Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Letter Writing Improves Happiness

According to an article that appears on the Kent State University website, "Steve Toepfer, associate professor in Human Development and Family Studies at Kent State University at Salem, says he has always been interested in the power of writing. In 2007, he created an assignment in his Building Family Strength class intended to show his students that being kind to others has psychological benefits. He decided to measure these benefits in a pilot study where participants wrote letters of gratitude to determine if there are benefits in terms of well-being for the authors of the letters."

His research shows shows writing letters of gratitude increases happiness and life satisfaction, decreases depressive symptoms.

Toepfer is quoted as saying, “The letter writers were instructed to write a letter of gratitude to anyone they wanted, however, the letter couldn’t be trivial and it couldn’t be a ‘thank you’ note for a gift or ‘thanks for saying hello to me this morning.' The participants had to write about something that was important to them."

“As they wrote, up to three letters, results showed increasing benefits,” Toepfer continued. “The more letter writing people did, the more they improved significantly on happiness and life satisfaction. The new and potentially important finding is that depressive symptoms decreased. By writing these letters – 15 to 20 minutes each, once a week for three weeks to different people – well-being increased significantly.”

To read the entire article, click here.
Bookmark and Share
posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM