Practicing Gratitude: Noticing
Practicing Gratitude: Giving

Practicing Gratitude: Acknowledging

21/30

As a child, my mom taught me the value of a well-written thank you note . . . and those early lessons stuck with me for life.  

Although many people look at it as a chore, I actually enjoy writing thank you notes.  I've always loved sending (and receiving) mail.  I love to choose my pen and the just-right piece of stationery.  I get to think about the person I'm writing to and formulate the words I'm going to use.  And I get to express my heartfelt gratitude.

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It's personal.

It's also the right thing to do!  According to Margaret Shepherd in The Art of the Handwritten Note, it takes some effort to express your gratitude properly.  Shepherd tells us, “Your thank-you note should recapture the smile, handshake or hug you would give the giver in person, and offer it in a form that can be read and reread.”  She also describes the five characteristics of a well-written thank you note:  generous, specific, prompt, succinct, and personal.

Apparently, writing thank you notes is good for your brain, too!  Research shows that written acts of gratitude have long-term effects on feelings of wellbeing and reduced depression.  Performing "gratitude tasks" (including acknowledging gifts through handwritten thank you notes) helps our brains to feel "extra thankful."  Dr. Christian Jarrett, in the Science of Us, talked about a brain-scanning study published in NeuroImage, “which brings us a little closer to understanding why these [gratitude] exercises have these effects. The results suggest that even months after a simple, short gratitude writing task, people’s brains are still wired to feel extra thankful. The implication is that gratitude tasks work, at least in part, because they have a self-perpetuating nature: The more you practice gratitude, the more attuned you are to it and the more you can enjoy its psychological benefits.”  (It's that "vicious circle" I talked about yesterday again!)

Finally, hand writing thank you notes in today's age of Facebook, emojis, and text messages is just . . . cool!  If you get a handwritten anything in your mailbox, don't you just rip right into it?  (I know I do.)  Sending a heart-felt, handwritten message to someone is the best way to express you gratitude.  According to Florence Isaacs in Just a Note to Say, “When you write, there is no response to distract you from reaching within and exploring exactly what you feel and want to say. There is no mechanical equipment to act as a barrier."  So . . . it's just you . . . and your words!

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This month, as part of my gratitude practice, I decided to be intentional about writing thank you notes.  I'm usually very good at writing notes when I receive a gift -- so this month, I'm trying to really dig a little deeper and write notes to people who've given me things that aren't necessarily . . . things.  So far this month I've written notes to a neighbor who serves on our school board, to my art teacher, to the underpaid-and-overworked Master Gardener coordinator, and (thanks to a bit of digging from my sister) to my sewing teacher from junior high school!  (And I'm not finished yet.)

How about YOU?  Who can you send a thank you note to in this season of Thanksgiving?  
(It's good for you!)

 

Comments

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Juliann

I also love to write thank you notes and notes in general. What a great gratitude practice.

Vera

Lovely! I did write a thank you note to the "sister" in FL (and her husband and dog) who hosted this year's Sisters' Weekend in October. One of my brothers and I also exchange hand-written letters all year long. It is fun to receive a personal, hand-written letter - a gift!

Vicki

YES! There is someone special at Alabama Chanin that I've been meaning to thank. Thank YOU for the timely reminder.

Carole

That's a great idea! I agree with you on writing thank you notes, especially the bit about them being prompt. I think it's easier to write a relevant note if you do it right away and I also dislike having the obligation of a note hanging over my head.

Bonny

That's a lot of thanks and gratitude! I saw the power of a simple thank you note when I sent one to my mammography tech, along with one to her supervisor extolling her virtues. They both called to thank me, and my tech said that it made her week. I have procrastinated plenty on thank yous, but it's really a well-spent and valuable 15 minutes to just sit down and write. Thanks for the great reminder!

Patty

I sent one today to the new friend (via a Women's giving event) who took me to lunch yesterday. I love the thought of a thank-you note and I love the ones that you're sending!

Bridget

I enjoy writing thank you notes, or really just about any note or letter - I also love getting them!

I don't send many any more, because people have asked me to not waste paper. Sigh.

Susanne

What a great post. Unfortunately, Thank you notes are becoming somewhat rare. I know as a child, we had to sit and write our Christmas thank you notes before we could go off and play with all of our "new" stuff!! Ah the art is still alive and so it should be. Thank YOU for wonderful gratitude thoughts this week. and enjoy your Thanksgiving with your family and friends.

Mary

This is a wonderful prompt for action, Kym - thank you! It's time to put pen to paper again ... and have you seen those wonderful Snowy Day stamps?

margene

I love the pretty notecards I find and the pens and inks I use and I like writing to dear friends, family, and people who do special things or who are special people. You have a good point about writing notes at this time of year. Thank you, Kym, for this beautiful idea.

Honore´

I write them tho' I'm not as punctual as I can be... (NTS: change that! ). Lots of great info in this post...off to check out the books...and make a list of notes that are to be written yet...
Dear Kym,
Thank you for this extra boost and mostly for all the goodness and thought provoking ideas and information you share via your posts. Know that are very much valued!
Cheers~
Honore´
Thanksgving Day 2017

AsKatKnits

Oh, this is such a great reminder for me. I admit that I am so horrible at writing thank you notes. And, I mean horrible! However, I hear you! And, thanks for inspiring me!

Chloe

Somehow I have missed this post, a subject dear to my heart. So, sorry to be late. To me teaching a child to write thank you notes is like causing ripples in a pond in that child's life which can extend into adulthood. I have seen it happen. It is one of those sustaining influences that speaks to so many facets of our lives: gratitude, the value of promptness, courtesy, social connectedness, self-discipline, etc. etc. etc. Thank you, Kym, so much, for this post. I am sure it will create many beneficial ripples of its own. Chloe

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