Sometimes I like to reminisce about the good old days when I was young and had little to worry about.  One of the things I miss the most from my childhood is receiving a hand-written letter in the mail. Whether it was from a pen pal, one of my grandparents, or a friend who had moved away, the days there was a letter addressed just to me sitting in the mailbox were so exciting I could hardly contain myself. I’d rip into the letter and wouldn’t take my eyes off the page until I had inhaled and digested every single word.

Occasionally it makes me sad to think that nowadays letters are considered obsolete and antiquated. But should they be? I’m starting to think letters need to make a resurgence and become part of the American way of communicating once again. In order to convince the rest of the world that letters need to come back with a vengeance, I listed 7 reasons why you should consider taking the time and effort to write a letter:

To be personal. You can spend all day long Skype-ing with your college roommate living in London, but while technology has the means to connect us globally, it lacks that personal touch. It takes little energy to type a few letters on a screen and hit send, or update your Facebook status. But to sit down and write an actual letter and then send it shows the recipient that they were thought of enough to get your personal touch. A printed out email can be saved as easily as a letter, but it doesn’t have your handwriting, your scent, your style on it.

To express yourself. There is always so much going on in the world today, and everyone has an opinion on it. But how often do we take the time to express ourselves to an editor, reporter, or politician? Take the time to send a letter to those who have the power to take action.  Let them know your thoughts and opinions. Politicians, in particular, give more weight to a constituent’s concerns when they are sent via post, as opposed to email or a form letter. It will be empowering for you, and with such a unique way of communicating, your letter just may catch someone’s eye.

To rally behind your passions. Go beyond expressing yourself and give your passions a voice! Whatever you care about, whether it is politics, movies, books, running, animals, or anything else, take the time to share your passions through a letter. Even it’s just writing about your passion to a friend, or writing to someone who is actively involved in that community, writing a letter will help you rally behind causes that matter to you.

To make yourself and someone else feel better. At the end of a long day of meetings and workshops, the last thing I feel like doing is talking to yet one more person. But I find that if I take a few moments to sit quietly and pen a few words to someone—my best friend, who lives in another state, or my aunt who is getting on in years—it not only helps me relax, but it makes me feel connected to the people I love. And it lets them know that I am thinking of them.

To unplug. How many hours a day do you sit in front of a computer? Besides being bad for your health, it’s also bad for the soul. It’s too easy to forget that there are real human beings with feelings on the other side of the screen. We may dash off an angry or insensitive missive in the heat of a moment, not taking the time to understand the repercussions of our words. The computer makes it too easy to do this, and it can damage your relationships. Instead, sit down and write out a letter. You may or may not send it, but the time it takes to write out your thoughts can do wonders to ease whatever is bothering you. It also gives you a chance to edit and rework your words, since you aren’t tempted to just hit the send button.

To say thanks. Back when you were growing up, it was probably unheard of to receive a gift and not acknowledge it with a handwritten thank you. Take the time to write them again, and you’ll feel like a better person and more worthy of being on the receiving end of generosity. It’s not just proper etiquette, it’s good karma.

To express sympathy. Upon hearing of a death, it can be difficult to find a way to express your grief and sympathy. There’s nothing that will be as comforting and touching to the bereaved than taking the time to write out your sympathies. When a favorite uncle of mine passed away a few months ago, I wasn’t able to attend his funeral. I sent a card in which I had written about my most cherished memory of him. My aunt told me it meant a lot to her when, after everyone had left and she had a moment of peace, she opened up the card and was reminded again of how wonderful and how loved he was.

Do you have any wonderful memories of letters?  Was your childhood filled with hand written notes that really meant something?  I am making a renewed effort to send personalized notes to family and friends, and I can’t wait to experience the response. How about you?

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2 Responses

  1. Karen

    Wow. Thank you for taking the time to write this. It’s phenomenal. I don’t know about all those silent people who read this & didn’t share their thoughts, opinions, or ideas, but I just want to say that you have reminded me & inspired me. I agree with all those who claim that writing by hand is of paramount importance. The whole history of the world has been recorded by hand until up to a few short decades ago; why do people have the audacity to think that just because we now have machines that we don’t need to use our most personal form of self-expression anymore? Isn’t that a little like throwing the baby out with the bath water?

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