Gratitude is a positive emotion that has endless benefits. When you are grateful to someone, both you and the person you refer to will feel happier. With this little exercise you can increase your well-being and maybe start a conversation that can strengthen your relationship with the people you care about. Not convinced yet? Keep reading and I might change your mind 🙂
Why do we need gratitude
We are social animals and we love to feel included and useful. When you do a great job, you appreciate the praise from your boss. In the same way, when you do a good deed, it feels great to know that the other part is grateful for your help.
The great thing about gratitude is that it affects both sides. When you express your gratitude to someone, that person feels happier. But you feel happier too! It’s a win-win situation.
And yet, many times we forget how important it is to say thank you. The reason behind it – our busy schedules. These days no one seems to have time to spend a moment and properly thank people from being there for them. Or even to acknowledge when something great happens to them.
When I was a kid, my mum would sit with me help me write thank you notes to the relatives who had sent me presents for my birthday or Christmas. I remember I used to love to do those little messages. I would use my favourite perfumed letters (so sad this tradition is long lost!) and my faithful pens and I would tell them why I loved their presents and how I was planning to play with them.
Types of gratitude
There are many ways to classify gratitude but to make it simple we can divide it in two types:
This is a very common way to show gratitude. That is when you are grateful for someone else’s actions and you show it in a discreet, not direct way. Let’s say your husband was extremely helpful last week and you decide to cook him a special meal because you feel so grateful. Most probably no mentions are needed, both parties acknowledge the gratitude without having to say it with words.
In this type of gratitude, you explicitly express your feelings with words, thanking the person you feel grateful for in a way that describes the reason behind it. It can be as simple as saying “thank you” or you can elaborate it as much as you want.
This exercise has been proven very successful in the past (here you can see an experiment put on by Soul Pancake) and therapists keep recommending it as a perfect way to show gratitude.
It is very simple, yet extremely powerful.
You just need to think of a person you are grateful for (you can think as big or specific as you want) and write a letter to him or her expressing your feelings of gratitude towards them. You can then decide whether you want to:
- Keep the letter and never send it (your happiness will be slightly increased, but not the receiver’s, as they will be unaware of its existence)
- Send the letter via post/email (both of you will feel happier, but unless the other person tells you about their reaction you won’t be able to feel it)
- Call this person or even meet them in person and read the the letter aloud. This has the most powerful effect as you will be able to see their reactions live and both of you will feel more excited. Granted, if you’re too shy you might not feel comfortable, but it’s a great way to get out of your comfort zone
If you decide to try this exercise, please share with us the results in the comment box below! 🙂 And if your story is too long for a comment, you can always use our Share Your Story section. I’m looking forward to reading all your stories!