Based on research by Toepfer, Stephen M, & Walker, Kathleen, (2009), written by Mara Rowcliffe, BS.
Feelings of being grateful can be powerful, helping us to appreciate what we have. Does expressing sincere gratitude make you a happier person?
Drs. Stephen Toepfer and Kathleen Walker at Kent State University assessed whether writing letters of thanks would increase well-being. Researchers gave some classes an assignment to write three letters of gratitude over 8 weeks that were then mailed. They were instructed to be thoughtful, and reflective, focusing on something specific and meaningful a person did for which they were grateful. Other classes did not write any letters.
The researchers assessed the differences between the classes on happiness, gratitude and life satisfaction. Results revealed that writing three letters of thanks increased both happiness and gratitude. These measures increased each time a participant wrote another letter, and was higher than the individuals who did not participate in letter writing. The increase of well being over time shows that sustained writing is beneficial.
We can influence our own positive feelings. Increase your level of happiness and gratitude right now! Send an email, letter, or text thanking someone for something specific they did. Not only will you increase your own well being, you may brighten someone’s day!
Toepfer, S. M., & Walker, K. (2009). Letters of gratitude: Improving well-being through expressive writing. Journal of Writing Research, 1(3), 181-198.