Making a "Hope Jar"

Don’t you love a beautiful jar?  Especially one filled with simple but great ideas to affirm you as you renew your resilience after loss?  

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You can make your own “Hope Jar” for yourself or as a gift.  It is filled with slips of paper, each one is a written affirmation or simple self-care idea as personal daily encouragements or invitations to self-care.  They are positive, small steps that help take you a long way toward healing. Each day, you pull one out to inspire you in this transition time.  This is idea is based on the Happiness Jar, created by author Elizabeth Gilbert. 


When we can look forward to and anticipate something good in our Hope Jar, it creates dopamine in our bodies.  Dopamine is a “feel good” hormone that lifts our spirits and improves mood, behavior, sleep and focus. It can be triggered by the anticipation and patience of receiving a reward when you pull your affirmation/self-care idea out of the Hope Jar.  The surprise of which slip you get heightens dopamine by anticipation and adds an element of curiosity and playfulness to difficult days.

It is easy to make one for yourself or as a gift – especially with Christmas coming. Get an attractive wide-mouth storage jar or canning jar with a lid.  Write out one-sentence affirmations on your computer and print them – perhaps on a special or coloured paper.  (You may also hand-write affirmations.) Cut the affirmations into strips and put them in the jar, with the print facing inwards. If you are giving it as a gift, consider rolling them and tying each one with a ribbon, like a scroll.  Tie a bow around the top of the jar and affix a tag that says, “Hope in a Jar. Read one each day (preferably out loud).”  Decorate it with stickers like stars, flowers, or meaningful words – found in the scrapbook section of your hobby store.

One-sentence affirmations are easier to write, to speak out and remember in the course of a day. To get you started, here are some ideas that I like but pick or create ones that comfort you:  

  • I am rediscovering myself in a quiet time that is a regular part of my day. 
  • I keep my loved one close by living her (his) values.
  • Every so often I call “time out” and take a break from grief.
  • Happy memories of my loved one are mine forever and comforting.
  • Instead of pain leading me, more and more I lead the pain.
  • Slowly, surely, I’m a creating a new life for myself.
  • There is a light at the end, and grief will soften.
  • With every breath I take, I’m thankful for the gifts life has given me.
  • Getting better! I can talk about my loved one without crying.
  • Well-meant advice doesn’t always have to be followed.
  • In defense, I’ve prepared answers to the question, “How are you?”
  • Sometimes I just want to be alone and that’s okay.
  • My life is what I choose and what I make of it.
  • Invite a friend for a walk.
  • Take an aromatherapy/bubble bath.
  • Buy a new shade of lipstick.
  • Buy a little treat, specialty cup of tea or coffee (mocha is my favorite).
  • Watch some fun upbeat comedy (YouTube Comedian Jeanne Robertson is a favorite)
  • Recall something you are grateful for – spend a minute in those good feelings again.  
  • E-mail (or call) to say a thank you to someone you appreciate.
  • Cuddle your pet – or a big plush cat, dog, etc. (or buy one).  
  • Take a 10-min power nap today.
  • Plan a swim, hot tub or water aerobics class.
  • Enjoy some good music (for me, Paul Simon’s Diamonds on the Souls of Our Shoes) and move a little with it.
  • Sing your name 3-4 times to vibrate and ground you.
  • Breathe 3-10 deep breaths to get oxygen to muscles.
  • Put some relaxing essential oils nearby (lavender and Ylang Ylang are especially good).
  • Stretch and massage your shoulders and neck.
  • Do some knitting, crafts or colour an adult colouring page.
  • Walk up the stairs or around the yard (or farther) to get blood flowing.
jar of hope .jpg

You can fit 30-60 slips in a jar. Creating this for yourself or as a gift for a bereaved relative or friend helps you in your grief journey, especially since writing the affirmations requires you to frame things in an affirming and positive way.  It also makes you aware of your own progress too. Even when it feels like baby steps, it is still important progress.

This simple idea is a wonderful gift to ourselves or others because we all thrive better in hope!          (Interested in buying one? Contact me at (not exactly as shown)). 

Big hugs and love, 


If you are facing loss, find out the best ways to renew your resilience in a complimentary coaching session with me.  Contact me through my resouces page or e-mail me at

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© Helga`s Coaching Blog  2017. You are welcome to use excerpts and links, provided full and clear credit is given to Helga Bender and Helga's Coaching Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.