Well, to my knowledge, no such pill exists. However, there is something almost as simple, a one-off action that can create positive emotions, a deeper sense of meaning and purpose in your life, and a feeling of achievement and connection for a whole month. It’s called a Gratitude Visit. Dr Martin Seligman, considered the founder of positive psychology, developed this exercise to test his theory on happiness. Seligman uses the acronym PERMA to encapsulate the elements to human flourishing; they are – Positive emotion, Engagement, Relationships, Meaning and Accomplishment.
In testing his theory of PERMA, he developed the Gratitude Visit and he found that participants with depression had their symptoms significantly reduced, and this lasted for a month following the exercise, even if no other interventions took place. So what is the Gratitude Visit?
You are asked to think of a person who had made a major positive influence on your life but you had never expressed your thanks to them. Then handwrite a full page letter to them about the positive difference they made to you. Be as specific as possible describing how they changed your life and what that difference has made. Take your time constructing the letter and do it from the heart. Now for the potentially more challenging part…..contact that person and ask them to meet you, but be a little vague about the purpose of the meeting. When you meet up, read the letter to your special person. Try not to be so consumed in the reading that you forget to take notice of their reaction. And that’s it! This one-off action is likely to create all those positive feelings that go on and on.
If you have been feeling flat lately for whatever reason – toxic friendships, broken relationship, lost your job, finances getting you down – you can take this exercise to help shift your mood…..for a whole month maybe! I encourage you to suspend any awkwardness this may bring up for you about the actual meeting. I have witnessed this work for my clients in such a powerful way. It’s a big reward (can be life-changing) for “sucking up” a little discomfort that the meeting may cause. It is heart-warming to observe the recipient bursting with pride and happiness as they hear your words. And as the research says it’s highly beneficial for you too.
What have you got to lose, verses what have you got to gain? I wish you every success with your Gratitude Visit, I know you’re going to love it and benefit from it for the weeks following.