Putting pen to paper and expressing your thanks for a kind word, thoughtful deed, or special gift is unfortunately a strange thought to many people. There are many people who feel they can confine their communications to texting and social media, but nothing shows true gratitude and thankfulness as well as taking the effort required to sit down and express your thoughts on paper. Yes, thank you notes do still exist, and for good reason. Why should you write a thank you note? Here are a few reasons for you to consider.
Because it’s the right thing to do.
When someone does something nice for you, saying thank you is not only the right thing to do, it can also have unexpected benefits. Not only will you feel good, but the recipient of your thoughtful note will feel appreciated, and that’s never a bad thing. Consider the person who takes the time to write a note to an interviewer after putting their best foot forward to gain a position they really want. If the interviewer gets several emails thanking him or her for the interview, but one thank you arrives in the mail with a handwritten note on personal stationery or in an attractive personalized note card, that person will stand out from the rest. That may not necessarily mean they will get the job, but the interviewer will definitely notice that this person took a little extra time and effort to express their thankfulness for being considered.
It’s good for your brain and body.
Expressing thankfulness in an exercise such as writing a note or letter is evidently good for our brains, as well. One study suggested that several months after completing a simple, short gratitude writing task, the brains of those who participated were still wired to feel extra thankful, proving that expressing gratitude and thankfulness in writing can have positive long-term effects. Other studies support that being thankful is good for both our physical and mental health. The more we focus on being thankful, the more we tend to be so, perpetuating a wonderful cycle of good thoughts and good feelings that have far reaching health benefits.
It connects us to one another and improves our relationships.
Those who take the time to write thank you notes feel more connected to the people they’re saying “thank you” to, helping stave off loneliness and isolation that can lead to depression. Thankful people are less prone to anxiety, anger, and stress, get better sleep, and experience more stable moods. Sometimes it’s difficult to speak the words but writing down the reasons you’re thankful for someone can improve your relationship with that person. Marriage counselors suggest couples take the time to tell each other in writing what they appreciate about one another on a regular basis. This practice forces us to make a mental shift away from all those things we wish we could change about our spouse and helps us focus on all the good qualities they possess, which increases feelings of gratitude. If you feel like you must vent first, write down the things that bother you, then write a list of the things you love about your spouse. Burn the “bad” list – there’s really no sense in keeping it around – and give your significant other a thank you note for all they do that makes you happy.
It puts things in perspective.
While there may be things in life that frustrate you, things you can’t change, and things that seem to be standing in the way of achieving your goals, developing a thankful mindset can help put all those things in perspective. Look around you and see whom you can thank. How about the mailman who faithfully delivers your mail every day? He may put thank you notes in people’s mailboxes, but does anybody thank him for a job well done except perhaps at Christmas time? Why not leave him a note in your mailbox saying how thankful you are that he faithfully delivers your mail? What about your hairdresser, dentist, doctor, drycleaner, apartment manager, or landlord? Yes, you may pay these people for their services, but do you ever thank them in writing?
It’s a tiny investment with a big payoff.
Thank you notes are inexpensive to buy, inexpensive to send, but can have long lasting positive effects on both the sender and the receiver. When we do something for someone else, like showing them a little gratitude, it costs us nothing but a few moments of our time and the price of a stamp, but the return on that investment can be tenfold. Your little note of gratitude could start a wonderful chain reaction of thankfulness expressed that could change the course of one or more lives. Never underestimate the power of your words and actions, and the effect they can have on the world.
There is no wrong way to say thank you if you are sincere and write from the heart. You may feel awkward the first time you sit down to say thank you in writing, but the person who receives your written thanks will be pleasantly surprised. In fact, it just might make their day. Challenge yourself to see how many people you can think of to send a thank you note, make a list, and send out a few each week. Be a force for good today and send out ripples of thankfulness that just might reach around the world.