Do you remember when you were a kid, and maybe had a special celebration, birthday, bar/bat mitzvah, and it came time to write your thank you notes? It even hits us as adults, for weddings. It seems for most of us, the memories of that experience get deeply engrained and remain into adulthood, making the task of writing a note seem like an arduous chore.
One of the first discoveries I encountered when initially sitting down to begin my 30 Thank Yous initiative was that writing and expressing gratitude took on the feeling of being an onerous task, rather than the simple, joyful experience that it truly is.
Recognizing this resistance became an important part of the “experiment.” Upon further reflection, I just heard my chattering monkey-mind, judging, criticizing and evaluating each and every word. Then it hit… the act of doing this is a great gift. It is in the doing that the gratitude muscle grows.
I know that it can be daunting to sit down and write a good, heartfelt note. I remember when I started the Write On project in schools, the kids were fearless about getting up on stage and singing, rapping, or reciting a poem. But when it came time to put words to paper, there was hesitation. They entered a free flow state, and it can be hard to even know where to start.
Now, more than ever, I find it so important to stay connected. As Lord Byron said, “Letter writing is the only device for combining solitude with good company.” What better time to start writing thank you notes?
Expressing gratitude is, it turns out, a skill that requires practice. Here are some helpful hints I’ve discovered along my journey.
1) Get inspired - A big step for me in getting exciting about writing was gathering my materials. I got the nicest note cards, I tested my pens, and I set up a workspace dedicated to writing these notes of gratitude. I even created some special stamps to make the process even more creative.
2) Get organized - Make a list of everyone you want to reach out to! This will help de-clutter your mind and organize your next steps.
3) Get personal - Many times, thank you notes can turn mechanical. We can tend to accidentally create a template that we follow for each note, subsisting only the person’s name and the gift. But here, the most important thing is to speak from the heart, and make it as personal as possible. Take a few minutes to reflect on how the person you’re writing to has impacted your life, and why you’re writing to them, specifically, in the first place.
I encountered some roadblocks in my journey of gratitude, but combating resistance was such a huge part of the experience. I realized I needed to simply set my intentions, and follow through.
And send with love.