New Year is traditionally a time when we look back and reflect on all the things we’ve done and focus on what we can change for the better. And while getting into positive new habits is undoubtedly a wonderful way to transform your life, there is a tendency to focus on what we’ve done wrong, or what we’re not doing at all.
We think about how we must exercise more, eat less sugary or fatty food, be more careful with our money, save more, spend less.
Of course, these are all good things to do, but the focus is very much on the negative, and let’s be honest, it isn’t exactly the best time of year to be thinking negative thoughts. The combination of short daylight hours, miserable weather and post-Christmas blues is well known to increase depression levels in January.
So here is a savings idea which will help, in true Serenity style, to shift your mindset. We’d like to introduce you to the Happy Jar. Rather than having a place to put spare coins or money, this is a jar where you store those brief moments that light up your day. The idea is that you somehow capture some of those really great moments that make you smile, however fleetingly. For example, you scribble a short note when your child comes home from school glowing because they got top scores in a test, or you jot down the memory of spontaneously dancing around the kitchen with your spouse when your wedding song comes on the radio, take a snap of a particularly delicious home cooked meal, or a wonderful evening out with friends — and you put that moment in the Happy Jar. Of course, you don’t have to use a jar, a scrapbook will do just as easily. It serves as a bank of memories to bring back smile when you’re feeling low or scared or lacking confidence.
What’s more, there’s solid science beyond the idea. Neuroscientists have found that the more often we recall a particular memory, the easier it is for us to remember it again and again. We have a natural tendency to remember sad or scary things – it’s natures way of ensuring we don’t do those things again because in the distant past, a sad or scary thought might have meant watching a loved one fall into a dangerous swamp or coming close to a fanged predator. That tendency to remember to bad things isn’t so helpful in today’s world, so having a place to physically store happy memories means we can bring them back and remember them again and again. And each time we do, we generate neurochemicals which boost our mood and improve our physical and mental wellbeing.
By all means have a savings jar or, better still, an account or fund for money, but don’t forget to keep those happy memories safe too. For they will bring you a very special kind of wealth in 2018.