If there was a simple action you could take right now that has been proven to be the most effective action to defeat depression for a whole month each time you do it, that doesn’t cost any money, has no negative side effects and helps another person feel good at the same time – would you do it?
Well, Meghan, you might be thinking, does it involve hugging a tree while standing on my head while raising money for dolphins? No, we’ll get to that later. It’s simply writing a heartfelt letter of appreciation to someone you feel truly grateful for, and then delivering it to them in person.
Psychologist Martin E.P. Seligman, from the University of Pennsylvania tested several strategies to find which had the greatest impact on happiness. Writing the letter of gratitude and delivering it in person, was found to have the greatest impact, with benefits lasting up to a month!
Gratitude is an emotion often studied in positive psychology. Several studies have been done on keeping a gratitude journal, simply writing down what you are grateful for daily or a few times a week. While not quite as effective as the written letter delivered in person was, even writing down your gratitude can improve your mood for weeks afterwards.
The wonderful thing about gratitude is that you can call upon it no matter what the situation, and no matter how down you may feel. It doesn’t depend on everything going smoothly for you to feel it. Even in the midst of tragedy, loss and illness, gratitude is still accessible. Maybe it’s gratitude for supportive loved ones, thankfulness for what you are still able to do, appreciation for what resources and opportunities you do have.
Gratitude doesn’t wait to fulfill wishes and desires for what isn’t. It is felt in the present, for the abundance that exists now.
What do you feel gratitude for? Let me know in the comments! (I’ll be very grateful to you) 🙂