A gratitude letter is akin to a meaningful thank you letter, written to someone who has been important in your life. Studies have shown that writing gratitude letters provide significant and lasting elevations in mood to the writer. Lyubomirsky's research was able to show that people who practiced writing gratitude letters for just 15 minutes a week for 8 weeks, were happier 6 months later than those who hadn’t. Psychologist Martin Seligman found participants who wrote a gratitude letter to someone they had never properly thanked were happier and less depressed one month later compared to those who had simply written about an early memory.
Whether or not you choose to give the letter to the person to whom you are writing it about, is up to you. While the maximum benefit is derived from sharing this letter with the intended recipient, you still gain many positive outcomes even if you choose not to share your letter. Studies show that for a full month after a "gratitude visit" happiness levels tend to go up, while other negative feelings go down. The gratitude visit is more effective than any other activity within the field of positive psychology. If you don’t feel comfortable making a gratitude visit, you could consider sending the letter by mail. Or, you may just want to write the letter and hold on to it for awhile, and decide what if anything, you’d like to do with it. You don’t need to limit yourself to writing just one letter. Some people make a practice of writing a letter a month to a different individual.
Take the time to write a gratitude letter to someone meaningful in your life. You could write the letter to a parent, a spouse, a child, a sibling, a good friend, a teacher, etc. …whoever has touched your life for the better. At first you may feel awkward or uncomfortable doing this, which is natural. However, the more of these that your write, the more you will feel at ease with the process.