More than a Thank You Note: The Power of Gratitude Letters
“Letters of Gratitude: Further Evidence for Author Benefits”- Toepfer, S. M., Cichy, K., Peters, P. Journal of Happiness Studies, published online April 2011. Adapted from The Greater Good.
This study suggests that thanksgiving shouldn’t be reserved for a single holiday: There are strong psychological benefits to expressing thanks to people on a regular basis. Researchers divided 219 adults into two groups. Every week for four weeks, all of the adults reported their levels of gratitude, happiness, life satisfaction, and depressive symptoms. During weeks two, three, and four, half of the participants wrote “gratitude letters” to someone else, expressing appreciation for that person; the other half didn’t write letters. The letters were mailed after the study ended.
Over the four weeks, the results show that happiness and life satisfaction increased significantly, and symptoms of depression decreased significantly, for the writing group but didn’t change for the other group. Levels of gratitude stayed the same for both groups. The authors suggest that gratitude may just be a fixed quality, but the action of writing with gratitude generates overall positive feelings that increase happiness and life satisfaction and reduce one’s chances of developing depression. —Alice Hua
Write a gratitude letter to someone right now! Or for more information on happiness studies: Click Here
From Simple Abundance- Sarah Ban Breathnach- Tools to help you find your passion– Be grateful for what you have now and you get more. Exercise to feel more grateful. Think about 5 ways you have felt love- do this each day- things like someone being nice to you, think of people who made you laugh and more. Accepting compliments is very important. As you do this, a shift in thinking can happen and you become open enough to let it all in- then you are open to good things happening. From “Simple Abundance.”
From e-how.com– Self-esteem building activities for adults
1. Say nice things to yourself
2. Recognize the “Best” you.
3. Create a dream book
4. Make a “grateful” list.
5. Create positive affirmations
6. Exercise to release endorphins
7. Overcome a personal fear
Here are six creative ways to help develop an attitude of gratitude: paraphrased: powertochange.com
1. Family thanksgiving journal. Use a notebook or blank journal to record what your family is thankful for. Add to it all year round during family devotions, or create an annual tradition where each family member contributes one message a year.
2. Name exchange. This is an idea for a dinner party or holiday gathering. Toss everyone’s name in a hat, then have each person draw one name. Allow some time for thought, then have everyone take a turn finishing this sentence, “I’m thankful for _[name drawn]__ because ________.”
3. Table accents. Create easy, yet meaningful favors or place cards for guests at your holiday dinner.
4. Use a paint pen to write “Thank you, God, for family and friends,” on pressed leaves. Place one on each plate.
Bundle a few wrapped chocolates or unshelled nuts in little squares of netting. Tie them with fall-colored ribbon and add a great quote.
5. Thankful notes. Writing requires us to slow down, reflect, and choose our words carefully.
Thoughtfully telling people what they mean to you will build up their spirit.
- If you have a spouse, write a letter detailing why you’re thankful for them. Find a nice quiet time to read it aloud to them.
- If you have children, write a letter to each of them, separately. (Write even if they are young. They’ll treasure it some day.) If you have teens, perhaps leave the letters in their rooms to be “discovered” and read alone. Identify their strengths and encourage them with appreciative comments on those positive characteristics.
6. Thankful box. Purchase a small decorative box or wrap a shoebox with great paper. Put a notepad and pen inside and set it on your dresser. Everytime you’re angry with a person or situation in your life, write a note before you go to bed that night, expressing why you’re thankful for that person or difficulty. Use these slips during future quiet times to randomly select someone or something and send good thoughts their way.