A gratitude letter is a psychological exercise where a person identifies someone that has had a significant impact in their life, expresses gratitude in a letter or note, and then delivers the letter to that person. It was first used in a positive psychology study in 2005 by Martin Seligman to improve a person’s overall quality of life. The study looked at six therapeutic interventions and found the gratitude visit had the largest short-term effect. Happiness scores from the gratitude visit increased by 10 percent while depression scores fell at the same time. These results lasted for up to one month after the visit. The idea behind a gratitude visit is to express gratitude to someone that you may not have properly thanked. Some may refer to this process simply as a “gratitude letter.” However, others make the distinction that the “gratitude visit” consists of two parts: both the letter itself, and the added step of reading the letter face to face with the other person. Instructions Close your eyes. Call up the face of someone still alive who years ago did something or said something that changed your life for the better. Someone who you never properly thanked; someone you could meet face-to-face next week. Got a face? Gratitude can make your life happier and more satisfying. When we feel gratitude, we benefit from the pleasant memory of a positive event in our life. Also, when we express our gratitude to others, we strengthen our relationship with them. But sometimes our thank you is said so casually or quickly that it is nearly meaningless. In this exercise you will have the opportunity to express your gratitude in a thoughtful, purposeful manner. Your task is to write a letter of gratitude to this individual and deliver it in person. The letter should be concrete and about three hundred words: be specific about what he/she did for you and how it affected your life. Let her know what you are doing now and mention how you often remember what he/she did. Make it sing! Once you have written the testimonial, call the person and tell her you’d like to visit him/her, but be vague about the purpose of the meeting; this exercise is much more fun when it is a surprise. When you meet him/her, take your time reading your letter. Related Videos: What is Gratitude? https://youtu.be/Ctuo6xyxk6Y The Four A’s for Expressing Gratitude: https://youtu.be/ZLMbaNG3G3Q Martin Seligman | Gratitude Visit: https://youtu.be/233-2BZO1ao HAP 200, Happiness Studies Out-Of-Class Assignment: Gratitude Letter (Instructions) © Matthew A. Gilbert, MBA Revised: 11/11/2018 Page 2 of 2 Suggestions 1. Write no longer than one page; Seligman suggests it be somewhere around 300 words. 2. Specifically explain how they have made an impact on your life; think of any particular thoughts or feelings you’ve had but never expressed to the individual verbally. 3. Make it a surprise. Be vague about why you want to meet up. It will make the visit special and unique. 4. Read the letter out loud to them. It will add a personal touch and add to the sincerity. 5. Consider laminating or framing the letter as a gift; a token or memento that the recipient can keep as a visual reminder of your gratitude. 6. Plan time for catching up after reading the letter; gratitude can be a natural conversation starter into deeper topics or areas of life. 7. Reflect or Reminisce after the visit to cement the memory of gratitude, or for an extra boost of happiness afterwards. 8. Use skype, google hangouts, FaceTime, or other video app if you’re unable to do the visit in person.