One strategy for bringing gratitude into your life by writing testimonials was developed by Dr. Martin Seligman, and we think it's a great idea. Dr. Seligman conducted some research on this technique and found that participants felt great after completing it.
Dustin has a lot to be grateful for. He conquered his social anxiety more than a year ago. His college roommate, Jack, was instrumental in helping Dustin overcome his anxiety. Now, a junior in college, Dustin is taking an upper-level psychology class. His professor suggests a project called the Testimonial Exercise. The students are instructed to choose someone from their lives who made a real difference and write out a testimonial to that individual. The students are told to deliver the testimonial and read it to their selected person. In Worksheet 18-4, you can read what Dustin writes about his roommate.
Worksheet 18-4 Testimonial Exercise
I was given the assignment of writing a testimonial to someone who has made a difference in my life, and guess what? You're it. I felt pretty weird about this at first, but the more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea. I don't think I've ever told you how much I appreciate what you did for me in helping me overcome my social anxiety That first year of college was brutal for me. Your friendship saved me from utter misery.
You took me under your wing and pushed me to do things I didn't think I could. And you were a role model for me. You taught me how to talk with women. We had some pretty good times, didn't we? But sometimes I would get pretty down about my problems, and you'd kick me in the butt. You told me I needed to get counseling. Oh how I didn't want to hear that! But you were right. The whole first-year experience changed my life. I give you credit for so much.
My hat's off to you, buddy. They don't come any better than you. Your friendship is incredibly valuable to me. And now before I make myself totally sick, I'd better end this thing! But seriously, I appreciate all you did.
Use Worksheet 18-5 and the following instructions to complete your own Testimonial Exercise.
1. Choose someone from your life who has made a real positive difference in your life.
Ideally, the person you choose shouldn't be someone you're romantically involved with.
2. Write at least two or three paragraphs expressing your gratitude and telling the person what he or she did for you. Write out your testimonial in longhand — it's more personal that way.
3. Arrange a time to meet with the person to whom you wrote, and read your testimonial out loud to him or her.
4. Spend some time talking with your chosen person.
5. In Worksheet 18-6, reflect on this exercise and what it's taught you about the good people and things in your life.
Worksheet 18-6 My Reflections
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