April 18, 2022
Need a quick mood boost? Write a gratitude letter.
It’s easy. Think of a person who’s made a real difference in your life. Sit down at a desk with a piece of paper and a pen. Set a timer for 15 minutes. Share as much detail as you can about what this person did for you, the difference it’s made in your life, and how grateful you are for them.
Why? Because writing about what you’re grateful for has been shown to improve mental health. One study found that participants who wrote gratitude letters before their first visit with a counselor experience better outcomes than those who didn’t.1
The participants in the study didn’t even have to deliver the letters. The act of writing them was enough to experience benefits.
But if you want to supercharge your well-being, deliver the letter in person. Better yet, read it out loud to the recipient. It’s been proven to boost happiness for one to three months.² Seems strange, right? What if reading the letter out loud is… weird?
The good news is, it doesn’t have to be weird. If you can write the letter with sincerity and without any expectations, the person receiving it will likely feel touched, appreciated, and supported—all of which are great for their well-being, too.
So go ahead and give it a try! The next time you’re feeling down, write a letter of gratitude. It might just be the best 15 minutes you spend all day.
¹ “How Gratitude Changes You and Your Brain,” Joshua Brown, Joel Wong, Greater Good Magazine, Jun 6, 2017 https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/how_gratitude_changes_you_and_your_brain
² “My Life Is Awesome, so Why Can’t I Enjoy It?” Laurie R. Santos, The Aspen Institute, Jun 24, 2019, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EimJNJXcta4&t=1422s