In my December column, I wrote about developing compassion in our lives, using some of Richard Carlson’s thoughts on the subject from his book, “Don’t Wweat the Small Stuff.” I had noticed another chapter in the book which had a chapter with a topic suitable for this new year.
The topic was entitled, “Once a week, write a heartfelt letter.” I thought what he said had the potential to be a New Year’s resolution, even though, at first sight, it might seem like an overwhelming task.
Carlson says, “This is an exercise that has helped to change many lives, assisting people in becoming more peaceful and loving. Taking a few minutes each week to write a heartfelt letter does many things for you. Picking up a pen or typing on a keyboard slows you down long enough to remember the beautiful people in your life. The act of sitting down to write helps to fill your life with gratitude.”
Carlson believes that if you try this, you will be surprised at the people who come to mind — individuals in our lives now, and even from the past, who are worthy of receiving “a friendly, heartfelt letter.”
It could include individuals you don’t know personally, but who who have influenced your life for the better and whose words or actions you have admired. It would seem appropriate for us to express our appreciation to them through a letter.
Carlson gives the following example. “Dear Jasmine. I woke up this morning thinking of how lucky I am to have people like you in my life. Thank you so much for being my friend. I am truly blessed, and I wish for you all the happiness and joy that life can bring. Love, Richard.”
In his closing comments, Carlson believes that there are additional benefits that can happen when we express our positive feelings through writing such letters. For one thing, it focuses our attention on what’s right in our lives.
But also, as he writes, “…the person receiving it will, in all likelihood, be extremely touched and grateful. Often, this action starts a spiral of loving actions whereby the person receiving your letter may decide to do the same thing to someone else, or perhaps will act and feel more loving toward others.”
Carlson believes that if we write our first letter this week, we’ll be glad we did so.
May it be so for us!
Harvie Barker is a Penticton resident who writes inspirational messages. This column appears regularly in The Herald.