Last week on a training day for managers, I introduced to them an exercise of kindness that I had read about in Martin Seligman’s book Flourish. The the notion is, that if you show gratitude and kindness it not only makes them feel better, but you also get a hit of that lovely Oxytocin, therefore making you feel all warm and fuzzy and ultimately restored. The exercise I introduced to them is as follows (feel free to do this exercise, it will make you and the other person feel amazing, trust me):
Think of someone who either is or has been an important part of your life. Someone who has had an impact on who you are as a person today. Someone through them being them who has inspired, guided, or encouraged you at some point.
Now write a letter to them. Start with an introduction reminding them who you are and what you have become, and tell them why you are writing this letter. Then write in detail what they did for you, how they changed your life for the good, and how grateful you are to them. Now put it in an envelope, and write their name on it. If you don’t know where they live or work, find out. Here comes the important bit. Don’t post it! Hand deliver it. Take your letter to them, knock on their door, reintroduce yourself to them, and tell them why you are there. Now you have 2 choices you can either hand them the letter and leave, or if you are feeling brave (this will give you the best results) open the envelope and read it to them. I know it does sound scary, but remember these people are special, they made a dramatic difference in your life, so how wonderful would it be to let them know.
Now yesterday someone knocked on my office door, someone I knew, someone I admire greatly, someone who inspires me. She handed me a letter, she had a few tears in her eyes, I thought something bad had happened, she reassured me nothing had happened. After a moment she explained what it was. It was the most wonderful gift other than my children I had received. All day yesterday I was floating on a cloud, today I still feel loved and lovable. I never thought anyone would send me a letter. But wow was I grateful, it was a lovely thing. Yesterday I struggled to talk about it as it made me so emotional, but today I wanted to share it with the world. That one act of kindness meant the world to me. I know writing it and seeing my reaction meant the world to the author.
So thank you, you are truly inspirational. It is a pleasure being in your company (you know who you are).
If someone has made a difference in your life, let them know how grateful you are, lets change the world one conversation at a time.