Feeling and expressing gratitude is a wonderful way to heighten our mood and improve our health. When we shift our mindset to gratitude it reduces our stress and ups our immunity. Our bodies literally become stronger when we focus on what we have, as opposed to what we don’t.
Did you know that gratitude is also a powerful way to strengthen relationships? Here is an exercise that will help you express gratitude in a thoughtful way.
Think of someone from the past who has done something for which you were extremely grateful but you never expressed that gratitude. Have this be a person who is still alive and you could likely get into contact with.
Write a letter to them. Start “Dear….” Describe in specific terms what they did, how they acted, and how their behavior affected your life. Be as specific as possible. Describe what you are up to in your life and how you often think about them and what they did for you. Keep the letter to about a page. No need to drone on and on. Be clear, specific and direct.
Next reach out to this person. Normally I would suggest meeting with them in person. Right now see if you can schedule a video call. Or if not, at least a phone call. Don’t let them know the exact nature of the meeting.
When you connect, read the letter to this person. Ask them to refrain from interrupting until you’re done. Sometimes people become uncomfortable when you are complementing them or expressing gratitude. Once you’re done feel free to share your feelings together. After you’re done, mail or email the letter to this person so that they have it.
2 Replies to “Gratitude – A Science-Backed Exercise to Add More Joy To Your Life”
Immediately, I thought of someone who I wronged, hurt badly. I’m not able to do the second part with them, because they’re married, and it wouldn’t be appropriate or go over well. I also doubt he’d even agree to meet me anyway. So, because I want to do the exercise, how do I go about thinking of someone else that I’d even be able to complete the entire thing with? For example, the next person I thought of, we both were pretty horrible. At the same time, I don’t dare even initiate contact again, because after a couple of years of no contact on my part, he FINALLY stopped trying everything possible to get a hold of me/annoy me/harass me, etc. The next person is incarcerated. I’m just not having any luck, & I wonder if it’s because of something that I’m doing incorrectly to come up with ‘candidates’? Even my Mom would be a ‘candidate’, but we’ve been no contact for a couple of years because it’s too toxic. Thank you…
Hey Lesli. Thanks for your comment. They examples you describe sound like unsafe people. I wouldn’t do this exercise with an unsafe person. I would do it with someone you already feel good about, trust and appreciate to increase your level of appreciation and express that to them. Definitely don’t open yourself up to the types of people you mentioned. That could be really harmful for you. Wishing you the best. – Rose