Create your own fortune cookie jar

“Your best idea will come to you in the shower this week.

Act on it.”

Chinese fortune cookie

Fortune cookies are crisp, sugary biscuits - usually made

from flour, sugar, vanilla, and sesame seed oil, and often

served as a dessert in Chinese restaurants, but are not a

tradition in China.


Inside the cookie is a piece of paper containing a vague

prophecy or aphorism -  a statement of truth or opinion

expressed in a concise and witty manner. This is said to be

your fortune.


And what has this to do with health?


Sometimes, especially if we are suffering from a form of

mental ill-health eg depression, sleep disorders, anger,

anxiety, stress and so on we can find it difficult to make

decisions, especially decisions about what to do in a given moment.


Some children have the same problem. Ask them, “What shall we do today?” and you might get a shrug of the shoulders and the answer, “Dunno!”


Some days when I was at my lowest, I could find it really difficult to be creative or even have the energy to think. I would know the way out of my low mood would be to be active, to do something, to change my emotional and energetic state but when it came to it, to generating options from which to choose, now that was one step too difficult. My mind went blank and it was easier to slump, give up, and do nothing.


So for those moments when you need to have some get up and go and it can be too easy to succumb to a low mood, tonot being able to or can’t be bothered to come up with ideas, have your fortune cookie jar at the ready.


What is it?


It is simply a jar which holds pre-prepared pieces of paper, each with an individual idea you could do in those moments when you find it hard to think of anything or even muster the energy to think.


What you’ll need


  • One jar (or tin or box)

  • Ultimately, 20 pieces of paper each headed –       I am looking forward to

  • Coloured pens


What to do – to prepare the pieces of paper


  1. On good days, when you have some energy and motivation, and feeling as good as you know how, place your pieces of paper in front of you.

  2. On each piece, write down something you could do, or would like to do that would appeal to you, give you a lift, or bring you joy etc

  3. Write something that can be done that would take about one hour, could be done near home with the minimum of fuss and effort

  4. Write one idea per one piece of paper

  5. Fold

  6. Place in your jar


(If you only manage two ideas, that’s fine. You can add to your jar on future days when you are feeling better.)


Some suggested ideas 


Outdoorsy things


  • Visit (name a specific local tourist venue within easy reach)

  • Walk at (name location) and look skywards whilst walking

  • Go to (name the cinema)

  • Visit the local library

  • Go to (name a preferred café) and treat myself

  • Take yourself off to the nearest sauna

  • Go swimming

  • Spend some time pottering in your garden, attending to your window box

  • Call a friend and find a best time to visit / go for coffee / for a walk

  • Go outdoors and sketch or paint a landscape

  • Go swimming - particularly effective at reducing panic and sadness because of the combination of strokes, breathing, and repetitiveness. It’s a whole-body, moving meditation.


Indoorsy things


  • Spend 20 minutes in front of your SAD sunlamp

  • Raid the fridge of unused vegetables, make and freeze soup

  • Choose a wardrobe or drawer and give it a spring clean

  • Catch up on three admin tasks

  • List accomplishments of past three days even if it is things like - ate a full breakfast, took a shower, picked up the kids from school, called my sister, got groceries, wrote my husband a loving email, read a chapter of a book.

  • Lay aside unwanted clothes to take to the charity shop

  • Catch up on reading a non-demanding book that brings joy

  • Take some time to listen to (list your favourite music)

  • Watch (name a video) on Youtube or your own private copy

  • Create a shopping list for your next supermarket shop

  • Record your joys, complete your gratitude diary

  • Find a movie or comedy show to watch which you know will make you laugh (name it)

  • Light some incense or switch on an essential oils diffuser and meditate

  • Create and drink a power smoothie made of kale, chard, spinach, mixed with pineapple or strawberries

  • Spend time talking with God



How to use


  1. On days when you feel down but you know you could benefit by getting out and about but you have no inclination or energy to decide what, go to your jar.

  2. Pull out one piece of paper.

  3. Promise yourself you will be committed to doing what is on the piece of paper.

  4. Stand up, stand tall, read out with feeling what is on your piece of paper.

  5. Get washed, changed, dressed – and go to it. Do what is on the piece of paper.


Tiny Buddha


My ideas