For my money, there is nothing better than taking trash and turning it into treasure. I recently worked on a project that fit the bill and gave me a happiness boost for a lot of different reasons.
In Krista Tippett’s interview with Elizabeth Gilbert for On Being, Gilbert talks about her happiness jar. She notes that it is a huge apothecary jar that is filled with bits of paper, on which she’s written the happiest part of each day. I love this easy form of journaling and quickly made space in my blog planner to record the happiest part of my day. But I knew I also wanted a happiness jar, as well.
I didn’t necessarily want to buy something to serve as a happiness jar. I’m not really into shopping for a new item when it isn’t necessary. I don’t have the time or energy to poke through antique malls, flea markets, garage sales or thrift stores to find something. And I knew I probably had dozens of things in my house that could serve the purpose. But I also wanted it to be special.
I immediately thought of something Gretchen Rubin wrote about in The Happiness Project, which is the question “What did you do for fun when you were 10?” Her theory is that if you enjoyed something as a child, you will probably still like doing it as an adult. One thing I did for fun as a kid (although I was probably older than 10), was to decoupage. My version of decoupage at the time was to cut pictures out of magazines, rubber cement them to a little box and cover the whole thing with packing tape to seal it. We didn’t have any decoupage glue in the house and I’m not certain I knew there was such a thing as decoupage glue, so I improvised. I made a couple of different little keepsake boxes: one was a bracelet-sized box covered in flowers and the other was a greeting card box covered a mish-mash of colorful photos of textural things (beads, sequins, etc.). The memory of making those boxes immediately solved my problem of what to use as my happiness jar.
I took a melange of trash, really, a spaghetti sauce jar, old magazines my mom gave me, and actual Mod Podge leftover from a project I did several years ago (no rubber cement and packing tape for adult me), and gave them new life in my happiness jar. I even had the paint sponge leftover. No purchases went into the making of this project. No trips to the craft store necessary.
Another suggestion from Gretchen Rubin’s Happier podcast came into play when it was time to figure out what I was going to cover the jar with. In episode 71 of Happier, Rubin and her sister discuss choosing a signature color as a way to boost happiness. It was easy for me to identify my signature color: turquoise. But I started to notice that I don’t have much of this color around me in my everyday life. So a turquoise decoupage happiness jar was what I set out to create.
This project is so simple I don’t need to share step-by-step instructions. It’s just cut, paste, and repeat until you’re happy with the final result.
In a happy twist of kismet, while I was working on this project, my husband and step-daughter went to a comic-con and came home with the Deathly Hallows image complete with the turquoise background (I’ve not shared with either of them that turquoise is my “signature” color.) and three blind box Harry Potter figures. (We got Draco, Harry and Voldemort. They let me keep Harry on my desk even though I opened Draco. I put Draco and Voldemort in our family Harry Potter “shrine.”) The new gifts go quite well with my happiness jar, and my Lego keychain Dumbledore and Snape.