This isn’t my idea — I saw it on Pinterest. In 2015, I tried to write down something that happened that made me happy every day, along with the date, and put it in a jar. On New Year’s Eve, Mr. Donovan and I read through them all.

I didn’t actually do it every day. I wrote down maybe 50 things, total. Reading through them was still amazing.

Here are two things I didn’t expect:

1. Getting reminded of things I enjoy and could do again. 

For instance, one day I had written down, “Doing the exercise bike in the morning while watching Friends.” I remember that when I wrote this down in February 2015, I thought it was about the weakest and most boring thing in the world.

When I read it on the last day of December in 2015, I said, “Oh my gosh, there were a few weeks when I did that in the morning before work, and it would put me in the best mood!” (Guess who’s been doing it again?)

2. Experiencing time travel.

This was surreal. For one day, I had written down something about having dinner with Mr. Donovan at a particular restaurant and telling him about a particular book I loved. No big deal, right? The kind of thing you would never recall afterward, unless you wrote it down.

When I read that little slip of paper at the end of the year, I was suddenly transported to that exact time. I remembered what I ordered, and how the sunshine came into the windows of the restaurant. I remembered everything. It was amazing!

Mr. Donovan insisted on keeping all the little notes. Trying out the happiness jar in 2015 convinced me to be more faithful about it in 2016. I think I’ll probably read over the first half of them on the summer solstice, because it’s too fun to do only once a year.

Here are two things I learned about how to do it better!

1. Don’t write down something because you think you should like it.

Your future self will see right through your bullshit. If literally the thing that made you happiest that day was listening to a ridiculous pop song in the car, write down that, not the yoga class you went to but didn’t really enjoy.

2. Don’t write down plans for things.

Plans can change. For instance, I was very excited about a tattoo consultation, but later, after more thought and discussion, I decided not to get a tattoo after all. So reading that one at the end of the year was kind of a womp womp moment, even though I wasn’t sorry.

Of course, you can’t avoid some things that in retrospect, will seem bittersweet, and that’s okay!


If you’re interested, it’s definitely not too late to start a jar for 2016. By the end of the year, you’ll still have a wealth of great stuff to look back on! It’s actually never too late — you can start and read at any time.

I’m wishing you lots of jar-worthy moments, whether you have a jar or not. Thanks for reading!