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Life by Design: Taking Stock

Life by Design
Taking Stock

I've been taking stock of my life lately. I have a lot of regrets about my past. I would really like to feel better about what has come before but I don't know what to do about it. One thing that I did realize though is that there are some people who really did make a positive impact on my life and I've never even said thank you. What can I do to feel better about my past and to acknowledge those who helped me out.
The Gratitude Visit
'If the only prayer you ever said was 'Thank You', that would be enough'_- Meister Eckhart
What produces more happiness - satisfaction, contentment, fulfillment, pride, and serenity - about our past? Gratitude!
Gratitude amplifies the savoring and appreciation of the good events gone by. Gratitude about the good things in your past intensifies the positive memories about the past and therefore engenders more positive affect and the sense of happiness about the past. Satisfaction, contentment, fulfillment, pride, and serenity about the past are emotions that can be simply and easily induced and are available to everyone.
Martin Seligman- the father of positive psychology- has developed the Gratitude Visit to highlight the experience of gratitude and this would be a wonderful experience for you to do - both for the other person and for yourself.
Select one person from your past who made a positive contribution to you and to whom you have never really expressed how much it meant to you. Write a letter (1 page is enough) telling them how what they did meant to you, how it contributed to your life and how grateful you are to them. Take some time writing this letter so that it says what is really in your heart.
After you have written the letter, make plans to get together with them in a not too public or busy place. Don't do this visit on the phone - if you can help it - (of course, if it is impossible to actually meet with the person the phone is better than nothing). Don't tell the person the purpose of your meeting.
When the moment is right take out your letter and read it slowly, letting your expression of thanks and gratitude come through while looking into the person's eyes. Seligman suggests that you bring a laminated version of your letter to give the person as a gift. When you are finished let the other person take their time responding. Spend some time afterward reminiscing and reconnecting with this person.
Later, you might want to reflect on your experience and journal your insights, realizations, and what it meant to you.
Who will you give thanks to?
"Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow."
-Melody Beattie

Mary Ann Copson is a Life Coach who specializes in helping her clients become aware of themselves as the creative transformational force in their life. You can visit her online at or reach her by phone at 434-263-4996.

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