I attempted a gratitude jar experiment to alter my grumpy methods


For the second 12 months in a row, my husband and I agreed to take part in a gratitude problem, the place we’d deposit nearly a 12 months’s value of notes — our non-public ideas — into a big glass Mason jar.

I had failed on the experiment the 12 months earlier than — it had grown cumbersome and compelled, writing little notes about all that I used to be grateful for. It didn’t carry me happiness, it largely made me really feel aggravated at having one other factor I used to be presupposed to do. It felt like toxic positivity.

However my husband loved it final 12 months, and we determined to attempt once more, this time shortening the size of the experiment. As a substitute of reviewing the jar’s contents on Jan. 1, we agreed to overview them over Thanksgiving, a vacation the place individuals are inspired to carry gratitude entrance and middle.

The experiment had truly been my concept. I’d secretly hoped {that a} jar full of gratitude would change our outlook final 12 months on the pandemic-defined regular we’d been thrust into. This 12 months, once more, I used to be determined to really feel gratitude. However as soon as once more, it didn’t go as anticipated.

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By summer time, I used to be a gratitude deadbeat. I’d contributed subsequent to nothing to the jar, having let Matt’s contributions fill it to the brim. Overcome with curiosity, I cheated in August. With out telling Matt, I’d dumped out and reviewed the contents, lengthy earlier than our agreed-upon expiration date of Thanksgiving.

The jar confirmed what I’d already identified: Matt had spent most of 2022 conjuring gratitude for issues large and small, from joyful little errands on his personal to time we spent collectively. It could be straightforward to deride him in thoughts for being a Pollyanna, however the reality is, I used to be envious.

I had a choice to make: confess to Matt and finish the entire experiment, or dig in and begin writing issues that (supposedly) make me really feel appreciative. I used to be hesitant to attempt. What if it didn’t work?

I started to inform myself all kinds of tales about what my lackluster efficiency meant. After two years of failing at gratitude, the jar had nearly change into sentient, mocking me from its spot on the eating room desk. Did I need to be somebody who couldn’t establish — and really feel grateful for — life’s small and valuable moments. Is there something worse than being an ingrate? Is there something worse than being married to at least one?

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It appeared I used to be an outlier: In line with the Mayo Clinic, gratitude challenge participants find new appreciation for life. So what was improper with me?

I waited till I used to be nearly 40 years outdated to get married, and really feel fortunate to have discovered such a loving and delicate man. However in fact, gratitude — as an idea — doesn’t come naturally to me. I’m a cynical curmudgeonly sort. Matt and I spent the primary 5 years of our relationship separated by 600 miles and two time zones, a dynamic that left me in a perpetually bitter temper as weeks (and generally months) glided by with out seeing one another. I wore black to our marriage ceremony; I’m all the time in mattress by 8 p.m.

We’ve solely been married for 3 years, and Matt and I had spent most of our union in isolation, first due to the pandemic, after which due to my disdain for venturing out in public (I do all of my grocery buying earlier than 8 a.m. to the extent attainable). Our social life is sort of nil and the reality is, we’re each grumpier than ordinary, my adverse perspective specifically sustaining far longer than appears wholesome. In line with the World Happiness Report 2021, due to the pandemic, psychological well being points have elevated by practically 50 p.c.

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I felt guilt in dishonest on the experiment. However I additionally skilled a shift as I pored over Matt’s scratchy handwriting. It felt as if I used to be studying a map of how we spent 2022 collectively. Matt’s notes described his gratitude for the smallest of particulars, particular person moments that — for me — all blended collectively, equivalent to selecting up books from the library or cuddling with our new rescue cat. He even included a notice about watching TV collectively and making an attempt a brand new beer. In reviewing his contributions, I used to be all of the sudden overcome with renewed appreciation for my marriage and the life we’ve constructed collectively. You might even name it gratitude.

I went into this experiment anticipating it to fail. However I feel I simply wanted to have gratitude modeled for me. I’m a trainer by commerce, and it appears so apparent now. College students who’re unfamiliar with ideas have to have them modeled by somebody skilled, or at the least extra acquainted. And that’s the position that Matt — and the gratitude jar — performed.

I rapidly scribbled just a few issues that didn’t really feel compelled or pretend: instructing a brand new batch of scholars, writing a ebook and discovering my favourite hard-to-get Italian cookie on-line.

Whereas I’m nonetheless not a gratitude junkie, I’m feeling a bit much less like a curmudgeon lately. I’d name {that a} success.

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