Washington, Nov 26: Want to find the key to a happy life? Well, all you need to do is grab a pen and write letters of gratitude.
Yes, you heard it right. But this method is only a fast solution to make your life happier than what it is now. That's what a research done by Dr. Steven Toepfer, assistant professor of family and consumer studies at Kent State University says. According to Toepfer, people should explore the effects of writing letters of gratitude to people who had positively impacted their lives. Toepfer, an assistant professor of family and consumer studies at university's Salem Campus, says that expressive writing is something that has been available to mankind since ink first appeared in Egypt more than 4,000 years ago.
"Everyone is pursuing the American dream. We are wealthier than previous generations, consuming more and experiencing more, but yet so many of us are so unhappy," Toepfer says.
"The question of 'is there something simple we can do to be happier?' is one that I have been thinking about for many years and one that has interested people for much longer," the researcher added.
With that question in mind, Toepfer enlisted students from six courses to explore the effects of writing letters of gratitude to people who had positively impacted the students' lives. Over the course of a six-week period, students wrote one letter every two weeks with the simple ground rules that it had to be positively expressive, required some insight and reflection, were nontrivial and contained a high level of appreciation or gratitude.
After each letter, students completed a survey to gauge their moods, satisfaction with life and feelings of gratitude and happiness.
Studies demonstrate, according to Toepfer, that practicing expressive writing is often associated with fewer health problems, decreased depression, an improved immune system and improved grades.