The Importance of Writing a Handwritten Note
I still have them–a whole box of them. My keepsake box decorated with blooming maroon flowers holds handwritten letters I’ve received throughout my life. Sadly, my mailbox is empty these days. Even holiday cards have disappeared. I guess Facebook eliminates the need for a yearly update and cheerful greeting.
Having My Students Write Them
I realized that handwritten notes and letters were a lost art when I asked my students to write a thank you letter to a guest speaker we’d hosted. I had to teach them step-by-step how to format a letter. After instructing them, I heard the clanging of chairs as they raced to get the best computers.
“Wait!” I commanded.
Puzzled, they stopped and looked at me.
“You have to handwrite the letters.” I added.
The confusion on their faces was priceless.
“You mean, we can’t use computers?” several queried.
You can imagine what happened when I asked them to sign their names.
One brave soul hesitantly raised his hand and muttered, “Um, Ms. Carbone? We don’t know cursive.”
I’d forgotten that writing in cursive is another lost art. Patiently, my paraprofessional and I showed the kids how to form their names in cursive letters. Before long, they delighted in showing off their penmanship skills as they gave us their autographs.
Not Understanding Why They Are Important
I had a few reluctant writers who didn’t understand the importance of expressing thanks in a handwritten note. It shouldn’t have surprised me. Throughout their childhood, my own children moaned and groaned when it came to writing thank you notes. My son struggled over thank you notes for days after his high school graduation party. They were sitting on the kitchen table when our new puppy jumped up and ate most of them. Let’s just say, they were not rewritten.
Here are a few compelling reasons to take out a favorite pen and classy piece of stationary:
“To write is human, to receive a letter: Divine!” – Susan Lendroth
You’re Important to Me
As computers and iPhones have become a staple in our busy lives, handwritten notes have become less common. It’s much easier to send a quick email or text. There is something nostalgic and sweet about a handwritten note. It means a person took the time to deliberately put pen to paper. This simple, thoughtful act can strengthen relationships, and it’s a means of communication older generations sincerely appreciate.
Emails and texts disappear among the hundreds we receive each week. A box of personalized notes and letters can be treasured for years. When I’m feeling down, I’ll pull out my special box. The handwritten notes take me back in time. I have notes of gratitude from students, letters from family members, love notes from old crushes, and even those small cards that attach to a bouquet of flowers. I cherish this box and love the feeling of dropping in a new note.
Makes Us Happy
Expressing gratitude in a note makes us happy. Toepfer, Peters, and Cichy from Kent State University studied the effects letter writing had on the authors. They found that writing letters of gratitude increased participants’ happiness and life satisfaction, while decreasing depressive symptoms.
An Act of Mindfulness
Writing by hand is a conscious act that keeps us in the present moment. We reflect on our relationship with the reader and choose words with deliberation. A handwritten note keeps us authentic. We’re thinking about our own emotions, the recipient’s feelings, and the thoughts we’d like to convey. Typing is a quick reaction. There have been many times I’ve written a text or email wishing I could take it back because I didn’t properly reflect on my words. Handwriting notes and letters forces us to take a necessary pause.
Like many people, I have come to rely on a keyboard for communication. I think this week I will write a handwritten note of congratulations to a student who was recently accepted into Michigan State University. Wouldn’t it be great if the younger generation could start their own keepsake boxes? Let’s all try putting pen to paper this week and surprise someone with a thoughtful note.