Deeper and more meaningful than a quick thank-you note, a letter of gratitude is a way to communicate more complex feelings of appreciation. If you’re wondering how to write a letter of appreciation or say thank-you thoughtfully, read on! From the journal prompts that can get you started on your first gratitude letter, to ways to begin the body of your letter, we’ll cover everything you need to know.
First, let’s talk about the benefits of a thank-you letter, both for the writer and the recipient.
The Benefits of Writing a Letter of Gratitude
Beyond making someone else feel good, a gratitude letter has benefits for the writer too! Forbes.com lists several scientifically proven benefits associated with the expression of gratitude, like:
- More and healthier relationships
- Improved physical and psychological health
- Better sleep
- Improved self-esteem
As you can see, gratitude letters are therapeutic! Even children can benefit from the acknowledgment of gratitude and a feeling of thankfulness.
With so many benefits for everyone involved, it makes sense that a letter of gratitude should come from the heart. It should always feel genuine to the reader and the writer. So spend a few minutes considering what and who you’re thankful for and how they’ve impacted your life before you begin.
Take Your Time: A Letter of Gratitude Shouldn’t be Rushed.
Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center says you should spend at least 15 minutes crafting the letter itself, and if possible, spend another 30 minutes visiting with the recipient, reading your letter to them and taking in their reactions. Sometimes a physical visit can’t happen, and that’s okay. It should never be a barrier to the writing and sending of a letter of gratitude. Here at Imperfect Ink, we provide a space for your letter to be seen and heard by others even when the intended recipient can not.
Gratitude Journal Prompts to Get You Started
Life is hectic. We understand! With so much stress and uncertainty in the world, it can be hard to get started on letters of gratitude. If you’re stumped, try journaling about experiences you’ve loved, or days that made you experience thankfulness.
Your Journal Prompts for Gratitude Could Start With:
- Remember a positive life experience. Write about it in detail, and describe how meaningful this experience was. Try to remember all the people involved and consider how this experience impacted your life.
- Think about life’s small, simple pleasures. Perhaps you love the smell of coffee brewing in the morning shared with your roommate, or when a stranger greets you with a smile. Has anyone helped you by providing these simple joys?
- Consider medical professionals or first responders in your life. Have you ever been saved from an emergency? Who helped?
- Who’s helped you with constructive feedback that changed your life for the better or simply listened when you needed them most?
Finally, make sure you’re enjoying the writing. If your letter of gratitude feels more like dreaded homework, as opposed to a joyful expression, take a break and try again later. Even just stepping outside your home for a few minutes can bring inspiration into your heart.
Tips on How to Say “Thank You” Meaningfully
Perhaps you know who to express your gratitude to, but you’re struggling to find the words. If that’s the case, you could start by drawing a picture in your journal, and describing the unforgettable experience. Think of it as a mental exercise to get those creative juices flowing! Then, read other gratitude letters for inspiration.
Try these tips for starting the body of your letter:
- Recall an exact date — “On December 25, 2015, you made an impression on me.” Or consider the time frame — “It’s been six weeks since you helped me.”
- Describe yourself — “I don’t know if you remember me. I was the girl with the broken leg.”
- State your gratitude — “I am so thankful for your love and support during such a difficult time.”
- Describe how they and their actions have brought you joy and changed your life for the better.
- Be sincere with your words and express to them how much you appreciate them, not just what they did for you.— “I appreciate you so much.”
Ultimately, spending fifteen minutes writing a heartfelt thank-you letter to someone will undoubtedly improve your day and theirs! If you make letters of gratitude a regular practice, you’ll likely be a happier, healthier person. See more anonymous and personal expressions at Imperfectink.com.
Frequently Asked Questions
Take your time and begin by remembering the people who’ve helped you along the way. Be sincere when you write, and speak from your heart. Not ready to give it to someone? Post it anonymously on Imperfect Ink
Be sure to tell the person how much you appreciate them and not just their actions when expressing your gratitude.
Imperfect Ink has a wonderful collection of gratitude letters to sift through; you can even submit your own anonymous letters for others to read. Read sample gratitude letters