Appreciate all that is wonderful in November. This month, consider writing a Gratitude Letter and deliver it in person. It’s a win-win! While this is a great gift to others, research shows that the writer gains even more.
Why you should try it
Expressing gratitude can improve your health and happiness. This exercise encourages you to express gratitude in a thoughtful, deliberate way by writing a letter of gratitude to a person you have never properly thanked.
Try It Now
Call to mind someone who did something for you for which you are extremely grateful but to whom you never expressed your deep gratitude. This could be a relative, friend, teacher, or colleague. Try to pick someone who is still alive and could meet you face-to-face in the next week. It may be most helpful to select a person or act that you haven’t thought about for a while—something that isn’t always on your mind.
Now, write a letter to one of these people, guided by the following steps.
- Write as though you are addressing this person directly (“Dear ______”).
- Don’t worry about grammar or spelling.
- Describe in specific terms what this person did, why you are grateful to this person, and how this person’s behavior affected your life. Try to be as concrete as possible.
- Describe what you are doing in your life now and how you often remember their efforts.
- Try to keep your letter to roughly one page (around 300 words).
Next, you should try if at all possible to deliver your letter in person, following these steps:
- Plan a visit with the recipient. Let that person know you’d like to see them and have something special to share, but don’t reveal the exact purpose of the meeting.
- When you meet, let the person know that you are grateful to them and would like to read a letter expressing your gratitude; ask that they refrain from interrupting until you’re done.
- Take your time reading the letter. While you read, pay attention to their reaction as well as your own.
- After you have read the letter, be receptive to their reaction and discuss your feelings together.
- Remember to give the letter to the person when you leave.
If physical distance keeps you from making a visit, you may choose to arrange a phone or video chat.