What happens when we acknowledge another’s kindness? What happens when we contemplate those acts or experiences for which we feel grateful?
We feel good!
We experience benefits to our health when we write a letter of gratitude to someone who helped us in our life. Delivering that letter in person increases those benefits! But, whether or not we deliver the letter in person, the act of writing to someone to whom we feel gratitude benefits us as well as the recipient.
Studies show that over time, consistent letter writing to people to whom we are grateful lifts our spirit and improves our health.
Writing a letter of gratitude helps us to focus on what we appreciate, rather than dwell on negative thoughts and feelings that can become the center our of thoughts.
Writing in a gratitude journal can also be beneficial.
One way to begin this practice is to write 5 things for which we are grateful that occurred in the past week. This exercise is not about “just writing a list.” It is about focusing on what we truly appreciate. We can go deep. We can elaborate. We can attend to the particulars of an event, gesture, or experience and “re-experience” those details, savoring it in our mind and heart. This is not about going through the motions. Generally, gratitude that focuses on relationships (as opposed to material things) has a significant effect on our wellbeing. If we have difficulty doing this, we can think about what our life would be like without someone, something, or an experience that we had. We can commit ourselves to become more grateful which often leads to contentment.