Our psychological well-being is affected by three main factors: our genetic make-up, our environment, and our thoughts and actions or “life skills.” Positive Psychology and the so-called Science of Happiness provide new insight on how to build resilience to depression, and in many cases, how to fight and relieve depression and anxiety naturally. This has been discussed by many psychologists over many years. One such is Martin Seligman who talks about bringing the pursuit of happiness into real life.
Seligman offers a simple practice that promises to enhance your well-being and lower your depression — the “Gratitude Visit.” Though to the cynical eye the exercise might appear both old-fashioned and “overly self-helpy”, it is rooted in decades of Seligman’s acclaimed research and brings to practical life some of modern psychology’s most important findings. Seligman takes us through the practice:
“Close your eyes. Call up the face of someone still alive who years ago did something or said something that changed your life for the better. Someone who you never properly thanked; someone you could meet face-to-face next week. Got a face?
Gratitude can make your life happier and more satisfying. When we feel gratitude, we benefit from the pleasant memory of a positive event in our life. Also, when we express our gratitude to others, we strengthen our relationship with them. But sometimes our thank you is said so casually or quickly that it is nearly meaningless. In this exercise … you will have the opportunity to experience what it is like to express your gratitude in a thoughtful, purposeful manner.
Your task is to write a letter of gratitude to this individual and deliver it in person. The letter should be concrete and about three hundred words: be specific about what she did for you and how it affected your life. Let her know what you are doing now, and mention how you often remember what she did. Make it sing! Once you have written the testimonial, call the person and tell her you’d like to visit her, but be vague about the purpose of the meeting; this exercise is much more fun when it is a surprise. When you meet her, take your time reading your letter.
This somewhat self-consciousness-inducing exercise, Seligman promises, will make you happier and less depressed a mere month from now. He gives many more tips at https://www.brainpickings.org/2014/02/18/martin-seligman-gratitude-visit-three-blessings/
For anyone who wants to look at depression in association with past events please look at http://www.ukcp.org.uk for a suitable practitioner.
By Sue Washington
Sue Washington has dedicated her life to helping people. From early days as a school teacher she trained psychotherapists to an exacting National standard. Her thrust in her later years has been to help people realise their power. You can ask her a question directly at www.suewashington.com