About a year ago I was stuck. Full of anger, jealousy, comparison, a feeling of lack in my life. I was focused on this feeling of not having resources to do what I felt made me happy. I was unhappy with the community I lived in, and felt stuck. I was jealous of my friends I saw in my Instagram and Facebook feed. It seemed they were all traveling all over the world and working on such cool and meaningful projects. I was frustrated I didn’t know what my purpose in this world was. What was I put here to do? Can you relate to any/all of these things?
It hit me one morning I had created habits of negativity. Each new negative habit I had created for myself led to even more negative habits. It was a vicious cycle and I realized I needed to replace my negative habits with positive ones. In came gratitude…
It was here that I stumbled upon a book called One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are, by Ann Voskamp. She used a gratitude list to help pull her out of a deep depression. She just kept notebooks all over the place and literally filled them with all the things she was grateful for. I wanted to try this out, but I realized very quickly my list was filled with people I’d shared experiences with throughout my life, or folks who’ve impacted me in some way.
So, I started writing one gratitude letter a day to a friend, family member or kind soul who’s loved me when I needed it most. Notes filled with all the things I love about the people in my life. Lists of things I love about them, why they’re so awesome and how they’re impacting the world.
Ponder this for a second. How many times do you think something rad about someone in your life? I’ll bet a lot. How many times do you then tell that special someone the radness you thought about them? I’ll bet not a lot.
And, here’s the deal. Gratitude is magic. My very unscientific description of the whole gratitude process:
- A positive message travels along a nerve in the brain and reaches the end of the nerve, it releases chemicals that are then picked up by the next nerve allowing the message to be carried on.
- These chemicals, or neurotransmitters, have a calming effect on the brain by increasing levels of other chemicals such as serotonin, which produces calm and peaceful feelings.
- The more genuinely positive messages that are sent, the more neurochemicals are released and received allowing for peace and contentment and happiness.
I’ve found since I started my gratitude letter writing practice I’m less aggressive, happier, more optimistic, I sleep better and I have a better control on dealing with stress. I’ve found more JOY in the little things and an appreciation for life that was missing before. Gratitude changes everything.
Want to get started on writing gratitude letters to those you love in your life? I have a 14 day Spread Joy Letter Writing Challenge filled with tips on how to get you started and prompts on what to say if you’re feeling stuck. All the details can be found at Josh Solar Loves You.
Join Josh in a movement to fill the world with gratitude and appreciation! Write a letter of gratitude right now! Tell us about your experience in the comments.