Writing a Gratitude Letter

There have been many scientific studies on the benefits of leading a grateful life. Some of the benefits include: increased feelings of energy, alertness and enthusiasm, better coping with stress, greater sense of purpose, and improved cardiac health. Gratitude journals have been popular since the 1990’s. I have kept one for many years. But, how about writing a gratitude letter to someone?

“Our minds are Velcro for negative information but Teflon for positive.”
-Rick Hanson, neuroscientist

That is a very profound statement. The good news is that we can increase our positive thoughts and train our sub-conscious mind to become more positive. Why not try to reverse that statement and make our minds Velcro for positive thoughts? It requires some discipline on your part, but, it can be done.

If you are already writing in your gratitude journal, let’s take it up a notch and write a gratitude letter to someone this week. Abraham Maslow, a humanistic psychologist, believed in the importance of gratitude. He believed it was imperative to count your blessings and offered the following practice for this.

One method is to imagine that someone you care about might die-or will die-soon. Think as vividly as you can how would you feel, what you would truly lose, an about how you would be sorry. Would you have any regret or remorse? How would you conduct an effective goodbye to avoid later feeling a send of gnawing incompleteness? And, how would you best preserve your fullest memory of this person?”

This may seem depressing, but, give it a try. It may help you focus on whom you would like to write your gratitude letter. Dig deep. Is it someone from your childhood? Or someone that helped you get your first job? Or maybe a parent or other close relative?

This week “count your blessings” by writing a gratitude letter. If possible, deliver it in person. This is a very powerful exercise. Let’s go for the Velcro!

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