A GUIDE TO WRITING YOURSELF AND SOMEONE ELSE HAPPY
In these progressive times, there are people who have never experienced the simple pleasure of receiving a letter from someone they love or an absent friend. Texts, emails, WhatsApp, Facebook, and numerous other social media sites have made letter writing almost a thing of the past, and while social media is a great way to connect, writing a letter is a wonderfully creative way to really focus on a special person and feel gratitude for the relationship.
This can really help if you are experiencing a depressive episode, or if you are having feelings of loneliness and isolation. Writing a letter requires thought, depth, and reflection; this is different from an email or a text, which is usually brief, quickly written, and lacking in detail.
- START WITH THE PAPER AND PEN
Obvious though it may sound, this first step will set the tone of the whole exercise. Start with the nicest paper and pen; if you love purple paper decorated with pink butterflies then write on that. Your writing implement can be a Mickey Mouse pen, a shiny black fountain pen, or even a wax crayon; whatever it is you love to write with. It becomes about the process rather than the result.
- THINK ABOUT THE RECIPIENT OF THE LETTER
This person needs to be someone who will benefit from this form of contact from you; this is not about grievances. Spend time with this; it is important to really think about the connection and why it will be good for both of you to write this letter. Imagine the person’s reaction when they open the letter; imagine them smiling at your words.
- WRITE ABOUT MEMORIES
If the recipient is a friend from school, write about some of the funny things that happened, the best teachers, the boys/girls you fancied. If the recipient is a family member, write about fond childhood memories, places you visited, pets you had. This is an exercise in remembering happy moments and sharing them, so be sure to focus on the positives.
- SHARE SOMETHING POSITIVE THAT IS HAPPENING IN YOUR LIFE
This doesn’t have to be something major; in fact, keeping it simple is more effective. If you went for a nature walk and felt an overwhelming peace, write about it. If your baby slept through the night for the first time, explain how lovely it was. If you watched a movie that really resonated with you, recommend it to your recipient.
- THINK OF A QUESTION THEY WOULD LIKE TO BE ASKED
This is an important part of the exercise as it focuses your mind on someone else and what is going on in their life. When depression hits, we tend to focus on our own feelings, and it can be hard to relate to other people. You will know the person you are writing to, so you will know something about their life. Spend some time thinking about what they would love to be asked; for example, a friend who recently married might be really touched if you ask how it felt to find their soulmate; or a grandparent would love to be asked about their funniest memory of your mum when she was a little girl. Imagine how uplifted the recipient will feel when considering your question.
- HAVE FUN WITH IT
This letter-writing exercise is not designed to be any form of psychoanalysis; it is purely designed to turn your focus to a loved one, to make their day, and to remind you of the important bond you share with them. Simplicity is the key; relationships don’t have to be complicated to be enriching.
- FINALLY … DECIDE WHETHER TO SEND YOUR LETTER
Sometimes we want to let people know we are thinking about them, but it just seems too daunting to express yourself and expose any vulnerabilities. Once you have written your letter, put it in a stamped envelope, then put it where you will see it every day, preferably near your front door. One day, even if you’re not ready right now, you will grab that letter as you walk out of the door and you will send it.