Creativity for the Rest of Us

The Gratitude Visit

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. – Martin Seligman

I’m currently on fire about Flourish – A Visionary Understanding of Happiness and Well-Being
by Martin Seligman.  “This book will increase your well-being and it will help you flourish.”  So claims (not at all casually) this conservative research scientist and daddy of positive psychology.

Right out of the gate in Chapter Two he offers an exercise called the “Gratitude Visit”, an opportunity to express your gratitude in a thoughtful, purposeful manner.  This exercise changes people’s lives.  He knows.  He’s done the research.

The task is to spend some time reflecting and call up in your mind a person who is still alive who somewhere in your past did or said something that had a positive impact on your life.  Write a letter of gratitude to this person.

Specificity creates intimacy.  – Angeles Arrien

Spend some time on this and recall the details of the experience, what was said or done and what this person did for you. Include the details in your letter and how what they did changed you.  Aim for 300 words.  Let them know the impact they have had on your life and how you are doing now.

When you have finished your letter, make plans to go visit the person but keep your intention vague.  When you do get together, take your time reading your letter to them.  Ask them in advance not to interrupt and to listen and take in what you are reading. Once you are finished, you can talk about it and your feelings for each other.

Seligman claims you will be happier and less depressed one month from now.  I would take this a step further and say it also nurtures the heart of our creative spirit – which is related to reflection, making connections, learning, and appreciation.

Do your own research.  Write the letter.  Report back.

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