Day 50: Write A Letter of Appreciation

For day 50 of #100DaysOfDiscomfort, I wrote a letter to an old teacher from my time in the Comedy Studies program at Columbia College.

Back Story

I haven’t been involved in the comedy scene in a while, but recently I hung out with some old Comedy Studies friends. They told me a story that I found disappointing.

Some years after my cohort graduated, a student in a new cohort wrote a tell-all blog about their experience. They named names and insulted teachers and students. At least, that’s the story I got.

I thought, How distasteful! How inconsiderate!

So what can one do when they hear terrible news? Spread it, of course!

My first instinct was to tell my spouse about the hot gossip. And then I wanted to tell all of my old Comedy Studies friends!

But why? Why do I want to spread bad news? We humans are inappropriately addicted to bad news. My mortal humanity was showing.

Instead of complaining, I realized I should do something constructive. Clearly, I disliked that this student publicly criticized the program. So, to balance things out, I should insert into the world something great! Appreciation! For every bad, put out more good!

I decided to hand write a letter of appreciation to my old teacher from Comedy Studies. I enjoyed every single teacher from that program, but I’m starting with one teacher who I really appreciated and who got some flak from this blogger.

How It Went

I really enjoyed this! Rarely, do I write a hand written letter, let  alone to a teacher I hadn’t spoken to in 6 years. The idea that the actual physical letter would end up in the teacher’s hands was a really cool feeling.

The exercise pushed me to conjure up fond memories and compliments, something I don’t normally think about. I surprised myself with what I remembered. I realized I really did appreciate the affect this person had on me.

What a great practice, trying to think of ways we appreciate someone? I often do this after a person is dead so I can write a great eulogy. But I should express these things to people while they’re alive. It will brighten their day and make me feel more grateful for the people in my life.

Technical Difficulties 

Unexpectedly, the most difficult part of this challenge was the technical side of this low tech process. Once my letter as written, where in the world do I send it? 

How do you sneakily find a person’s address? I’m still working on this part, so the letter has yet to be sent.

What Did I Learn

  1. When you see bad in the world, drown it out with good. Don’t fuel it by spreading it around!
  2. People have a tendency to voice criticism and withhold appreciation. There’s nothing wrong with honest and respectful feedback, but most people don’t take care to deliver criticism constructively. As a result, poor criticism is pervasive. Instead, contribute to world-wide appreciation. When necessary, be constructive and respectful with your feedback.
  3. Appreciation is a great exercise. It can help you see the world with more gratitude. 

For more ideas on how to make the world better, check out this list of 50 generous ideas.

Questions For Readers:

  1. Is complaining or sharing bad news ever beneficial? When, or why not?
  2. In what ways are you addicted to outrage or bad news?
  3. Share a story of when you or someone else showed appreciation.
  4. Share a story of when you or someone else responded with positivity in response to bad news.
  5. Challenge: Send someone a message of appreciation by mail, phone, or digital. Report back.

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