Paolo Assandri
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  • Exercise

A Letter of Gratitude

Expressing gratitude can have a deep positive effect on our sense of wellbeing. It can have a beneficial impact on both people involved (who shows and who receives gratitude).

Despite showing gratitude is an experience that nourishes us, we rarely share it with the people who are part of our life (or used to be).

This is meant to be your opportunity of increasing your sense of well-being by means of this simple activity: to write a letter of gratitude.

As you can well imagine, you will need a pen and paper. If you prefer, you can use your smart-phone or your computer. Of course, in this hyper-technological era, it can be a traditional letter, an email, a text: it can be any kind of written message that would convey everything you want to communicate.

How to write a Letter of Gratitude:

  1. Choose a person in your life who helped you (or who was very kind with you) and with whom you didn’t have the chance to say “thank you”. It could be a friend, a teacher, a coach, a parent, a relative – anyone who had a positive impact on your life but who never had the chance of receiving your manifestation of gratitude.
  2. Take your time and ponder about what that person did for you and for what you are grateful for.
  3. Take 10-20 minutes to write your letter of gratitude, expressing your gratitude for what the person did for you. Start the letter with “Dear….”: write their name (or surname). Or you can choose a creative way to start the letter. However, make it clear that the letter is specifically meant for the person you want to thank.
  4. Do not worry about the way you are writing it. It doesn’t have to be a perfect letter.
  5. Describe in a specific way everything the person did for you and how their actions or words changed your life. If a specific episode comes to mind, write it down.
  6. Complete your letter by signing it with your name or nickname ( depending on how that person is - or was - used to call you).
  7. If you feel like it and if it is possible, you can send the letter, by post, email or text. Remember: don’t do anything you don’t feel like doing. Do not use this letter as an excuse to reconnect with an ex partner who left you or that you broke up with ( you could regret it) neither do not send the letter if you think it could cause any damage to you or the other person. Always be responsible.

There could also be some other options regarding the letter that could increase even more your sense of wellbeing, despite being seen as embarrassing:

For example, you could ask the person you sent the letter, to read it out loud in your presence ( it could also be done on a video call on WhatsApp or Skype). Or you could read it out loud to the person you want to thank.

I invite you to keep this experience as a private and intimate moment. Write the letter and let the words settle within you. At the same time, I invite you to welcome the reaction of the person receiving the letter and let it settle in.

I wish you a nourishing and reinvigorating experience!

Author: Paolo Assandri is a HCPC Registered Counselling Psychologist and a UKCP Registered Full Clinical Psychotherapist. He is also a fully qualified Italian psychologist (Ordine degli Psicologi del Piemonte). He lives and works in London offering counselling and psychotherapy.

This exercise is not intended to replace any kind of medical/psychological therapy. Its only purpose is to increase individual perception of well-being. If you need medical or psychological support, please contact a qualified health practitioner. Authors, producers, consultants involved in the production of this exercise are not responsible for any psychological or physical injury which could happen during or after completing the activity explained in this article.

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