June 12, 2022 • 5 Minute Read

Gratitude Jar or Gratitude Journal?

Thinking of starting a gratitude journal? Consider starting a gratitude jar instead. It has all the benefits of a gratitude journal plus so much more.


It’s been well documented that expressing gratitude on a daily basis can be life changing. Studies have show that journaling for just 5 minutes a day can increase our long-term happiness by as much as 10%. While keeping a gratitude journal is a wonderful (and very popular) way to express gratitude on a daily basis, it’s not the only way. A fun alternative is the gratitude jar.

A gratitude jar, also known as a happiness jar, is a fun way to exercise gratitude in a visual way. You can create a gratitude jar for yourself, or create one to be used amongst family, friends, or even co-workers.

Bur first, what’s a Gratitude Jar?

A gratitude jar is simply a collection of notes or physical items, collected over time, expressing what you’re grateful for on a given day.

The practice is simple. Every day, perhaps before you go to bed or at dinner time, think of one happy thing that happened during the day. Write it down a piece of paper and drop it in the jar. It’s that simple. It doesn’t have to be a note either. It could be anything you want (as long as it fits in the jar). Maybe it’s something you found that day. Maybe it’s a ticket stub to an event you attended. Maybe it’s a note of appreciation from someone else. It can be whatever you want.


Gratitude jars, also known as happiness jars, were made popular by the Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love. In a blog post she described her own practice of keeping a ‘happiness jar.’

It’s YOUR happiness; you may do absolutely whatever you like with it. Put whatever you like in there — whatever brings you peace or joy. And when your jar fills up (which I dearly hope it shall) just make another one. Read them if you like; leave them quietly folded if you prefer. And you can make it out of an old tissue box if you want! The vessel is not the magic part; the vessel is just the vessel. What’s inside is simply — very simply — the best part of your life on earth. – Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love

What’s your ‘Grace of the Day’?

My family practices something similar every night at dinner. Before anyone can get up to leave, we go around the table and each person shares their ‘grace of the day.’ In our family, a ‘grace of the day’ is any moment from the day they’re grateful for. Yesterday my son’s ‘grace of the day’ was that there were only 4 days left of school this year. Mine was that I finally blew up my paddle board and took it out on the ocean after talking about it for a year. My husband had a rough day. He’d been looking forward to attending a rally race for months and ended up missing it due to problems with his car. His ‘grace of the day’ was that the sun out that day after a week of fog. One thing we’ve learned over years of doing this exercise, no matter how uneventful or how bad the day is, there’s always something you can find to be grateful for.

Gratitude Jar vs. Gratitude Journal

While both gratitude jars and gratitude journals help build a daily gratitude practice that enhance our lives with positivity, there are many advantages gratitude jars have over gratitude journals.

Benefits of a gratitude jar:

A gratitude jar can be a shared activity.

A gratitude jar works well for both individuals as well as a groups. Create one for yourself and keep it in a private place, like on your desk or in your bedroom. Create one for your family and have all family members and visiting friends contribute. Create one for your workplace and encourage all co-workers and even clients or customers to add to it.

A gratitude jar can hold more than writing.

With a gratitude jar, in addition to written notes, you can also add physical objects. You can add a photo, a ticket stub, or even a sea shell to your gratitude jar. The only limitation is that is must fit in the jar. A gratitude journal is limited to what you can add to the page.

A gratitude jar is visual reminder of all you have to be grateful for.

Seeing a jar filled with notes of gratitude and other items is a physical reminder of all you have to be grateful for. Put your jar is located in a prominent place and be reminded of that every day.

Not sure whether do a gratitude jar or a gratitude journal? Do both! The more you exercises gratitude, the more you will benefit from it.

How to Create a Gratitude Jar in 3 Steps

Ready to get started? Creating your own gratitude jar is simple.

Step 1: Find a container

This can be a jar, box, vase, basket, anything that will inspire you. You can also use an app to create a gratitude jar.

Step 2: Decorate it and label as your gratitude or happiness jar.

Decorate the container in a way that inspires you and label it as your gratitude or happiness jar. This jar serves as a visual reminder of all you have to be grateful for.

Step 3: Put in a prominent place.

Place the container in a location where you can see it often and add to it easily. If the gratitude jar is just for your, perhaps place it on your bedside table. If it’s a shared jar, you might place it in a common area like the kitchen counter or near where you eat dinner.

Step 4: Choose one thing you’re grateful for each day and add it to the jar.

Add a small handwritten note,  photo, anything that captures that happy moment of the day. Do this every day. It may be helpful to have a stack of notepaper and a pen nearby. If helpful, add the current date to everything you add to the jar.

Step 5: (Bonus) Randomly pick one item from the jar and read it.

Having a rough day? Reach your had in the jar, pick something at random, and be reminded of a happy moment. Do this once in a while or do this every day. This is your happiness jar. Do what makes you happy!

Start Now.

All the ideas I’ve mentioned above are ideas to get you started.

Find what works for your and brings you the most joy. It could be a gratitude or happiness jar exactly as I described it above. It could be a gratitude jar in an app on your phone that you carry with you everywhere. It could be a collection of photos is a shoe box.

As Elizabeth Gilbert says, it’s YOUR happiness. Do what works best for you. What’s most important is that you start.

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Thinking of Starting A Gratitude Journal? Try A Gratitude Jar Instead.

While keeping a gratitude journal is a wonderful way to express gratitude on a daily basis, it’s not the only way. A fun alternative is the gratitude jar.