Making a Gratitude Jar

Adopting a daily gratitude practice has been shown to have many psychological, as well as physical benefits. Gratitude is “the quality or feeling of being grateful or thankful,” in other words, it is an intentional focus on what you have to be grateful for, even in the midst of adversities.

Gratitude may be expressed in different ways, many of them simple and requiring little effort, such as taking a quiet moment to reflect in the morning or before bed, or pausing at different times during the day to express thanks. You can do this quietly within yourself, or openly express your gratitude to others. Gratitude journals are a popular tool for capturing 2 to 3 things you are grateful for each day. Another variation of this is the Gratitude Jar.

A Gratitude Jar is a physical representation of your thankfulness. It could be as simple as writing your thoughts down on little slips of paper and dropping them into a bowl each day, or like the technique shared here, writing your thoughts out on river rocks. The point is that you have something not just to focus your attention on gratitude, but to come back to again and again as a reminder of what you are grateful for. This is a great project to do with the kids, and can be as simple or elaborate as you choose.

Supplies

  • Medium to large-sized vase, jar or other vessel
  • Several smooth, light-colored river rocks or similar stones
  • Black fine-tipped permanent markers
  • Ribbon, fabric, construction paper or other materials to decorate your jar

Start by focusing your thoughts, one at a time, on what you are grateful for, writing each one on a river rock. You can start with simple things such as, “Thank you for the sunshine,” or “I’m grateful to be alive.” Some areas of focus might be family, relationships, work, health, finances, nature, material possessions, etc. Most people start off with big things like their children or their careers, but as time goes on, find the space to be grateful for running water, a beautiful flower, a moment of peace.

It’s helpful to create a habit around when you add to your Gratitude Jar. You could add to it as a nightly routine before winding down, or simply keep it in an area of your home where it’s convenient for you to pause and write down a thought, whenever you feel led to do so.

Gratitude Jars could be personal or for the whole family, creating a stronger bond among family members, stimulating teamwork and positive feelings in the home. It could become part of a bedtime or dinner routine, for everyone to contribute equally and share their thoughts with one another. Your Gratitude Jar could also act as a source of conversation and connection in your home. It’s a clever tool to help reduce stress, develop empathy and compassion towards yourself and others, and improve your overall well-being.