Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Stay Happy This Holiday Season & Beyond:How to Harness Your Joyful Moments Even In Tough Times

I have found a clean, empty jar and labeled it 'Jar of Joy.'

Over the last few weeks, one challenge piled on top of another and as I was feeling weighed down, I spotted a post on Facebook (thank you Rama!) and thought it was just what my family and I needed - A reminder. A jar full of joyful memories! 

I will write notes about having a full house for Thanksgiving. I will write about celebrating Hanukkah with our older boys home and being able to chat and hug and laugh with them. I'm celebrating the small milestones-They will add up.

The last 10 weeks have been challenging. 

After a year and a half of unexplained pain and illness our youngest child, Jacob has been diagnosed with  abdominal migraines. He has missed almost three weeks of school since the semester began. He also has his Bar Mitzvah in a couple of weeks and has spent the last few months, in great pain or in catch up mode for both his school work and Bar Mitzvah preparation. 

We have made trips  and calls to the doctors' office and the pain clinic at Children's hospital. We have learned about a whole new chronic illness we'd never heard of and have tried to come to terms with. Yet again, we find ourselves in a medical situation that has little research, few medicines that help with the pain and no known cure. 

 I have to tell you, the relentlessness of this situation, has taken its toll. I admit I am a little tired of these tough times. 

As I look back over the last 6 years, it's easy to list the  medical  challenges we've had to deal with and easy to forget there have been some wonderful moments as well.  

It has been scientifically documented that we are more likely to remember bad things that have happened than good. We remember where we were on 9/11, 7/7 or the Tsunami but can't remember where we were last week. Tragic, traumatic and emotionally charged situations stay in our memories.

Matt Wilson a professor of neurobiology at MIT explains in a Time magazine article  that our brains file these situations away, so that we can learn from and refer to them later and avoid or deal better with a difficult situation in the future. So it's easy to get caught remembering a run of bad luck, without any memory of the  good that has happened.  Our memories are also not very reliable. They are pliable and our recall can be colored, changed or adjusted as time goes on.  

So I'm determined to fill the jar, because our family has had many wonderful experiences too. They are just not where my memory goes to first, when I think back or look forward.

Eat from #JARSbyDani-then fill with your joyful messages!

Imagine filling your jar all year. Think about dipping into it during
a particularly tough time. And at the end of the year, tipping out the marvelous messages, of hope and joy and accomplishment and happiness. 

Imagine how that can help to balance the memories of difficult, challenging and  sad times that we seem to have no difficulty remembering!

What a way to bring comfort! 

To record positive experiences and remind us that nothing is ALL
bad. People have said kind words. Some days have been wonderful. Friends have been thoughtful.  Strangers  have complimented you. An employee or client said thank you. A boss appreciated your work.  Children have laughed and we have had moments of happiness and kindness and compassion, gratitude and acknowledgement. 

So will you join me by creating your own jar of joy? 

Get ready to begin on January first. Or begin right now. What will you put in the jar today? 

 Leave me a message below and tell me how you are joining in. You can just write " I'm in" " Found a jar!" or "Writing a message to myself right now." 

 Let's inspire each other. 

Take a picture of your jar and let's get ready to record the good times to balance out the memories of the tough ones. You can add photos and mementos as well. Anything that reminds you of the joy in your life. Remember to date each message and keep a pad of paper close by!

I am also going to add to my jar, how wonderful you, my readers are and how you inspire me to continue to write and bring comfort every day. Thank YOU!


You might also be inspired by

My Pantry Exposed: What Clearing The Clutter Does For Your Mind and Spirit

The Secret To Achieving More in 2013 (or 2014)

 Please email me at or leave a comment on this post below. I'd love to have your feedback. 

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  1. I am going to do this. Starting toay. "best friends arriving from Italy" . What a brilliant idea. Thank you Gilly .
    Jo x

    1. You're welcome Jo! Enjoy your visitors- I hope the visit provides you with many more messages to put in the jar.

    2. Hi Gilly!
      I'm in, and I'm going to get all of my boys to contribute to the jar as well.
      Much love, and mazel tov on the upcoming Bar Mitzvah - Julian's is in April!

    3. That's great Lauren -hopefully you'll need a second jar before long! It could be fun for the boys to decorate too. I used permanent markers, but you could stick all kinds of baubles on. Good luck with your BM planning.Thank you so much for commenting.

    4. I'm in! Great idea. Sending much love to the whole Cannon family.


    5. That's great Lisa.Will you send me a picture of your Jar of Joy? Gillyx

  2. I'm in Gilly! And I think I might even find a couple of empty jars to give as gifts lol.
    Love this idea.

    Poor Jacob....this is just so unfair.

    1. Liz, I love the idea of givingJars of Joy to others! You could give them a small pad of paper too to keep with it!
      Jacob thinks it's unfair too, but he's determined to enjoy the next few weeks, so we are taking his lead! Gillyx

  3. Gilly - I'm in! I'm also going to recruit my kids to join me in documenting our joy. Going to find a jar tomorrow and the first piece of paper is for you... the joy your friendship born from social media and across the miles brings me and the impact you have inspiring my family and I to capture our moments of joy instead of letting them fly way.

    Thinking of you.

  4. Alli, I love the idea of families contributing to the jar of joy. It echoes how we want to interact with each other within a family.I have printed your message to add to my jar! One day, I hope we can chat across a table rather than across oceans. Thanks for joining in.

  5. What a wonderful idea, Gilly! Thank you for sharing it with us! It certainly is a way to focus on the good things that happen to us every day, alongside the bad things. We all have the ability to choose, and it's best when we choose the positive. I'm SO GLAD we have crossed paths, as you point out the beauty in life that we might miss if we're not looking. I hope Jacob is much better now and that everyone else is doing fine. Hugs :-)

    1. Thank you Lynn! I think you are a role model for seeing the humor and good in tough situations. I have learned a lot from you through our twitter chats and feel blessed to know you are just an email or tweet away. -Even though we have never met in person We are rooting for each other! I am raising a cuppa to you right now. Gilly

  6. Going to decorate our jar of Joy today thank you for the idea ..I live with TN and need this to remind me of the good in my life ♥

  7. Hi Donna - TN is very tough to live with and joyful moments are so precious. I'm glad you are going to make your own jar. I hope it fills fast. Thank you for visiting Brainstorm and leaving a comment. I hope you'll come again soon. Wishing you a low pain and joyful day!

  8. I think that's a wonderful idea, sort of like a time capsule?

    1. Love that! Yes a jar of Joy Time Capsule. Hope you make one. Many thanks for visiting. Gilly

  9. I think this is such a great idea, Gilly. Really! I have been nothing but blessed. I am also ready to start.

    So sorry to hear of your son's pain, but so glad that he is working with it and getting on with his life (school work and party planning).