The Marble Jar: Put Good In, Get Good Out.

I often blog about Brené Brown, a researcher who is known most for her TED talks on vulnerability and shame (watch if you haven't). Beyond the fact that she is a fellow social worker, her words have truly inspired me and have changed the way I live and think on a daily basis.


In her book Daring Greatly, Brené discusses a situation where a Marble Jar was used as a metaphor for how one develops trust through relationships with others. Most of my teacher friends or anyone who has experience working behaviorally with children have probably used concepts that are similar to the Marble Jar. For example, picture a 1st grade classroom. When the class as a whole, or even just a few members of the class, act with kindness and respect to themselves and one another, marbles get added to a large, clear jar. When the class struggles to be kind and teasing occurs, marbles get taken out of the jar. When the jar is full, the class gets a reward (think: pizza party). This is an ongoing visual representation for young children to begin to learn that acting with kindness and doing good things for others benefits everybody. The Marble Jar is a lighthearted way to reinforce the idea that when you put good in, you get good out.

As adults, we still have marble jars - daily interactions with ourselves and others either add or retract marbles from our hypothetical jars. As a reward, with vulnerability and courage, we have the opportunity to be blessed with whole hearted relationships, trust in ourselves, and a positive worldview (OK...and maybe an occasional pizza party). Reality is that we all have those few relationships that exhaust us (think: those who love excess gossip, don't respect your privacy, the friend with no boundaries, etc). The emotions that come along with this experience can serve as a lovely reminder to stay balanced within ourselves so that we can continue to contribute kindness and feel light, no matter the crowd or negativity. 

Of course, the average person naturally aims to spend most of our social time with people who add marbles to the jar with little to no effort. The relationships in our lives that are built on a mutual exchange of trust, kindness, laughter. The relationships that allow us to accept ourselves with our whole heart, feeling genuine confidence in our efforts regardless of outcome. The relationships that fill our hypothetical marble jars also fill our spirits and souls. 

We can choose to behave and portray ourselves in a way that contributes to others well-being and happiness. What can you do today to establish trust in yourself and others?

What does it take to motivate us to practice kindness with ourselves and others? 

What are your thoughts on the Marble Jar concept? Practice vulnerability and courage by sharing your comments below!