Why you should start a positivity jar

Make your wellness resolutions count this year with this strategy for mental health.

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Every year I make a wellness resolution to be a more positive person. I put on my confidence hat and get myself geared up for a year of kind, self-efficacious thoughts. But, like with all hats we wear, they can be swapped on and off quite easily — so by March (okay, February), negativity has reared its ugly head again. Thoughts like, “I can’t do that presentation, I’m not a good speaker”, or “I wish I had a better body” and “I can’t believe I wasted a whole day watching TV, I’m such a procrastinator” start to surface more often.

Then of course there’s the negativity that comes from outside myself. No matter how Zen I can get my mind to be, other forces threaten my happy equilibrium — a snarky comment from a colleague, or an overcritical friend can turn my otherwise positive demeanor into a well of negativity.

Self-help gurus say that destructive thoughts are a habit that can be changed with a bit of self-awareness. It’s good advice, but this year I decided to put a spin on that idea and started a positivity jar. How it works: any time a negative or deprecating thought enters my mind, I whisk it away with a non-judgmental, positive one, then I put money into a jar. It really helps to have a physical action that recognizes bad mental habits and reward positive efforts. It goes something like this:

Friend: You should buy the other dress — it’s looser around the mid-section.

Negative me: Is my stomach really that fat?

Positive me: I’ll look great in whichever dress I decide to buy! Well done, me. That positive thought was worth $2 that I’m going to put into my positivity jar.

It’s that simple, and it works. I’m already starting to skip ‘Negative me’ and jump ahead to happy-go-lucky, ‘I’m fabulous’ me. Of course, I know for any lasting change, it will still take considerable effort to stick with it, but I remind myself that mental well-being is well worth it.

In case you’re wondering, I don’t actually carry around a big jar of coins with me. I keep a tally of my donations on my phone (though the thought of tugging around a money jar in my purse is amusing enough for me to consider doing). Then when I’ve reached $50, I’m going to take myself out for a congratulatory meal. So, if you’re struggling with negative thoughts and have a resolution to be kinder to yourself, try countering destructive thoughts with positive ones — and make the extra physical effort of noting your positive changes via a positivity jar.

You’ll be surprised at what a difference it can make.

What tactic do you use to embrace positivity?