πŸš€ Neil Armstrong's emu

a quarter century's worth of gratitude

On the 25th anniversary of the lunar landing, Neil Armstrong wrote a letter to the "EMU gang" - those responsible for building his Extravehicular Mobility Unit (aka the astronaut suit that sustained his life in literal outer space):

❝

To the EMU gang:

I remember noting a quarter-century or so ago that an emu was a 6-foot Australian flightless bird. I thought that got most of it right. It turned out to be one of the most widely photographed spacecraft in history. That was no doubt due to the fact that it was so photogenic. Equally responsible for its success was its characteristic of hiding from view its ugly occupant. Its true beauty, however, was that it worked. It was tough, reliable and almost cuddly. To all of you who made it all that it was, I send a quarter century's worth of thanks and congratulations.

Neil Armstrong

Neil didn't know it at the time, but he did a stellar job (πŸ˜‰) taking part in one of the best, longest lasting, scientifically proven ways to boost happiness in life: The gratitude letter.

While many studies had already found that gratitude was at least correlated with being more hopeful, energetic, forgiving, helpful, less materialistic, and of course - happy, Dr. Martin Seligman was the first to prove gratitude could actually cause happiness.

One of his more famous studies was the one-week gratitude letter challenge.

Participants had 7 days to:

  • think of someone who'd positively impacted their life

  • write a meaningful letter to thank them

  • deliver and read the letter in person

Some were given an alternate option if an in-person visit wasn't possible, however those who did hand-deliver their letter experienced the biggest boost to their own happiness compared to the other groups.

They were immediately:

  • much happier

  • less depressed

And the effects lasted a week, and for many even a full month after the experience.

Yeah, it could be awkward.

Or it could be healing, bonding, timely, transformational, and even exciting.

You'll never know till you try!

And if you love it, make it a habit.

Here's Dr. Martin Seligman's exact prompt for doing the gratitude letter challenge. I triple-dog-dare you to try it this week in honor of Thanksgiving!:

"Close your eyes. Call up the face of someone still alive who years ago did something or said something that changed your life for the better. Someone who you never properly thanked; someone you could meet face-to-face next week. Got a face?

Gratitude can make your life happier and more satisfying. When we feel gratitude, we benefit from the pleasant memory of a positive event in our life. Also, when we express our gratitude to others, we strengthen our relationship with them. But sometimes our thank you is said so casually or quickly that it is nearly meaningless. In this exercise … you will have the opportunity to experience what it is like to express your gratitude in a thoughtful, purposeful manner.

Your task is to write a letter of gratitude to this individual and deliver it in person. The letter should be concrete and about three hundred words: be specific about what she did for you and how it affected your life. Let her know what you are doing now, and mention how you often remember what she did. Make it sing! Once you have written the testimonial, call the person and tell her you’d like to visit her, but be vague about the purpose of the meeting; this exercise is much more fun when it is a surprise. When you meet her, take your time reading your letter."

❝

Gratitude is many things to people.

It is wonder;

it is appreciation;

it is looking at the bright side of a setback;

it is fathoming abundance;

it is thanking someone in your life;

it is thanking God;

it is 'counting blessings.

'It is savoring;

it is not taking things for granted;

it is coping;

it is present-oriented.

Gratitude is an antidote to negative emotions,

a neutralizer of envy,

avarice,

hostility,

worry,

irritation.

The average person, however,

probably associates gratitude with saying thank you for a gift or benefit received.

I invite you to consider a much broader definition.

Sonja Lyubomirsky

looks into oven

β€œHi cinnamon rolls.

Can I eat you..?

Okay, I can eat you.

Thank you!

You’re so cute.