An Open Letter to the People in my Life


I am currently working towards a Master’s of Applied Positive Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania.

My classmates and I were given the assignment of creating a positivity portfolio in which we were to choose a positive emotion to focus on and collect pictures, poems, songs, letters, tokens, etc that are meaning for us within that particular emotion.

This activity had a deep emotional impact on me. I would like to share my reaction summary with you:

I have chosen to create a positive portfolio based around love. I have been blessed with many emotionally honest and intelligent people in my life who, apparently, enjoy expressing their love through written word. Over the years, I have collected meaningful, funny, and heartfelt notes from those who have inspired me, or have been inspired by me. I have notes that share appreciations for my character. I have notes that examine my areas of growth and how they affect others. I have notes of crude humor that just make my laugh. I have notes of concern for my well-being, and notes asking me for help.

As I read these words, some for the first time in years, I couldn’t help but think, “How did I end up so blessed?” I struggle with meaningful relationships and emotional intimacy, or so I thought. Rereading the outpouring of love, concern, and admiration from family, friends, students, and even acquaintances leads me to believe that maybe I don’t struggle with meaningful relationships and emotional intimacy. Maybe I struggle without it and forget about its relevance in my life once I am not experiencing it first hand.

As I put together my positivity portfolio, I sat on the floor of my living room and wept. I wept because the love I had for the people in my life at that moment was so strong I did not know how to express my emotions in any other way. I wept because of how easy it is to forget how blessed I am to have people in my life, or have even just passed through my life, who have loved me so deeply that they felt it necessary to acknowledge my strengths and my areas of growth.

This overwhelming feeling of love crashes over me every time I open my positivity portfolio, or even think about it. Some of these people I will never see again, and I wish I could give every single one of them a hug and express the deep and meaning role they have played in my life, but it would not be realistic. Instead, I will cherish the moments I share with people and continue to hold these moments close to my heart. I will not forget again how blessed I am to experience this immense love for and from others.


To those of you who know me,

I want to share this experience publicly in order to express the gratitude and love I have for the people who have played a positive role in my life. I hope you recognize yourself in the shuffle of my notes. I thank you from the bottom of my heart. You have made a meaningful and unexplainable impact on my life.

I love and cherish you.


It’s your turn! I challenge you to create a positivity portfolio, look through it whenever you’re needing a boost in life. Let me know how it goes!

For a more detailed description of a positivity portfolio, please refer to Dr. Barbara Fredrickson’s book, Positivity.*

*This is not an ad.


Published by Fireflies and Jars

Hello! My name is Tracey Gerlach. Professionally, I am a Positive Psychology Practitioner and a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist. Unprofessionally, I'm a doubting dreamer who's just trying to make every moment count. Follow along!

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