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Writing things down is important. It helps you remember things, but it can also be important for other reasons. Diana Heyer read my article on gratitude and told me that instead of saying 5 things she feels grateful for each morning, she writes down every evening 5 things she is grateful for - she doesn't allow herself to go to sleep until she's done that.
I once met a motivational speaker who kept a book of his accomplishments. He had hundreds and hundreds of them - many of them were small insignificant things, but they helped him to maintain a positive self image, and to stay enthusiastic about himself and what he wanted to do. He carried the book everywhere with him, and was constantly adding to it.
Some people find writing a letter to someone and then not sending it can help them deal with pent up anger and resentment. When you do this, keep writing until you have nothing left to say. Do not edit or control your feelings - the point here is to express exactly how you feel. It may take several days (or even weeks), or it may all come out in a rush. Once you've finished it, decide how to dispose of it. This type of unconsidered letter should not be sent to the subject of your distress. Many people find burning the letter or tearing it into tiny pieces works well. Is there someone that you wish you'd told you loved them, but it's 'too late' because they've died? Try writing a letter to them expressing all your feelings. When you've finished you may want to keep the letter, you may want to burn or bury it. Take a few minutes to feel what the appropriate thing is to do with it.
A study from the Rotman School of Management suggests you might want to stick something related to your disappointment in a box or envelope if you want to feel better. In four separate experiments researchers found that the physical act of enclosing materials related to an unpleasant experience, such as a written recollection about it, improved people's negative feelings towards the event and created psychological closure.
When I ran a business success workshop for therapists, the final task was for them to write a letter to themselves to be delivered 3 or 6 months later. I would take the letters home with me and send them out at the due date. The idea was that the participants would put in the letter their goals and plans for their business over the time period. Knowing they had a letter coming helped some of the course participants to keep to their goals even when things got tough. You could try this for yourself by writing a letter to yourself and asking a friend to send it to you at the appointed time.
A University of Chicago study published in the journal Science (January 14 2011) also showed that students can benefit before exams. Students can combat test anxiety and improve performance by writing about their worries immediately before the exam begins. This lead them to scoring higher on the subsequent exams.
Writing is an amazing invention - those squiggles can mean so much. Use them to help you have a happier life.
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