It’s only been eight days since I started keeping a Happiness Jar but it’s already been pretty interesting so far. It turns out keeping a Happiness Jar isn’t just about remembering to write out a happy moment from the day onto a slip of paper to put into your jar.
I’m more likely to notice now when I’m happy. It sounds kind of strange when I put it like that – what, you mean you didn’t used to know when you were happy? – but sometimes I can be having a happy moment and, because my mind is somewhere else, I don’t even realize it. But now that I know I’ll be filling at least one slip of paper at the end of the day – and hopefully several slips of paper, because there’s a lot of room in that jar – I’m far more aware of all the times I’m happy. Mainly, I find myself taking the time to notice.
It’s the small things
I don’t know about you, but when I think about being happy, I think about the big things – you know, winning the lottery, getting “The Call” from a publisher offering me a six figure publishing contract, things like that. What’s been quite amazing to me is how it’s the small things in my life that make me happy. Walking hand in hand with Dylan on our way to his dance class, talking and laughing. Having coffee in bed on a bright sunny winter morning. Getting to the subway platform just as the train pulls in. A barista at the local coffee shop who has such a genuine smile.
These are the things that are filling my Happiness Jar, and they are so beautiful. The kicker is that I never really noticed them before, not the way I do now. And even better? I can have a whole day filled with all these happy little moments, and it’s like this cumulative thing. One after another, they can come non-stop. As if all those happy little moments are catching and contagious somehow.
Which feel just as happy as the big moments
And guess what? The feeling of happiness that shoots through me when something small and sweet happens feels the same as when I get all happy over something big. There’s no difference in the feeling, no matter what the size of the moment, the bigness or littleness of the situation. It’s all the same happy feeling.
Not only am I noticing more often now when I’m happy, I’m also finding myself more open to those happy moments. When I walk outside, I’m not always doing it head down, focused only on getting to my destination. Instead, sometimes I remember to look around, see things, listen more – I’m more engaged with my surroundings.
A few nights ago I was taking Dylan to yet another dance class. It was super windy, and as we turned the corner a crushed Coke can came dancing along the pavement. It made an interesting sound – something I don’t think I would have noticed before – and Dylan and I ended up having a wonderful little conversation about it.
I said, “Did you hear the can?” And he said, “It sounds like music. Da da dada da da.” I said, “You’re right!” And he said, “Maybe one day that can will be playing with a symphony orchestra.” Just like that, the whole moment was transformed from some piece of trash getting blown about by the wind into something musical and magical. It was quite amazing, and it only happened because at that moment the can blew by us, I was more engaged.
Like I said, it’s only been eight days since I started putting those little slips of paper into my Happiness Jar. But I’m really liking what I’ve been discovering. Mind you, I’m still not that good at noticing and being more engaged – it’s just that I’m better at it than I used to be. I’m pretty sure I’m still deep in thought more often than not and not seeing the happy moment that just tried to embrace me. I’m hoping though, that this is all part of exercising the happiness muscle, and over time this way of stepping into life will be just that thing that I do.