Happiness Exercise #3: Best Friend Correspondence
When to use: When you’re stressed, you’re working through something difficult or being harsh with yourself.
Supplies: a journal or paper, your favorite pen or pencil
· Carve out 15 minutes that will be interruption-free
· Write a honest-to-goodness old-fashioned letter, as if your best friend was in your shoes, dealing with your stress
· Start with a greeting: “Hey, sweetie!” and “Hello, friend” work for me
· Close your letter: “Hugs”, “Love”, “Call me”
· Take a few minutes to re-read what you wrote, underlining or circling the kind words, encouragement and compassion you’ve likely given your best friend and may have been withholding from yourself
Why it works:
· Self-talk is powerful! What we tell ourselves and what we tell those we love are often very different messages. We are harsh and unkind to ourselves in ways we would never be to our friends.
· Your thoughts shape your experiences. If you’re telling yourself you’re failing, rather than learning, or showing grit, or trying something new, your experience is framed as failure. How you talk to yourself is the cornerstone for shaping how you experience life.
· Writing on paper rather than typing your letter strengthens the connection between what your mind is saying and what your mind is hearing.
Pro-tip: If there are words of compassion or encouragement that came through in your letter that you really need to hear, write those words out several times separately as an approach to more positive affirmations and self-talk.
About 15 minutes happier exercises
Why 15 minutes? Because anyone can find at least 15 minutes in the day for themselves.
Why be happier? Well, why not? To make a business case for this investment of your time, several studies have shown happiness drives success, not the other way around. If we want to succeed in building fulfilling and purpose-driven lives, a good place to start is to make sure we’re doing things to make ourselves happy. Each exercise is designed to be done anywhere and at any time. I like to actually leave my desk for a lunch break a few times a week – not too much to ask! Find 15 minutes in your schedule, and let’s get started. Let me know how your 15 minutes went in the comments – or if you have an idea for a future happiness exercise.