With Love and Gratitude: The Lost Art of Letter Writing
May 24, 2016
By Chiro One Wellness Centers
Many of us remember clearly the days before technology exploded. The house phone with a 22-foot tangled cord that your sister, who only talked in a hushed whisper, stretched as far as it could go. The doorbell rang on a Friday evening, and everyone jumped up to get it first. The anticipated daily mail delivery and the joy of finding a handwritten envelope, addressed just to you.
It’s a very different world today. The doorbell rings at night, and everyone looks up from their smartphone and goes into panic mode because WHO JUST STOPS BY? While some things are great to leave behind, like your car seat from 1979 (or lack thereof), it’s important to keep a connection to some of the habits of the past—like sending each other real, handwritten, thoughtful mail.
More than Words
Sending a letter to someone you love, or appreciate, or just met has a profound effect on the receiver. How surprising it is these days to find a handwritten card or letter in the mailbox—and most would agree, it instantly brightens the day. Pen to paper, those notes can: build relationships, console the grieving, offer encouragement, relay gratitude. And it’s so personal—the receiver can see and hold in their hand the effort their friend or loved one put forth to reach out to them. How powerful is that?
Recording Gratitude Affects More than Mental Health
Now, how about you, the thoughtful writer? The benefits to you are plentiful. For one, having and expressing an attitude of gratitude has been shown to improve your health—and not just your mental and emotional health.
Psychologists, Dr. Robert A. Emmons and Dr. Michael E. McCullough, have been researching the positive effects of gratitude for years. In one study, the doctors divided participants into three groups and had them write down a few sentences each week. Participants in one group wrote down what they felt grateful for during that week, the second group recorded occurrences that irritated them and the third group wrote about neutral events.
Unsurprisingly, the participants who wrote about gratitude felt more optimistic and better about their lives at the end of the 10-week study. The surprising part? This grateful group had also exercised more and seen their medical doctor less than those who focused on daily irritations.
Other research has shown that writing down and expressing gratitude can:
- Lower stress levels
- Create a sense of calm
- Help you focus on what matters
- Learn more about yourself and loved ones
- Increase self-awareness
We hope you enjoying sending off a note of gratitude to someone in your life—and we hope the habit continues!