It was a month after Christmas and just two weeks after having my second baby when we loaded up the moving truck and headed south for Dallas. My husband had received a late offer for an internship (in the middle of graduate school) that would give him some needed experience in his field of study.
We packed so quickly and left with just the bare minimum. Literally. We had 4-5 plates, 2 pans, a couple of Tupperware bowls, and 2 kids in tow. After the initial work of getting settled, I found myself feeling pretty lonely. We were several states from family, and I felt quite isolated with only one family car and a baby girl that was always sick.
With little extra time or money, I had to come up with something simple to boost my spirits. I decided to start writing a letter or card once a week to someone I cared for and appreciated. That simple act of gratitude changed everything.
Recent scientific findings link gratitude to increased optimism, less stress, and a better night’s sleep. There is something special about the written word. Texts and emails just don’t cut it. Individuals that write old reliable thank-you notes feel happier and more sociable.
My friend Marianne is a champ at this. I asked her why she feels it’s important.
“My mom taught me to write thank you notes. It was something that was probably drilled into her brain by her very socially adept mother. Any time we received a gift of any sort (even from family), she’d sit us down with cards and guide us through ways to say thank you and how to express true gratitude. My mom is extremely kind by nature and not unwilling to humbly say thank you and make people feel genuinely appreciated. I personally know it takes time and effort to do something nice for somebody so I think a thank you note is always appropriate. I try to teach my daughters to write thank you notes too. Right now they consist of pictures she draws along with words like, “You are cool. Love Grace.”
“Without prompting, Grace made us a thank you card for taking her camping a few weeks ago. It was one of those moments when I thought, “Hey my kids ARE listening to me! And two generations of mothers before me would be so proud.”
So in this season of gratitude (and hopefully all year long) surprise someone with a handwritten note of thanks.