A whole new mind
Why right-brainers will rule the future
Daniel H. Pink
pag 235, 236
Gratitude works. Feelings of gratitude enhance well-being and deepen one’s sense of meaning. That’s why Martin Seligman whose work I described earlier in this chapter, advocates “the gratitude visit.” It works like this: You think of a person in your life who has been kind or generous to you but whom you’ve never properly thanked. You write a detailed “gratitude letter” to that person, explaining in concrete terms why you’re grateful/ Then you visit that person and read the letter aloud. According to Seligman, the ritual is quite powerful. “Everyone cries when you do a gratitude visit. It’s very moving for both people. Selingman’s research , as well as the work of growing ranks of scholars who study positive psychology, suggests that gratitude is a key to component of personal happiness. People who are grateful about specific things in their past, who dwell on the sweet triumphs instead of the bitter disappointments, tend to be more satisfied about the present. The gratitude visit, Seligman says, can be an effective way to “increase the intensity, duration anf frequency of positive memory.”
One reason to give the gratitude visit a try is that it can generate a momentum of its own. Those who are thanked often then start to consider who in their lives they never thanked. So they make their own pilgrimage, as eventually do the recipients of their thanks, resulting in an daisy chain of gratitude and contentment.
Two variations on the theme are the birthday gratitude list and the gratitude one-a-day. The birthday gratitude list is simple. Once a year, o your birthday, make a list of the things for which you ‘re grateful – with the number of items equaling the number of years you’re turning that day. (When I did this on my fortieth birthday, ma gratitude list included everything from red wine to the fact that my children are healthy to living in a free country.) Your list will grow by one each year – the theory being the older you get, the more you have to be thankful for. Keep your lists and review them each birthday. It will bring a sense of satisfaction that can sooth the anxiety of time’s passage. The gratitude one -a – day is a way to weave thankfulness into your daily routine. Each day, at a certain moment, think of one thing for which you’re grateful. Some people do this when they’re about to go to sleep. Others do it to accompany some existing routine – when they drink a cup of coffee in the morning, when they make their bed, when they take their first step outside. These gratitude exercises might sound a little touchy-feely to some of you. Give them a try anyway. I guarantee you’ll thank me.