When was the last time you thanked a friend, classmate, colleague, or relative for something nice they did for you? This month at The Mindful Collective we’re all about gratitude and thankfulness – there’s nothing that makes us happier!
Today I’d love to chat with you in more detail about writing letters of gratitude, and the further evidence of benefits they can provide. While there has been a great deal of research conducted over the years on the positives of writing-oriented gratitude activities (think daily gratitude lists, journaling, and the like), there wasn’t much in the way of data regarding sustained gratitude letter-writing. Until, that is, a recent study out of Kent State University (Toepfer, Cichy & Peters 2011). The investigation examined the effects of gratitude letter writing over time, relating to several components of subjective wellbeing.
The study looked at:
3. Life-satisfaction; and
Participants in the study were asked to write three letters of gratitude to three different people to express their appreciation. The letter writers were instructed to be reflective, expressive, and to write from a positive point of view, and to avoid falling into the trap of trivial “thank you” notes often associated with gift giving (did anybody else’s parents force them to do this after every birthday and Christmas?!). The results indicated that writing letters of gratitude increases happiness and life-satisfaction. Significant findings supported much of the previous research in the field, and showed new evidence that gratitude letter writing decreases depressive symptoms. In fact, happiness was shown to have a cumulative effect after each letter was written – now that’s a snowball effect we can get behind!
Now it’s your turn
We know that gratitude is an incredibly important virtue, emotion and practice; however, the most exciting research finding on gratitude so far is that we can build it – like our muscles! We want to help you do this and that is why we created Your Letters of Gratitude. A gorgeous pack of 13 postcards designed especially for you to put pen to paper and write your very own gratitude letters. You might choose to write to your mum, your neighbour, a teacher or mentor. You might choose to write them all at once, once a week, or spread out over the year. Whatever you decide, this is YOUR gratitude journey and we are so happy that you have chosen to take the first step!
Toepfer, SM, Cichy, K & Peters, P 2011, ‘Letters of gratitude: further evidence for author benefits’, J Happiness Study, iss. 13, pp. 187-201.