The Gratitude Jar: A Method for Living an Abundant Life

Practicing gratitude is an activity that becoming more and more widespread in the world of psychology and personal development. In this article, we'll teach you several exercises--like creating a gratitude jar--that will allow you to incorporate this habit into your daily life.
The Gratitude Jar: A Method for Living an Abundant Life
Montse Armero

Written and verified by the psychologist Montse Armero.

Last update: 26 May, 2022

Gratitude is a concept that many religions and philosophical traditions have promoted over the course of history. Each school of thought practices thankfulness according to its own principles, but most have on thing in common… Consciously and intentionally valuing those things boost well-being in our lives. And one way to practice this habit is by creating a gratitude jar.

Gratitude is an act that allows us to concentrate especially on all the good things that happen to us. It places a positive focus on those things and minimizes the attention we give to less pleasant aspects of our lives .

What’s more, it also reduces the frustration that comes with thinking about the things we don’t have or have lost. For example, missed work opportunity, a romantic relationship, material goods, our own health, etc.

According to American author Melody Beattie, gratitude is a practice that transforms our reality:

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life – it turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.” 

The benefits of being grateful

Meditation and gratitude.
Besides creating a tranquil environment, being grateful helps us reduce anxiety and other emotions that produce sadness.

Being grateful as a habit improves our health and offers a greater level of well-being. In the same way, it helps us better manage our anxiety, anger, and sadness. This is because it causes us to appreciate the small details that we often take for granted and helps to reduce suffering.

Let’s consider, for example, people that suffer from depression. It’s very likely that they focus their attention on all of their pain and sadness. What gratitude can do for these individuals is to teach them to value the areas of their lives that are good.

Perhaps these people have the support of their families or they enjoy good physical health. If they have a roof over their heads and the possibility of eating at least one meal a day, then they have something to be thankful for. These are all things that we often take for granted. But not all people have these privileges .

It’s true that reflection on how fortunate we are in certain areas of our lives won’t make our problems go away. Especially for those who are truly suffering, it’s hard to see beyond their pain.

However, we can incorporate gratitude as a habit in our everyday lives through practices like creating a gratitude jar. These kinds of practices help us obtain more of the benefits of thankful living. So, we’ll tell you everything you need to know to create your gratitude jar.

What exactly is a gratitude jar?

A jar full of papers.
A gratitude jar is one of many techniques that exist to help us practice gratitude in our lives.

A gratitude jar is an exercise that allows us to practice gratitude in a very simple way. To make one, all you need is a jar or container, small blank pieces of paper (white or colored), and something to write with.

Once you have your jar, it’s important for each of you to find a time when you’re as calm and peaceful as possible. Then, take a few minutes to summarize the situations or factors from your day that make you feel thankful. Finally, write all of them down on a piece of paper, add the date, fold it up, and put it in your jar.

On many occasions, experts recommend carrying out this practice right before you go to bed. But, if for some reason, that doesn’t work for you, then you can find a moment in the morning before you get started with your day’s activities. What matters is that you set a specific time in your day and commit to it, then it will be easier to establish this new habit

You can also read: Five Habits for Good Mental Health

What other methods can you use to practice gratitude?

The gratitude jar is just one option when it comes to being intentional about practicing gratitude. But, of course, there are plenty of other options you can choose from. For example, with small children, you can suggest they draw a picture of something they feel grateful for from their day. Then, you can hang the drawing in their room or on the refrigerator as a reminder.

You can also create a jar where your entire family leaves messages of gratitude for one another. Or, you can use sticky notes where you write down the things you’re thankful for and post them in some visible area of your home .

In fact, you don’t even have to put them down on paper in order to reap the benefits of gratitude. You can simply establish a habit of spending several minutes of your day reflecting on the aspects of your life that you feel thankful for .

No matter what techniques you decide to use, making gratitude a part of your day will add well-being to your life in a significant way. What’s more, it will give you the opportunity to grow on an emotional level. So, what are you waiting for to get started on transforming your reality?

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

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  • Carr, A. (20007). Psicología positiva: la ciencia de la felicidad. Barcelona: Paidós.
  • Cunha, LF, Pellanda, LC y Reppold, CT (2019). Intervenciones de gratitud y psicología positiva: un ensayo clínico aleatorizado. Frontiers in Psychology, 10.
  • Owens, RL y Patterson, MM (2013). Intervenciones psicológicas positivas para los niños: una comparación de los enfoques de gratitud y lo mejor posible del yo. The Journal of Genetic Psychology, 174 (4), 403–428.
  • Shankland, R. (2018). Los poderes de la gratitud. Plataforma Actual.
  • Yoshimura, S. M. & Berzins, K. (2017) Grateful experiences and expressions: the role of gratitude expressions in the link between gratitude experiences and well-being, Review of Communication, 17:2, 106-118,DOI: 10.1080/15358593.2017.1293836

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.