One of the most famous and best-studied Positive Psychology interventions is the Gratitude Letter. A gratitude letter blesses both the person who delivers it and the person who receives it. Even six months after writing a letter — and reading it aloud — to a person to whom you are grateful, benefits to physical health and mental wellbeing persist.
For today’s exercise, you will customize the Gratitude Letter practice, to thank someone specifically for giving you hope about the future. You may have been despairing — or just in need of a new perspective and a renewed sense of possibility. The person who helped you may have done so recently — or in the distant past.
Hope is intergenerational, communal, and even contagious. The Gratitude For Hope Letter acknowledges this and creates an upward spiral for two people.
Begin by thinking of someone alive today, to whom you have access, and who has given you hope.
Write a letter to that person, expressing your thanks for the hope they have given you. It’s good, but not required, to select a person or hopeful message that you haven’t thought about for a while, so that you recapture an unexplored message of hope. If there is someone you never thanked properly (or could never thank enough), that person would be a great choice.
Write the letter without concern for grammar, spelling, or structure. Focus on summarizing what the other person did or said and why you are grateful for it. Share the impact they had on you — specifically regarding their hope and encouragement. If you wish, you can add additional examples of other ways they have benefitted you. You may want to name the qualities you see in them for which you are grateful, especially as those qualities relate to their gift of hope to you.
Important: Do not send the letter. Instead, make an appointment for Day 11, the Thursday following this 10-day challenge, or even sooner, if possible, and read the letter aloud to the person who has blessed you. It’s best to do this in person, but you can also connect via FaceTime or Zoom.
“Nothing that is done for you is a matter of course. Everything originates in a will for the good, which is directed at you. Train yourself never to put off the word or action for the expression of gratitude.”
Wishing you joy in this moment and in the anticipation of a good future,