If you’ve read my previous article on Positive Psychology you’ll be aware of the positive psychology interventions that I mentioned and how they can benefit both those with poor and good mental wellbeing. You’ll also be aware that I gave an example of what I would do if I wrote a gratitude letter. Thus, I thought I’d actually follow through on my gratitude letter example. I hope it inspires you to do the same.
What Is A Gratitude Letter?
In case you haven’t read my Positive Psychology article yet (which you can do now if you’d like by clicking here), then let me quickly tell you what the gratitude letter intervention is for Positive Psychology.
This intervention is pretty simple, all you need is a pen and paper if you want to go old school or a smartphone, tablet, or computer with a writing app or software. Then, try to recall a memory of someone who’s engaged in an act of kindness towards you, then write a letter to the person. In that letter, you will want to describe your feelings of gratitude associated with this act of kindness. If desired, once you’ve finished your letter, you can send the person who was kind to you the gratitude letter you’d just wrote.
Regardless of if you send the gratitude letter to the person you’re writing it to, you’ll feel an improvement to your personal wellbeing. However, if you want to spread that feeling, sharing the gratitude letter with the person you’re writing it to so that they can have their personal wellbeing boosted. Plus, you never know, you may inspire them to do the same too, meaning you could start to spread this wellbeing boost beyond the person you were being grateful to.
If you’ve read my article whereby I talk about childhood and how I ended up being suicidal at eight years of age, then you’ll understand why I decided to write my gratitude letter to thank the only person who stood up to my bullies with me. You can read that letter for yourself below.
A Study On Gratitude Letters
A pilot study by Toepfer and Walker (2009) looked into the benefits of writing gratitude letters. The study used an unusually large participant size for a pilot study, with 72 female and 13 male participants. The participants in the experimental group had to write or type three gratitude letters over the course of eight weeks. The participants were also instructed to write these letters for non-trivial matters, such as thanking someone for a birthday present. The control group wasn’t given the letter-writing task and were only required to fill in some questionnaires instead.
The results of the study saw a larger increase in happiness scores in the experimental group when compared the to control group. Thus, the act of writing the gratitude letters saw an increase in two sub-domains of wellbeing: gratitude and happiness.
To the only person who ever stood up for me,
I’m writing you this letter to convey how thankful I am for having met you and having you in my life during a very dark time for me.
I’m not sure if you remember, I know I’ve never forgotten, but while we were at primary school together, you were the only person that stood up for me regarding the racial abuse and bullying I had to endure.
I’ve suffered racial abuse all my life, with the bullying at school and outside of school being a constant problem I had to contend with growing up. No one had ever done anything to help me before, or since really. You were the only person to have my back and you didn’t have to, no one else ever did, and I’ve never forgotten you because of that.
I know we don’t really know each other anymore and haven’t seen each other for decades, but I just wanted you to know how grateful I am for this act of support you offered me that day in the face of multiple older kids bullying me.
It is the one untainted memory I have of my childhood that I can look back on that keeps me from giving up on people. I wish more people were like you, I included. Being willing to be that one person that makes a difference to someone else, even though you did what you did without even knowing that your actions would have such a profound effect on me, and how it still does, all these years later, is my aim in life.
I want to be the person that makes a difference in someone else’s life, not because I want acknowledgement for it, but because I want to pay it forward and pay it forward as often as I can.
Thank you for being the one person who stood up for me. I wish you all the best in everything you do, and I hope someone returns the favour should you ever need it.
As always, leave your feedback in the comments section below. Also, let me know if you tried writing a gratitude letter in the comments section below as well. If you want to stay up-to-date with my blog, then sign up for my newsletter below. Alternatively, get push notifications of new articles by clicking the red bell icon in the bottom right corner.
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Unwanted Life readers.
Toepfer, S. M. & Walker, K. (2009). Letters of Gratitude: Improving Well-Being through Expressive Writing. Journal of Writing Research, 1(3), 181-198. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/276486329_Letters_of_Gratitude_Improving_Well-Being_through_Expressive_Writing and https://www.jowr.org/abstracts/vol1_3/Toepfer_Walker_2009_1_3_abstract.html.