Move Over Love Letters: This Letter Might Make You Even Happier

Move Over Love Letters: This Letter Might Make You Even Happier
Female hands writing in open notebook and bouquet of roses on old wooden table. Top view. Toned image

( – “Thank you.” Those words may warm our hearts. In fact, sending a thank you letter may mean even more to the recipient than receiving a love letter. People like to feel useful and valuable, and being thanked for their efforts may encourage them to continue giving to others. The person doing the thanking may get a mood boost, too. Here are some reasons why a thank you letter might really make us happy.

What Does the Science Say About Gratitude?

According to a 2018 study published in the journal Psychological Science, thank you letters may have big benefits for both the sender and the receiver. Before the internet, people regularly mailed letters and notes instead of sending emails or texts. Now, the practice of sending hand-written thank you’s through the mail or delivering them in person is much less common.

The 2018 study found that people who expressed gratitude through thank you letters typically underestimated how happy those letters made the receiver. Those same people also overestimated the awkwardness they assumed the receiver might feel. The same research also discovered that both the sender and the thank you letter recipient received a mood boost. Thanking people — and being thanked — makes us feel good.

Why Don’t People Write More Thank You Letters?

There are a couple of reasons people don’t write as many of these letters as they used to. First, sending an email or a text is so much faster and easier in a busy and fast-paced world. Second, people often assume that sending a handwritten letter in a digital society is weird or strange somehow. They worry about looking odd or out of place and about making their recipient feel awkward, too.

But the 2018 study shows that these people may be worrying over nothing. The awkwardness they assume their recipient might feel is typically nonexistent, and the idea of being perceived as “odd” by others is also not supported by research. While the writers of the thank you letters in the research study worried about things like using the right words and phrases, the people who received the letters were just happy to be thanked in such a sincere and meaningful way.

How to Write a Good Thank You Note

A good thank you letter is one that comes from the heart, but there are a few points to consider that will make your thank you letter even better. Starting with a greeting or opener is the first step, but it can be brief. A sentence is enough.

The next step is to thank the person. When thanking someone for a gift, be sure to be specific. For example, rather than writing, “Thank you for the baby shower gift!”, write “Thank you for the car seat.” This shows them that the gift is appreciated. Other things we might thank someone for include a service they’ve provided or a favor they’ve helped out with. Sometimes, we might thank someone simply for being them and for all of the wonderful things they add to our lives.

After that, add a closing. That could be a specific wish for the future or just well-wishes in general. Those are the main components of a thank you letter, but some people add more detail or personal flair, as well.

No matter how long it’s been since handwritten thank you letters were popular, compassion and respect for others never go out of style. We can all learn something from the 2018 research study and boost our moods and the moods of those around us by openly and freely expressing gratitude for them and the value they bring to our lives.

~Here’s to a Healthier Life!

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