Gratitude has been found to increase positive emotions, reduce the risk of depression, heighten relationship satisfaction, and increase resilience in the face of stressful life events. And those are only some of the benefits. One great way to express AND experience gratitude is to write a gratitude Legacy Letter.
Writing a letter of gratitude is powerful, both for you and the recipient. Science tells us that showing gratitude helps us lead a more meaningful life and that after writing and sharing a gratitude letter we feel happier. In the article “Four Great Gratitude Strategies,”, one of the strategies is saying thank you. Specifically, “[W]riting a thoughtful, detailed Gratitude Letter is a great way to increase your own feelings of gratitude and happiness while also making the other person feel appreciated and valued; it may also deepen your relationship with them.”
There are limitless opportunities to share gratitude in a letter. We can write gratitude Legacy Letters for all kinds of gifts or experiences. Even if you haven’t received a gift recently, you can write a meaningful gratitude Legacy Letter. One great gratitude Legacy Letter to write anytime is to a friend.
You can use this prompt as a warm up for your gratitude Legacy Letter to a friend.
Think about a friend who makes you feel cared for in a special way or whose friendship is precious to you. Perhaps it is a friend who visited you in the hospital and made you feel cared for. Or maybe it is the friend who listens without judgement when you are sad or struggling. Or maybe it is the friend who always makes you feel seen and loved for who you are. Who is that special friend?
Open yourself up to feeling how your friend makes you feel. Notice how your body feels and how you feel emotionally when you think about a specific instance when your friend cared or listened or made you feel seen. Feel the feelings so you can bring them forth when you write.
Sit down with your computer or paper and pen. Think about how you want your recipient to feel.
Write a gratitude Legacy Letter to the person who cared for you.
Include these four things:
- Why you are writing to them
- What they did for you, with examples
- How it made you feel when they cared for, or listened to or saw you
- Your thanks, gratitude and love
The difference between a standard letter and a Legacy Letter is that a Legacy Letter uses story and reflection and then expresses love.
Here’s what a simple Gratitude Legacy Letter looks like put together. This one is from a woman to her long time friend and college roommate:
I loved visiting you last week. It was so fun to spend time with you and your family.
THE WHY (continued) and THE STORY
You gave me a gift that is so precious to me. As I was about to leave, you pulled me aside. You told me you loved me, not just because I was your long time friend and college roommate. You told me that you saw how much I cared about people, my family and the greater community. You also told me that I knew how to make people happy and to see them for who they are and honor that.
Being seen by you in this way felt incredible. I thank you for lighting me up and making me feel seen in the way I want to be seen. I am still smiling at the memory.
It is wonderful to be recognized for the person I strive to be. I am not surprised that you see who I am, as we are similar in our goal and our desire to change the world quietly. Small acts of kindness create ripples, I enjoy creating those ripples and I love that you notice.
I send you a big hug and kiss and hope to spend another wonderful time together soon.
Who will you write to? What’s Your Why for a Gratitude Letter? Take the time to think about your friend and put your ideas on paper.
Whoever you choose, they are sure to be touched—and so are you. Legacy Letters are powerful both for the recipients and for the people who write them. I hope you’ll write and send one today!
Legacy letters last a lifetime and help you express just how much you care for the people in your life. I invite you to grab a copy of Deepening Connections with Legacy Letters where I show you how to craft one from the heart.