Day 7: The Gratitude Visit

Did you find yesterday’s task of buying something for a complete stranger particularly challenging? If so, you’ll want to sit down, because today’s Act of Kindness is going to knock your water-resistant feathers off.

You’re going to do something called the gratitude visit. It works like this:

1. Think of someone to whom you are extremely grateful but who you’ve never properly thanked. It might be a parent, grandparent, uncle, teacher, or mentor. It’s crucial that this person is still alive and lives within a reasonable distance of you.

2. Sit down and write a letter to your chosen recipient. This is your gratitude letter. In it, describe in detail all of the reasons for which you are grateful to them. Be specific, and don’t hold back! The more detailed and genuine your letter, the better the outcome. Aim for a length of one-half to one full page.

3. (Optional) Go get that piece of paper laminated. This is for posterity!

Sounds easy so far, huh? Now comes the hard part.

4. By now you’re probably hoping the next step is to send your gratitude letter in the mail. Wrong! You absolutely must read it out loud and in person. Trust us on this! So muster up your courage, pick up the phone, and give your recipient a call. Set up a place and time to meet that’s convenient for both of you, ideally within the next seven days.

5. On the chosen day, stand in front of your recipient face-to-face and read your gratitude letter out loud. When you are done, give them the letter and tell them it’s theirs to keep.

We know what you’re thinking: “Are you crazy? There’s no way I could do that!” But trust us, of all the 25 Acts of Kindness contained in this calendar, this one Act is simultaneously (a) the hardest to do, and (b) the most rewarding. Quite frankly, it will be an experience that neither you nor your recipient will ever forget. It takes a lot of courage, but you won’t regret it. So get started right now!

And if you’ve still got some courage left when you’re done, come back here and tell us how it went in the comments!

Share what you did!

  • It was harder to read out loud than I thought…I got teary eyed!
    But it totally made that person’s day and she told me how great it made her feel because she felt like we were growing apart so I am so glad it mustered up the courage to do it!

  • One year when everyone was low on cash we decided to give gratitude letters instead. So we each wrote one for every member in our family in lieu of gifts. We sat and read them to each other on Christmas morning. It was the most beautiful thing! And way better than a pair of socks or another pajama!

    • Great story Louisa. Maybe you’ve inspired others to do the same this year on Christmas morning. That would be an unforgettable experience.

      It reminds me of the day we did the appreciation chair exercise in the office. Everyone had to take turns in the chair to hear what everyone else appreciated about them without replying.

      Talk about boosting positivity!

      • Hey Benjamin,

        Maybe you’re right. Why don’t you try it and report back?! I would love a skeptic’s point of view.

  • My Dad has come back from the brink of full blown dementia this year (the wonder of the right magic drug mix) and I know that telling him that I love him now and that I am so grateful for him in my life is a rare gift for him and me. Don’t let the chance go by – you may never get another chance. Truly a miracle for me.

  • I did this a few years ago at Thanksgiving and it became a life changing event. I wrote and read to my friend’s father. He read it to the family at Christmas. By February I had an Adoption Certificate signed by the entire family. My former friends are all family now and it’s made a difference in our relationships.

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Did you do this act of kindness? Tell us how awesome it was!

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