The Power of Thank You Notes

By Christine Murray, HRI Director

As children, many of us were taught to send thank you notes after we received gifts for our birthdays and holidays. When I was a kid, most of my notes followed a basic formula:

“Dear ____________,

Thank you for the ________________. I love it because ______________.

I love you and miss you and hope to see you soon.

Thank you again!

Love, Christine

Looking back on those notes, I’m a little embarrassed by how simple and formulaic they were, but mostly I’m thankful that my parents instilled in me a value for thanking people when they did something nice for me.

Life is so different today, with so many different ways to send thank you “notes” instead of actually handwriting them. Today, many “thank you” notes are written over email or even a quick text message. These aren’t bad ways to express thanks–In fact, they can allow you creative ways to use technology, such as sending a photo or video using the gift, which wouldn’t be as easy with a handwritten letter. These forms of technology aren’t just great for saying thanks for a gift, but also expressing other appreciations for the important people in your life.

But, have you ever stopped to think how much more of an impact a handwritten thank you note has in today’s high-tech world? Handwriting a note is still a pretty simple task, but in today’s world, it really stands out because of the extra effort it takes beyond communicating electronically.

Recently, I had the blessing of receiving a thoughtful handwritten note from a close friend. It came out of the blue–I hadn’t given her a gift or anything like that. She just wanted to say thanks for my friendship. That note probably took her a few minutes to write, but it truly made my week. I will keep it and treasure it forever.

If you write a personal note to thank someone for the impact they’ve had on your life, you’re almost guaranteed to make the other person’s day, and you’ll feel better for having spent a few minutes reflecting on your gratitude for what the other person means to you. So, what are you waiting for? Grab a pen, a piece of paper (even better if it’s nice stationary or a nice note card!), and get writing!

Digging Deeper for Gratitude

Yesterday, we looked at the importance of being intentional about noticing things about your relationships and other people that you appreciate. Over time, relationships can fall into routines, so it becomes even more important to dig deeper to discover new levels of appreciation in your relationships.

Dig deeper to discover new things to treasure in your relationships. Look beyond the things the other person does and get to know their inner thoughts and feelings, as well as their past experiences. Instead of just appreciating what they do for you and others, reflect on how that person has overcome past challenges in their life to make them the person they are today. Acknowledge the things about who they are that make them so important to you–and be sure to let them know. Deep-level appreciation has the power to transform and strengthen even the strongest, healthiest relationships!

Notice First

Have you noticed how many distractions people face today? People today are busy! With all the demands on our time and attention, it’s no wonder that it’s easy to take for granted the more subtle, less demanding parts of life and relationships. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I feel like I’m pulled in so many directions, that if something’s not screaming for my attention, it’s hard to notice it!

The good things in relationships, and the qualities that you value in other people, are often not the things that are screaming for your attention. Be careful that you don’t start to take those positive qualities of your relationships and other people for granted. Commit to being intentional about noticing these things, and then looking carefully for them on a regular basis. You may be surprised how much you have to be thankful for when you start looking!

Transforming Your Relationships With Gratitude

It’s Thanksgiving week! Have you considered how cultivating a perspective of thankfulness and gratitude can transform your relationships? By focusing on the positive things that you appreciate about your relationships and the people close to you, you can strengthen your relationships and help them to grow stronger.

All this week, we’re sharing tips on how to practice appreciation within your relationships with the people that are important to you. As you think of all the things you’re thankful for this week, consider how you can put this thankfulness to work to foster happier, healthier relationships long after this year’s Thanksgiving holiday has passed!