A couple of months ago I decided to write one thank-you note every day for a month. It was an endeavor I undertook as part of my bucket list goals. I wrote to my family members, friends, mentors, professionals in my life, and people I didn’t even know. Here’s what I took away:
I learned how to put my appreciation for others into words.
You know that warm and fuzzy “at home” feeling you get around your loved ones? That feeling – and the reasons for it – can sometimes be hard to conceptualize in a way that can be communicated. Writing my friends and family members thank-you notes helped me verbalize my emotions and gratitude around their character traits. For some of those relationships, it was the first time (or the first time in a while) that I’d told them what they meant to me in a coherent way.
I learned how to say “thanks” to people who I don’t know personally.
This one was an interesting lesson, and something I wasn’t expecting to gather from this undertaking. My boyfriend is really good at finding ways to show appreciation for public figures who make art or give something to the public, like musicians and comedians he enjoys. He is a big believer in contributing to their efforts financially or otherwise, because to support them this way is to invest in their longevity and acknowledge the humanness behind their fame. At points during this journey, I wrote thank-you notes to authors or professionals who had impacted my life in ways I normally wouldn’t express to them.
I felt happier having brightened someone’s day.
There’s something life-giving about making someone else’s life a little bit brighter. Often I received texts or calls in response to my notes that let me know I’d given that person something to smile about. Of course, my personal pleasure wasn’t the reason I decided to write thank-you notes. It was just a nice by-product.
I became closer to the people I cherish through vulnerability
Communicating my affection and appreciation for those around me made me feel closer to them. Having personally identified what it was about them that made them so special to me and expressing that to them was somewhat vulnerable. What’s more raw than admitting you need other people? Telling them they were meaningful components of my life brought our relationship to a new level of trust and strength.
I got a lot of closure and peace about my relationships.
Something I think about a lot is what would happen if one of my friends or family members died without ever fully knowing what they meant to me. Writing a thank-you note to them was the start of what I hope is a pattern of expression. I know that should we ever lose the ability to speak to one another, they would know I cared for them and valued them deeply. There’s a certain amount of peace in that.
What about you? What’s one way you choose to show people in your life what they mean to you?
Have a great week!