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Feeling GratitudeHow To Write A Gratitude Letter And Why It Is Important

By George Marino CPC, CMMT

Feeling gratitude can improve health and happiness and strengthen relationships. When a person feels discouraged and stuck and is seeking some possible ways to move beyond feelings of sadness and stuckness, I often request a coaching client to write a “gratitude letter”. Sometimes expressions of thanks can be fleeting and superficial. With a gratitude letter, a person is encouraged to express gratitude in a thoughtful, deliberate way by writing - and ideally, delivering - a letter of gratitude to a person that has never properly thanked. I did this with a person whom I have worked with for over fifteen years after having slipped into a pattern of taking things for granted. Having experienced stuckness for a period of time, this letter and the process of completing the letter and practice provided a pathway to move beyond these feelings of stuckness. Repeating this exercise for others further added to well- being.

How do you do it?

First, bring into your awareness someone who did something for you which you are extremely grateful. This could be a relative, friend, teacher or colleague. Try to pick someone who is still alive and you could meet face –to-face in the next week. It may be most helpful to select a person or act that you haven’t thought about for a while- something that isn’t always on your mind.

Here are the steps to write this type of a letter:

First, write as though you are speaking to this person directly. Second, don’t worry about perfect grammar. Three, describe in specific terms what this person did, why you are grateful to this person, and how this person impacted your life. Try to be as concrete as possible. Fourth, describe what you are doing in your life now and how you often remember their efforts. Fifth, try to keep the letter to about one page.

Getting ready to visit and deliver the letter:

First, let the person know you’d like to see them and have something special to share, but don’t reveal the exact purpose of the meeting. Second, when you actually meet this person, let them know that you are grateful to them and would like to read a letter expressing gratitude; ask that they refrain from interrupting until you are done. Third, take your time reading the letter. While reading, try to pay attention to their reaction as well as your own feeling. Fourth, after you read the letter, be receptive to their reaction and discuss your feeling together. Fifth, remember to give the letter to the person when you leave. If physical distance keeps you from making a visit, you may choose to arrange a phone or video chat.

Why this works and benefits:

This letter affirms positive things in your life and reminds you how others have cared for you-life seems less bleak and lonely if someone has taken such a supportive interest in us. Visiting the giver allows you to strengthen your connection with them and remember how others value you as an individual.

When we are aware of gratitude that is already within, this letter and the process described above which is supported by science can greatly enhance a person’s well- being and sense of purpose.

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