A pale, purple-colored vase that sits year-round on Kesha Carter’s kitchen counter is the centerpiece of her family’s annual New Year’s resolution.
Carter and her family—her husband and two children, ages 10 and 20—resolve each year to celebrate the positive things in their lives.
That vase is known as the family’s “Blessings Jar.” For the third straight year, the family resolved to drop notes into the jar whenever something happened that made them happy.
They’ll spend 2017 dropping tiny slips of paper into the Blessings Jar, and on New Year’s Day 2018, they’ll have a family brunch or dinner and take turns reading the blessings.
“It’s a great opportunity to reflect on what made us feel good and how we can build upon that for the upcoming year,” Carter said.
Blessings from 2016
On New Year’s Day 2017, for example, the family had 20 notes—or 20 positive memories—to celebrate from the previous year.
Her 10-year-old son recounted the tough tests he had “rocked” over the last year. He was sick for a few of the tests—and/or missed the pre-test reviews—and had to do a lot of studying on his own to catch up. He was proud to have earned scores of 92 and 106 on those exams.
Carter, meanwhile, celebrated a yearlong quest to eat healthier by consuming more “real” foods or items that aren’t heavily processed, such as fruits and vegetables.
She also worked hard throughout the year to be less cranky in the mornings.
“I really thought I had succeeded in yelling a lot less in the mornings, and I felt good when my family completely agreed!” she said.
A more positive New Year
Carter and her friends first discussed the idea of a Blessings Jar as a way for their families to celebrate the little things in life that make them happy.
This is an approach to the New Year that focuses on the positive, and not the negative. You don’t have to start the year by focusing on the fact that you “need to” lose weight, save money, stop smoking, etc.
“Instead of starting the New Year with what’s ‘wrong’ with you, what if you started with what you do well?” said Eileen Wolff, workplace wellness consultant, Excellus BlueCross BlueShield.
Consider what makes you happy. What do you enjoy doing? What motivates you? In the upcoming year, why not do more of the things you already do that make you feel happy and healthy?
Do you like to read? Why not listen to an audiobook or podcast while on the treadmill? Is it hard to work out because you’re a parent with an active family? Consider doing active things with your family, like taking a martial arts class together or snowshoeing through a local park.
Blessings Jar 101
For Carter, her positive New Year starts with the Blessings Jar. If you’d like to create your own, here are some tips:
- Avoid jars that are transparent, including those that are made of clear glass or plastic. You don’t want people to read what’s on the slips of paper before the year is up.
- Set no rules. People can submit notes on whatever made them happy or proud that year.
- Allow participants to submit any big or small accomplishments.
“My husband, at first, only submitted one blessing a year, because he didn’t think he had accomplishments that were important enough to be recognized,” Carter said. “But this past year, he submitted three or four recognitions. He learned that anything that he personally wanted to celebrate was important enough for the jar.”
- Don’t keep tabs on how many blessings each person submits to the jar. There’s no pressure to submit a lot or a few recognitions.
- Take note of what makes others happy. If your child was proud that he did his chores that year without being asked, take note and praise him throughout the year for doing just that.
“I learned what matters to my family,” Carter said,” and now I can take notice of that throughout the year.”