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Joy Jar: Celebrate What Brings You Joy

A few years ago my youngest daughter painted a salsa jar with acrylic paint, put a few slips of paper inside, and gave it to me as a gift. It was, she explained, a simple way to celebrate our favorite memories. We were happy to find that committing our favorite memories to paper soon became a way to discover and savor life’s joys.

In coming months, as our time permitted, we jotted down details of family time and special moments, experiences such as time spent talking and sharing stories around a campfire, a visit from a favorite aunt, and impressions of a hike we took together. It was amazing to me that only a few times doing so helped me forge a habit of being on the lookout for the good in each moment.

Even when I didn’t have time to write something on one of the slips of paper, I began to sort each day’s good from the not so good. As I made a conscious effort to focus on the seemingly small things I’d previously taken for granted, I found abundant joy. The laughter, hugs, and smiles we shared as a family were made all the sweeter. Even when times were downright miserable, challenging, or heartbreaking, in consciously looking for something— anything—joyous, I miraculously found it.

Making a Joy Jar is indeed a wonderful way to remember the wonder and happiness of all that’s good in the world. All you need is a jar with a screw-on top or lid. A Mason jar works nicely, as do washed and dried pickle, spaghetti sauce, or salsa jars. You can make Joy Jars as a family, have your kids make and decorate them for friends or neighbors, or make and keep one to savor for yourself. Write down your joys, either as a family or individually, for one month; read through them at the end of the month—or when times are difficult and you need a boost. Choose some of your favorites and scrapbook them along with family photos, or display them on a bulletin board or on the refrigerator. Start over again the next month, discovering and celebrating life’s joys.

Need a few ideas for daily joys? Here are some suggestions:

        A hug from your toddler—or teen!

        Quiet moments when the world is still and you’re at peace.

        The warmth of a smile.

        Waking up to sunshine—or maybe a gentle rain or fluffy white snow.

        An unexpected call from a friend or relative you’ve been missing.

        Making progress toward a goal or dream.

        The aroma of freshly baked bread or cookies; the crisp smell of fall.

        Gaining strength of mind and purpose.

        Finding harmony and balance.

        The kindness of a stranger.


To help get you started, I’ve created a Joy Jar tag—a free printable that includes five shapes you can cut out and use to record your joys on. Cut out the tag and attach it to the jar with a length of ribbon or twine. Print as many as you like of both the tags and the shapes. Enjoy them, share them, and celebrate living in joy!

Access the Joy Jar printable here!

Like the article? We bet you’ll love this book:

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Lori Nawyn is an award-winning writer, illustrator and graphic designer whose key passion in life is to help others discover their own unique inner strengths. She is the author of the novel My Gift to You (October 2010), and the inspirational book fo… Read More


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