Continuing the theme of kindness and looking after your mental health, I thought I would talk about writing a letter of thanks.
This is something I read about in Martin Selligman’s book Flourish. If you have not heard of him Martin Selligman is a Professor of Psychology and one of the originators of Positive Psychology. His website Authentic Happiness is worth a visit. If you do visit have a go at some of the questionnaires, especially the VIA survey of Character Strengths. It is long, but definitely an eye opener.
Anyway back to the point. So this letter of thanks, is an exercise suggested by Martin to improve your level of happiness. As mentioned yesterday, Psychologists have proven that being kind and making others happy, has a profound effect on your own happiness.
This is what you do. Think about all the milestones in your life. Ask yourself, who helped you at that time. What part did they play in your milestone? Was it an action, or was it a word of encouragement? Then do you see them regularly? Do they realise that they played a role in that milestone? Did you ever get chance to say thank you? If you have answered no to the last 3 questions, then why don’t you write a letter of thanks to them.
Start your letter with: ‘I want to thank you for the positive impact you have had on my life. I never got the chance to thank you at the time, so I have decided to take the time to write down what you did for me.’
Once you have written your letter the letter, if you don’t know where they live find out. Now don’t post that letter. Deliver it by hand. Then when you meet them don’t just hand them the letter and walk away before they read it. Tell them you have written a letter to them, and if they don’t mind you would like to read it to them. Then sit down and read it to them. This is the important bit, sharing your appreciation for them, with them face to face is so powerful, you may feel embarrassed at first but that will pass quickly, then you will both be smiling, laughing a crying, remembering those times.
Life is to short to wait for opportunities to let someone now how much we appreciate, we should make the opportunities.
If you feel able try it out. Remember the people we overlook when giving our thanks are those closest to us, we don’t always have to look far to find someone worthy of our appreciation