Finding balance in a chaotic world

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December 2017
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As a child, the day after Christmas was always a struggle. The reason being, my parents made me write thank-you notes, with the implicit threat that if I didn’t, there would be less presents next year. I remember agonizing over writing them. Funny writing and mailing my Christmas list wasn’t nearly as difficult. As I grew older, the task did not get any easier. In fact in my early twenties I constructed a form thank you letter with a mail merge just to make things go faster. So why now do I find myself designing custom cards and hand writing thank you notes for everything from gifts received to dinner invites?


Few things are more powerful than the written word. The act of writing something down creates permanence. Signing your name to a piece of paper says “I created and agree with everything this says.” God himself wrote down the 10 commandments to give to Israel. There is something very special about the written word.


In this day of email and texting, it would seem like written communication is stronger than ever, OMG RLY? But the truth is, the well crafted letter is a rarity. When congress is asked what the most influential method their constituents have on them, the written and signed letter is far and away the most important. A form email sent has far less impact than someone typing up their thoughts and mailing them.


This really hit home for me when I received an innocent looking card in the mail one day. Opening it up, it said Thank you embossed on the cover. Inside the card was a quick handwritten message from my friend John. In it, he simply thanked me for my friendship. The impact of that card on me was profound. I see John a couple of times a week usually and we talk more than that. He lives less than a mile from my house. This wasn’t a card to get back in touch with me. He could easily call me or wait until we got together to say those things, but instead he wrote them down and actually mailed it to me. That card cemented the power of a simple written word in my mind.


The beauty of the thank you card is that it doesn’t have to be long. The cards themselves are typically small so the room you have to write in is automatically limited. I am always specific about what I’m thanking people for and if it is for a list of things, pick one or two out that you most appreciate. I also prefer to handwrite the thank you note as I feel it is more personal. You could type it up and print it out if you desire, but be sure to sign it. Overall, I’d be surprised if writing a note takes you more than 10 minutes to do and that includes spending 5 minutes just looking up their address. For that small amount of time, the impact you can make is enormous.


So who do you need to thank? Have you been invited to a party or dinner recently? How about someone who is always there for you? Grab your pen and let them know you appreciate them.