A Simple Exercise to Increase Well-Being & Lower Depression from Martin Seligman, Founding Father of Positive Psychology
Geege Schuman stashed this in Happiness
"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 experience what it is like 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 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 she did. Make it sing! Once you have written the testimonial, call the person and tell her you’d like to visit her, but be vague about the purpose of the meeting; this exercise is much more fun when it is a surprise. When you meet her, take your time reading your letter."
This somewhat self-consciousness-inducing exercise, Seligman promises, will make you happier and less depressed a mere month from now.
300 words sounds like a lot. This is why I prefer cards. They're shorter and more to the point.
300 words sounds about right to me! This might be one of those instances when specificity requires more, not less. Besides, it is sent to ONE person, not many, and is meant to be read aloud.
300 words requires picking a story and being specific.
That's difficult to write, but clearly it has its benefits.