Day open house with our family.
During our open house, I thought about different ideas for 2017. I definitely wanted to continue the happiness project because I loved seeing what made me happy in 2016. However, the jar was too small and didn’t last me the whole year. I also wanted to include more photos since I love photography.
I had tons of boxes in my room and I thought a box would be fitting; my happiness and gratitude is a gift to myself. A box would also hold a lot more than a jar. After our open house, I began putting together happiness box 2017. I decorated the box top and included my first card.
By February, I started including mementos in the box. I had the opportunity to meet Mayhem last February and they signed two CDs for me – I definitely wanted to include that in the box. I also included photos from the concert. By March, my box was definitely feeling loved.
However, in August I had to start using the box top to finish out the rest of 2017. I worried that I might run out of room and I would have to do what I did with the jar: collect slips and mementos outside of the box. Fortunately, I did make it to the end of the year. The box top was filled to the gills by December 31.
Towards the end of 2015, I was browsing Pinterest and saw a board for happiness jars. As someone who struggles with depression and after a rough year, I thought the project could help me overcome my feelings of depression. I had a jar, saved from when Nan saved old-fashioned jars for water, and it would be fitting to use something of Nan’s for a happiness project. I went to Michael’s and bought the stickers. I had fun decorating the jar and it looked gorgeous after I added the finishing touches.
I will admit that I started the project a little early – the end of December 2015 had positive moments and I didn’t want to wait until the beginning of 2016 to start writing. I wrote every day until the end of February and I ran out of space. I was disappointed, but I didn’t stop collecting happy, proud, and grateful moments in 2016.
When I opened the jar on 1 January 2017, I decided to place the scrapbooks I made, the IELTs exam I took for immigration to Canada and passed with flying colours, and other moments in 2016 that didn’t quite fit into the jar. I enjoyed reading the notes and reflecting on what made me happy and grateful.
After opening the jar, I had a new idea for 2017…
Thanks for joining me!
Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton