Put Pen to Paper This Month

It’s hard to remember the last time you got a piece of personal mail delivered to you, isn’t it? If you’re like me, the route back from the mailbox always includes a brief stop at the recycling bin or the shredding pile, and rarely does anything make it any further than that.

When a handwritten envelope surfaces amongst the junk mail, I can almost see a beam of sunshine gleaming from it. I’m just aching to tear it open and read the words of the person who was kind enough to send it to me. I have a great aunt who sends treasures like this over several holidays each year, and I’m always giddy with excitement as I rip open that envelope and release the heartfelt message trapped inside.

This month, why not let someone you know experience that same elation? December is National Write a Friend Month, so it’s a great time to dust off your stationary set or box of blank cards, find your favorite pen that you hardly ever use anymore, and just start writing.

This is the perfect continuation of what I wrote about last month, when we talked about the power of expressing gratitude. If you remember, practicing acts of gratitude can positively impact your physical and psychological health, increasing your overall happiness and decreasing a tendency toward negative thoughts and emotions.

Let’s say you write a quick note to a friend you haven’t spoken to in a while. You let them know you’ve been thinking about them and tell them how much they mean to you. You feel good as you write it, and they won’t be able to get it open fast enough once it arrives, just wondering what little mystery is inside. You feel the warm fuzzies for everyone involved already. Am I right?

I love #5 in Forbes Magazine’sFive Reasons to Write Thank-You Notes,” which discusses how the handwritten note keeps a fundamental part of our culture alive. We humans are wired to communicate in this manner, without any electronics messing things up.

Think of the classic love letter we used to send back in the day. (Who doesn’t love love?!) This form of communication is a pure pen-to-paper expression of our unencumbered deep feelings. Nobody oohs and aahs over love texts, and they certainly don’t get tucked away in the sock drawer to be read over and over again.

In that same Forbes article, there is this lovely quote from Florence Isaac’s classic book Just a Note to Say: “When you write, there is no response to distract you from reaching within and exploring exactly what you feel and want to say. There is no mechanical equipment to act as a barrier.”

You can start spreading this handwritten joy at any pace you like. You might want to make it a once-a-week ritual and sit down already knowing who you’ll be writing to. Or you may prefer to keep it spontaneous and write to whoever pops into your head. Just be sure to have your notecards at the ready, and get started.

If you haven’t written a letter in so long that you don’t even know where to begin, I assure you there’s no wrong way to do it. Besides your feelings, you can share all sorts of other things in a letter:

  • Share a laugh. Relive a funny memory you both share, or include a print off your favorite Far Side Laughing benefits your health in all sorts of ways, including by getting your circulation going and giving your immune system a boost.
  • Share a recipe. Is your friend a foodie? Share your favorite new recipe (giving credit, of course). Heck, you can even write it down on a good ol’ fashion recipe card. ;) Maybe you’ll start a new tradition of sending them back and forth to each other.
  • Share a book recommendation. You just finished a book that answered all sorts of questions you’ve been having, and you know your friend would appreciate it too. Write a letter and tell them about it. If you bought the book and don’t mind sharing it, send them a copy. Talk about their excitement when they open the mailbox!

Yes, writing letters to people means you’ll need to find out where to buy stamps in your neighborhood, but that’s not as complicated as it may seem. (Hint: ask when you’re in the checkout line at your local market.) And since the USPS has made all stamps Forever stamps, they’ll still be good next December. Unless, of course, writing letters feels so good that you use all of your stamps up. :)

Images from iStock/g-stockstudio (main), hedidwhat (post). 

Paula Widish

Paula Widish, author of Trophia: Simple Steps to Everyday Self-Health, is a freelance writer and self-healther. She loves nothing more than sharing tidbits of information she discovers with others. (Actually, she loves her family more than that—and probably bacon too.) Paula has a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Public Relations and is a Certified Professional Life Coach through International Coach Academy.

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