Do you keep a “jar of awesome?” Neuroscience and positive psychology suggests you should…

You may have come across a post on Instagram which is a jar of folded up post-it notes. The gist of the caption is that once a week you write something great on a note, pop it in the jar, and then at the end of the year you read all the awesome things that have happened. Now the meme doesn’t specifically call it a “jar of awesome” but it’s a version of theme that we like to call “jar of awesome” at Next Evolution Performance so let’s run with that.

And there are plenty of ways you can do this, you can actually keep a physical jar and use pieces of paper. Perhaps even a cool notebook beside the bed so that you can write it down just before you go to bed. Old School can be fun. Or if you are like me and a total minimalist where less is more on the clutter front, then you can use some technology to help you. You can use notes on your phone or ipad or of course there are apps for that these days.

Some people may call this a gratitude journal – and focus on what are you grateful for. If you are looking to build up your self-esteem a little more, focus on things that you have done really well. Your jar of awesome will become a lovely bank of evidence of your awesomeness. That way you can start to rely a little more on your own internal drive and a little less on needing others to tell you how amazing you are.

You could also write down things which may seem really dumb but they are still awesome things to happen …… celebrating even small things has a great impact on your brain. Things like getting a great car park, or having the bus or train arrive just at the exact time you arrived at the bus stop or train station.

So that may sound like a totally fun thing to do for yourself, or even as a family or with your friends. So if it does, go forth and do it. No need to read any further. But for those of you who need a little more science to motivate you to do something, it all comes down to a lovely intersection of positive psychology and some neuroscience to help us to rewire our brains with neural pathways that serve our goals.

Basically your brain is like a muscle and it’s wired to protect you rather than do amazing things. So often our negativity muscle – which is wired to look out for the worst that can happen – gets a little overactive. And neuroscience suggests that genetics play a role in this as well. While it’s useful to keep us alive, often it overreacts and stops us from doing great stuff. So it’s best to build up our positivity muscle a little more to help us to focus on the what’s the best that can happen in a situation. And positive psychology suggests that we can’t tell the difference between a small good thing and big good thing that happens so we may as well treat everything like it’s a big good thing and get better results!

So your jar of awesome – in whatever form you want to keep it, is a great way to build better neural pathways as part of building stronger mental fitness. If you think your neural pathways could do with some more mental fitness we’d love to chat with you further about this. As always – the door is open for a no obligation chat.


If you’d like to find out more, join the conversation in our next open workshop.