A common technique of both parents and teachers to encourage desirable behaviour is the marble jar, or similar variations. The idea, which comes from the positive parenting philosophy, is to reward a child for positive things, rather than focusing on the negative. It is especially effective if used not just on special occasions but to highlight behaviour which so often goes unnoticed, for example giving a marble for sitting colouring, rather than ignoring things until a child does something “extra special” or which we don’t wish to encourage, which is traditionally how behaviour has been punished or rewarded.
The use of positive attends, highlighting the positive, rather than focusing on the negative, is one which I think can be transferred into our own self-care and nurturing routines. Very often we miss the positives in our lives, because they are either too routine, or overpowered by the negatives. I feel it is important here to point out this is not about “Looking on the bright side” or the power of positive thinking, both of which can be incredibly dismissive of the genuine oppressions and struggles people face from day-to-day. However instead this is about finding the bright spots, what I described as grace notes, no matter how small they can be.
It can be really helpful to have a record of these moments, a marble in the jar as it were. Some ideas for keeping these records could be;
- Photographs, something as simple as a flower, sunlight on windows or a an architectural feature that catches your eye. Using a platform like Instagram is great for keeping these pictures
- A bullet journal is something many people have found useful. Pinterest is a great place to find different examples
- Index cards. It might sound old-fashioned, but taking 5 minutes each day to write one thing you found positive, in a quick and easily accessible way
- Post-(ts. It might sound low tech, but it is a simple way to always have something to hand to record those positive moments.
Once you have decided the way that you are going to record your positive attends the next step is to decide when, and how, you look over them. The marble jar used by parents or teachers usually has a set time when the marbles are counted, and a reward given. Whether you decide to look over what you have recorded weekly or monthly, it can be incredibly nurturing to spend time doing so. Try not to think about those toxic shoulds while you do this, it is not about what other people think might be positive, or how many things you have made a record of, but having one single moment which says, there is beauty, love, and joy in the world.