Thank-you emails, texts, and tweets do not serve as equal substitutes for the handwritten thank-you note. When it comes to a follow-up note of appreciation, or a thoughtful note of gratitude, there is something deeply human and important that gets missed in an attempt to make the gesture more efficient.
There is a reason nearly everyone keeps the handwritten notes they've received in a shoebox or a special drawer in their desk. Have you ever heard of a shoebox that contains printed out thank-you emails? E-cards? I haven't.
The gratitude you feel while writing thank-you notes is also shown to make you healthier and happier -- gratitude can boost dopamine in the brain, improve sleep and relationships, and so much more.
So, to kick off your gratitude habit, here are 10 people to thank.
A child -- write a thank-you note to a child (maybe your child, or niece or nephew). Someone below the age of 10. There is something magical about getting a letter when you are a child -- it is so rare and so precious. Make some magic happen.
Your doctor -- when you're not sick, it's easy to forget that you might be if not for the last time you got the right medicine.
A roommate -- whether it's an old college roommate, the person you live with now, or the person who you lived with for a few weeks a few years ago... you've learned so much from living with other people. Surprise them with a thank-you note.
A sibling -- there are few things in the world that feel as good as sending an unsolicited thank-you note to your brother or sister. Don't take my word for it, try it out.
Your favorite ______ -- waiter, waitress, dry cleaner, grocery store clerk, barista, spin class instructor, Jamba Juice smoothie maker, Chipotle burrito bowl assembler... you get it. There are dozens of people who serve us with an extra authentic smile and make our days that much better. Affirm them. You will be amazed at how good it feels to thank the people that are too rarely thanked.
An elder -- write a thank-you to someone who is above the age of 70. Maybe a grandparent, or maybe just an older and wiser mentor. Let them know how much they mean to you and their community, and show them that technology hasn't completely swallowed the good old-fashioned art of the handwritten thank-you note.
Your favorite blogger/social media personality -- whether it's an "Instafamous" photographer with 200k followers or a mommy blogger with 2 million readers--you see/read their content, you love their content, now thank them. Send them an email and simply say, "Would you mind sending me your mailing address? I've written you a thank-you note, and I just need to know where to send it." I've done this several times and nearly every time I hear back right away. Tell them that you enjoy the things they post, that you love their style, that they inspire you. "Famous" social media users are bothered non-stop by requests for endorsements, but no one ever stops and simply thanks them without any ulterior motive. Stand out and be grateful.
An old teacher -- we all have somebody who comes right to mind when we think about our "favorite teachers." They are responsible for helping us become the people we are today; isn't it time we affirmed them for the amazing work/service they do? It is incredibly easy to get an old teacher's mailing address -- just email the office of the school they work at and ask, or send the thank-you note to the school's mailing address and address the note to the teacher. You will never regret writing an old teacher.
A childhood friend -- write a thank-you note to someone you grew up with. Someone who you used to cause mischief with, go to summer camp with, play AYSO soccer with. If you can remember his/her name you can find him/her on Facebook. If you can find them on Facebook you can ask them for their mailing address. You will make their week if you take time out of yours to write a note full of gratitude and memories. This really does something special for the soul.
- Your parents -- Mother's Day has come and passed, Father's Day is around the corner... but wouldn't it be even more meaningful if you thanked your parents on a day that you're not "supposed to." Every year there are 365 days that Mom and Dad could use a well-deserved thank-you note. Today happens to be one of them.
Look at this list and think about how much happier you would be if you took the time to tell these people how much they matter to you. Just think about it. Some cards and some stamps are a (very) small price to pay for the effect this gesture has on the soul and mind. What's holding you back?
Author Matt Richardson is the co-founder of Gramr Gratitude Co. Gramr provides a subscription service for original thank-you notes, and their goal is to foster habits of gratitude by encouraging people to write one thank-you note per week -- learn more about their vision of a more grateful world here.
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