Cultivating Happiness

On the first day of January 2016, I had an idea. Well, actually, Pinterest had an idea. (Pinterest is right up there with chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream and dry shampoo among God’s best ideas EVER.) Anyway. Among latte art and fairy lights in my feed was a jar, filled to the brim with little scraps of paper. It had a cute little label that read: Memory Jar.

And I thought it was a simple, yet amazing, idea! At the time, my mom had taken a happiness dare and was writing a book about it. She had encouraged us kids to cultivate happiness in our own lives, and a memory jar seemed like the perfect way to do just that! So I raided our cupboards in search of a mason jar, cut up a few scraps of paper, grabbed a pen, and sat down at my desk.

Over the months, my little memory jar has filled up more and more with memories from the year.

Saw a sea turtle while snorkeling in Maui. (January 2)

Performed as Mrs. Noah in the Junior High Musical “Go Noah!” (March 31)

Prayed with my jazz band before going on stage for finals at Iowa Jazz Championships. (April 5)

Went snake hunting and caught a snake. (May 29)

The memories are as big as seeing the Statue of Liberty, and as small as learning to play a new song on the piano. But I treasure them all.

At the end of the year, I plan to read the memories from my memory jar, and remember the stage lights warm on my face, the lake water up my nose, the little hand grasped in my own. I will remember the happiness I felt. I will relive the happy times and memories that I made, and see how God had blessed me through the year.

I am a part of my mom’s– Jennifer Dukes Lee’s– launch team for her book, The Happiness Dare. She loved my idea of writing down and remembering happiness and encouraged the launch team to do the same.

I want to encourage you to be on the lookout for happiness every day. I want to challenge you to write down and remember your happiness, whether you journal, make a memory jar, or do something else.

I dare you to cultivate happiness in your daily life.


I have very exciting news! I am going be adding a few more memories to my jar when I travel to Haiti! I am traveling to Haiti with my mom and sister and more awesome people from the organization Vi Bella Jewelry. It will be a great trip, and you can expect some pictures and blog posts after I get home and process my experience. We are leaving tomorrow, and I would really appreciate prayers for a safe and God-centered trip.


13 thoughts on “Cultivating Happiness

  1. Lydia Lee – you are a joy and a blessing….and wise beyond your years. Over 25 years ago, I played under those lights at State Jazz…. You will NEVER forget that. 🙂 Have a safe and amazingly wonderful trip with your Momma and sister. 🙂

  2. What a wonderful explanation of the Memory Jar. I may do this in my journal as I’ve tried slips of paper before and got about two written before I gave up. It might be a good end of the day or beginning of the day exercise. Mine was riding my pony on a lovely warm day that wasn’t too hot and her springing off into a trot. (She runs away with me at the walk when I lose focus, which is also a wonderful gift.) I will remember you all as you travel to Haiti.

    • Journaling is a great way to cultivate happiness. I love reliving my happy times, and I usually write a happy memory or two before bed every night. Thank you, Katie!

      • What a great practice to relive happy times. (I’m one of those who tended to relive the not so happy ones…I came to this practice late.) You’re fortunate to have found it so young. Blessings to you.

  3. Lydia, this is a wonderful post. First, it makes me happy that YOU are happy. Second, it makes me happy that you are writing about it both personally and publicly (and that honestly, from a professional standpoint, your writing gets better w/ every post!), third, because you are living the dare with your beautiful mother and encouraging others to do the same! I like your jar idea. My friend, wonderful author Karen O’Connor, did this too with her blessings (See her book Basket of Blessings: 31 Days to a More Grateful Heart)…but in a basket. And every Thanksgiving, she and her husband would open each slip of paper, onto which they had written a blessing or remembrance, and the tears flowed. Sadly, Charles has passed away, and I know that Karen treasures those remembrances more than ever!) I do this in a joy journal. Whatever works is great. What you are doing reminds me of what what Moses told Aaron to do in Exodus 16:33…33 “So Moses said to Aaron, ‘Take a jar and put an omer of manna in it. Then place it before the Lord to be kept for the generations to come.’” You and Jennifer are keeping your happy-memory manna jars that will influence the Lees to be happy for generations to come! Wow! That’s so great…plus, all of us! Ok…gotta run, but will pray for your trip….for safety and happy memories and strong testimonies about Jesus. Love you so much, honey!

    • Thank you so much for the prayers, Lynn! They really mean a lot. I also really like that blessings basket idea. That would be fun to do someday. I love how you cultivate happiness and relive it in your joy journal! Love and God’s blessings to you, Lynn. xoxo

  4. Wonderful post, dear Lydia. You continue to bring happiness to my life in so many different ways. I know you will be a blessing on your trip to Haiti. Love you!

  5. Hi Lydia. My dear friend Lynn Morrissey told me about you and your amazing heart, as well as your blog and your trip to Haiti. My granddaughter Mairin went on a school mission trip to Haiti last year and it changed her life forever. She was so sad to leave the beautiful children she encountered and served. I commend your writing and your desire to spread the word about keeping a memory jar. I use journaling to hold my memories and in fact, I have kept a ‘Grandma Journal’ for each of my grandchildren from the time they are born till they graduate from high school. I do not write it them every day–sometimes only a few times a year but still they will have this keepsake after I’m gone. It is so important to hold on to the precious times in life. My dad always used to say, “All we have at the end is our memories so make good ones while you can.” I’ve tried to follow his wise advice through the years. God bless you.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s