“There is no time limit on gratitude. If you realize in the present that you did not express gratitude to someone for something that he did for you a long time ago, don’t think that it’s too late to express gratitude. Whenever you remember past kindnesses and favors done, express your thoughts and feelings of gratitude.”
– Rabbi Zelig Pliskin,Thank You! Gratitude: Formulas, Stories, and Insights.
Social scientists agree with the sentiments expressed by Rabbi Pliskin. More than agreeing, they have proven the potency of expressing gratitude for both the giver and the receiver – even long after a kindness was performed.
Of all the gratitude practices studied so far by social scientists, the most powerful is "The Gratitude Visit."
The practice is quite simple: Think of someone who is alive today to whom you are grateful, and write a letter explaining why you feel that way. (The person you choose could be someone you see often and have thanked often, or it could be the second grade teacher who inspired you to become a scientist, whom you have never thanked. Anyone living is fair game.) Be specific about what they have done or demonstrated and what it means to you. Then contact that person and make an appointment to see them in person, without telling them the purpose of your visit. If it’s absolutely impossible to see them in person, make a Skype appointment without telling them what the agenda is.
When the time of the appointment arrives, simply say, “I have written something that I want to read to you.” And read your letter. When you are finished, look up and listen to what they have to say.
People who do this exercise bring joy to the person they write to and to themselves which lasts for weeks and months afterwards. (Scientists stopped testing the results after the “bump” in happiness persisted for six months.)
The key is: you can’t just read about this practice. You must actually do it.
If you pay a gratitude visit and would like to share your experience with me, I would be most grateful to hear from you. Please contact me through the website Contact page.