I got a thank you note recently from a student I taught at my local college. She took my class each semester for four years (which was thanks enough) and was moving away from the area. She told me how much writing and reflecting on her stories had helped her heal some old wounds and figure out what she wanted to do next. Her letter made my day, it made me feel her gratitude and it also made me deeply grateful that I get to share what I love.
Getting a thank you note may be rare these days, but when you do get one, whether for a gift you gave or something you did, it’s pretty special.
I find a lot of people have bad memories of being forced to write thank you notes when they were kids and have sworn off writing them. If that’s you, or if you just haven’t thought to write one lately, I encourage you to reconsider. Getting a thank you note makes you feel amazing — but writing one feels wonderful too.
I shared 5 gratitude practices last week and one of them was to say thank you throughout the day. Why? Because sharing our gratitude is one way to be aware of it. When we practice saying thank you, we slow down enough to notice how people help us throughout the day, throughout our lives. There’s a lot to be said for saying thank you. And when you think through the why for your thanks it’s even more meaningful. And when you put it all down on paper so that somebody can come back to it again and again, it’s especially powerful.
Why Write a Thank You Note
Writing a heartfelt thank you note or letter of gratitude makes your recipient feel good — and you too. As much as I love receiving thank you letters, I love to write them.
- I love thinking about how I want to make somebody feel (usually loved, seen, appreciated, cared for …)
- I love sitting with the way the person made me feel through their thoughtful gift or kind actions.
- I love really thinking through why it matters to me, what stories from our shared experience will help me say that.
I love putting it all together and sending off a little envelope of love and gratitude.
So you can write a thank you note simply because going through the process makes you feel good. And you can do it for the person you appreciate or are grateful for.
Sometimes when we write a thank you note, that’s the end of it. We may not see the smile on their face when they pull the envelope from their mailbox. We may never know how that person felt when they read our words.
But sometimes somebody reaches out to say, “I was having a really hard day, and then I got your note” or “Thank you. I needed to be reminded that what I do matters.” Sometimes they say, “I re-read that letter you wrote to me today, and it lifted me up again.”
Have you ever gotten a response like this to a thank you letter? I have. One of my kid’s friends did a very kind favor for me and I wrote him to tell him how he made me feel honored, loved and cared for. He texted me right after he got the letter to tell me it made his day, that he felt my love and care as well.
I don’t write thank you notes for praise or thanks, but when I hear words like these, I am reminded why these notes matter. I am reminded why our shared stories matter, why words and gratitude matter.
The Gratitude Difference
There are so many ways to express gratitude and become more aware of gratitude in our own lives, and one of my favorites is getting it down in writing. From keeping a daily gratitude list in my notes that I can scroll back through to writing gratitude letters, I know that practicing gratitude makes a difference in our lives.
Want help with writing your own gratitude letters? Check out my free e-Book, 5 Easy Steps to Writing a Great Thank You Note. You’ll learn a simple, satisfying process that you can use again and again to share gratitude for gifts and kind acts with the special people in your life.