**This is a guest post written by Allison Hritz. Allison Hritz is a senior secondary social studies education major at Point Park University in Pittsburgh, PA. She is also a member of the Smile Project Ambassador Program.**
Every New Year’s Eve, I always find myself desiring to do something profound. Something that would honor the year behind me, help me to reflect on both joy and sorrow, and something that would usher in the new year.
Yet, year after year, I fall short. I feel so tired, too busy, and drained to even think about doing something along these lines.
When December 2020 hit, something changed. As we all know, it was a year of social and emotional exhaustion. It was a year that imbued sorrow to every person on this earth. But if there was anything that 2020 taught me, it was that in order to keep going, we need to search for little joys and need to be active with our words.
It was coincidental that I also started my time as a Smile Project Ambassador in 2020. By the end of December, I had been recording a “Happiness is…” for more than 50 days. So when I reached this time, I thought of ways I could incorporate Happiness is into my New Years’ resolutions.
While I was pondering, a friend reached out to me. Over the year, she made a post-it note of every good thing that happened. She sent me a picture of one pertaining to a time we went and got pancakes during 2020. It brought me such joy to know I was a good part of her year and to know that she had been proactive about remembering joy in her year.
Then it hit me, why can’t I do something similar? So, I decided to paint a little jar and keep it on my desk. On the jar is written “Joy Jar.”
Every day, I jot down my “Happiness is…” on a scrap of paper with the day it was written. So, at the end of the year, I can read 365 great things about the year.
But the importance or profound impact of this idea is not something that must be put off until December. The jar is a daily reminder, right in front of me as I work, that there is always joy, you just have to look for it. And on days when I am feeling down and discouraged, I can look in this jar and find something good. The idea of joy always being before me pushes me to pursue each day with a posture of goodness.
I know that at the end of this year, as I look at everything I have written, I will be blessed by the memories and fellowship I have enjoyed in 2021. And I know that this is a habit and tradition that I will carry forth in years to come.