Do you know what a happiness jar is?
It’s a jar where you write down “happy moments” in your life–simple events that made you smile, funny things that made you laugh so hard you almost peed your pants, and moments that cause you to feel thankful. My positive, forward-thinking friend gave me a happiness jar on New Years’ Day of Jan. 2014. Throughout the year, I began to record my happy moments on little pieces of paper and put them into my pretty jar. Every once in awhile, just glancing at the jar was enough to make me happy, because I was seeing it fill up with all the life events that had brought me joy. It was a reminder that life is good.
However, I was bound to hit a rough patch, right? I hit one of these so called rough patches last fall. For one thing, I got really sick. For another thing, I had parent/teacher conferences at school all day and all night and was really stressed while fighting this illness. And to top off my stress, things fell apart with a guy I had been seeing, and I was just pissed off at life.
I sat in an old rocker in my sunroom as we had the “break-up conversation” over the phone. As we were talking, I began to realize I was rocking harder and harder to the point where I was going to knock that freaking chair right on the freaking ground if I didn’t stop. We said our good-byes, and as I was hanging up the phone, I glanced at my happiness jar, sitting on the bookshelf in my sunroom.
“*#$% that stupid *@%#+!!!!” 😡 was pretty much what I screamed at the jar.
Now here’s the thing: I don’t get angry very often, so I kind of just “went with it.” I hopped right on to that anger train and went for a wild ride. I grabbed that freaking happiness jar, ran out my front door into the street, and pummeled it into the road, as if it were a bowling ball. It wouldn’t smash at first, which made me even angrier. It was as if those damn pieces of paper with happy thoughts written on them were screaming, “No! No! Don’t do this! You ARE a happy girl! Don’t break us!”
But I just couldn’t stop smashing the jar into the street until it finally broke into a million pieces.
I shouted expletives as it shattered.
“I hate this! I #%**€ hate life! All of it! I just hate everything!” I screamed.
At that moment, I felt a light shining on my back from above. I turned and looked up, and stared right into my neighbors’ faces. They had heard the glass smashing and me screaming curse words and had ran to the window facing the street. The window was wide open and their gazes were upon me.
“Ummmm… hi,” I mumbled, and ran into my house.
I called my best friend.
“And to top it all off,” I blubbered through angry tears, “now my neighbors think I’m a psycho! A wacko woman who breaks crap in the street—Wait! Oh my gosh… You don’t think they can call the police on me, can they? Is that illegal to break a jar in the street? Oh my God, what if they call the police on me for disturbing the peace or littering or some other crime I unknowingly committed when I broke this jar in the street and was screaming about how I hate my life??!!”
Oh dear God.
My angry streak turned into a worry streak momentarily, as I started googling “is breaking a jar in the street illegal?” (Turns out it is, actually, as you are disturbing the peace.)
The worrying was only temporary, though, as anger was my dominant emotion. I remember telling my friend, “If the police are coming for me for jar breaking, well then gosh darnit, let ’em come!! Because I hate my stupid life anyways!!! Bring it on!!!”
I felt this way off and on for a couple weeks.
There were a few times during this two week period where I tried to medicate my anger by doing things I thought would help me to forget about how much I hated life in that moment, like going shopping with friends, getting out of the house constantly, or even calling up an ex boyfriend to look for reassurance.
Turns out, those things didn’t work.
They only made me feel shi##ier, and it put some of my friends in an uncomfortable position. I kept wanting them to say specific things to make me feel better, even though there really was nothing that could make me feel better.
I remembered that the only way through anger and sadness is to just feel it. Wallow in it a bit. Break crap if you need to. I still have to remind myself that people and things can’t medicate me. The only way to get out of a disastrous funk is to walk right through the fire, while stepping haphazardly on the coals without giving a crap.
It will burn, but it always gets better. Happiness is an inside job that only I can do.
And here is a recipe that makes me happy, in honor of national pi day:
From the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook. Yes, I know it has shortening and shortening is a processed food.