Writing Letters Brings Double Happiness

Showing gratitude consistently appears as a major factor of happiness.

When you show appreciation for the good in your life or thank someone for what they mean to you, it not only makes you happier,  but the recipient as well.

A Harvard Medical School article reports that  “gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.”

While you can express gratitude through a phone call or a gift, the easiest, quickest and most powerful way to bring happiness to your life is to write personal letters.

In my experience, even people who don’t make time to send letters, admit that they love receiving them.

Handwritten personal letters build relationships in a way no other communication can.

When my children were young they grumbled as I insisted that they send handwritten thank you notes for every Christmas and birthday gift they received. From the way they moaned and whined, you’d think they’d grow up hating to send thank you notes. On the contrary, they even send thank you’s to each member of the interview committee following job interviews.

The greatest thing about letters, especially personal handwritten ones, is they create double happiness, touching the sender and the receiver.

Get encouragement and guidance from three heart-warming letter-writing projects.

Heartfelt letters create enduring bonds of appreciation

Lynette M. Smith, copyeditor and owner of All My Best, is on a mission to restore the art of showing our feelings of appreciation through letter writing.

She believes that even simple expressions of appreciation can return our world to joy and hope, one relationship at a time.

Lynette’s personal story illustrates how her book,
How to Write Heartfelt Letters to Treasure: For Special Occasions and Occasions Made Special
came about.

On November 21, 2008, my husband and I attended the wedding rehearsal dinner of our son, Byron, and his fiancée, Rachael. That evening, they surprised us when the two of them each made a special presentation to their respective parents–a beautifully framed, one-page heartfelt letter. Their best man and maid of honor read the letters aloud as Byron and Rachael each stood beside their own parents.

Each letter described what they had treasured about growing up in their family, what they had especially appreciated about each parent, and what values they had learned and planned to bring to their marriage.

We were deeply moved–all of us: four parents, bride and groom, and the rest of the guests. And I can tell you, those framed letters will always hold a place of honor in our homes. To this day, whenever I tell someone about that night and our treasured letters, my hand automatically moves to my heart. That’s where I still feel the experience. And my love and appreciation for our son who expressed his love and appreciation for my husband and me so beautifully has truly strengthened the bonds we already felt.

In her book, Smith covers planning, writing, packaging and presenting your letters.

One of the reviews points out

There’s a little bit of etiquette that goes along with writing a letter. For example, when someone dies in the line of duty, one of the last things you want to write is “I know what you must be going through.” No you don’t and hopefully you never will. Lynette Smith helps guide you through those tricky situations, even if you are going to simply write a note on a card. Letter preferred. You’ll learn how to write that special letter and even how to present it. In some instances, you may be encouraged to present a letter in person, and if possible, in private.~D.Fowler

Her three-part reference book Smith addresses  milestone birthdays; special occasions for school, military, romance, family, rites of passage and career; and professional and personal relationships, aging, eulogies and mending relationships. A special bonus is her selections of positive words, inspirational quotes and sentence jumpstarts.

Your letters are powerful even when written to strangers.

Handwritten love letters to strangers can bring you and them back from despair

Hannah Brechner, a copywriter and creative consultant, was fortunate to have a mother who communicated via handwritten letters rather than the more efficient, but less touching, email and text messaging.

Here’s Hannah’s story in her own words of how she got into

the business of broken hearts.

i began leaving love letters all over New York City back in October 2010 as a way to try to fight off my own loneliness and depression. the callouses still have not faded from the following year as i spent nine months mailing over 400 love letters to strangers in need around the world. today i run The World Needs More Love Letters, a global love letter writing organization that harnesses the power behind social media to write and mail love letters to individuals across the globe. i’m like a proud mama when i tell people it’s spread across 6 continents and all 50 states. she is my labor of love. where i spend my days

Watch the video to hear Hannah’s story in her own voice. If you feel so inclined join her global letter writing campaign at The World Needs More Love Letters.

Handwritten letters and cards from the Word Chef can start a conversation

Tea SilvestreWhen Tea Silvestre, marketing coach at thewordchef.com, signed up for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) that takes place in November every year, she considered writing short stories. But then she remembered how much she once loved writing letters. Next she remembered how much stationery she has neglected since she turned her back on it in favor of email, Facebook and all the cyber rest.

So here’s what Tea said next in her own words

The Great Stationery Collection Beckons Me

Which is where YOU come in.

In exchange for your mailing address and a few choice details about yourself, I’d like to hand-write and send you a one-of-a-kind letter.

It might be a postcard, a love note or a thank you card. It might say Happy Birthday or Happy Anniversary or my condolences. Maybe I’ll share a dream or a fear or the cool thing that happened to me that day. It all depends on what you’re willing to share.

AND (totally optional), if you write back — well, then! We might just get to know each other better.

And really — isn’t that what this ride around the sun is all about?

So, if you’re game for a little snail mail surprise from the Word Chef, use this form on http://thewordchef.com/2012/10/nanowrimo-project-postcards-and-love-letters-from-the-chef/ to add yourself to the list.

Showing gratitude, sending love letters to strangers or opening a conversation are all ways to bring happiness into your life.

Letter writing is always on time and always in season.

Whether you join in the letter-writing missions of Lynette, Hannah or Tea, you can be sure that your handwritten letters will not only make your recipient happier, but you too.

Make It an Extraordinary Day

randybroad

When one man, for whatever reason, has the
opportunity to lead an extraordinary life, he has
no right to keep it to himself.

– Jacques Cousteau

In March 2008, my eyes were opened to a new perspective
and life took on a whole new meaning. In that month, I was
diagnosed with Stage 3 Lung Cancer. Once the reality of this
news settled in, my first emotion was to cry. Then I woke up
from my first reaction to begin an entirely new and uncharted
journey.

This is how Randy Broad, author, speaker and cancer survivor begins his book “It’s an Extraordinary Life.”

Like so many cancer survivors Randy found that plunging himself into penning the life lessons he wanted to share with his children gave him a fresh perspective on life that made each day truly a gift. The one thing he feared more than death was the prospect of “missing” another precious moment enjoying his children and the wonders of everyday life. His focused shifted from thinking always in the future to focusing on moment to moment.

When I interviewed Randy recently on my radio show, Color Your Life Happy, he shared what living an extraordinary life means to him and gave tips we can all use. Enjoy the interview here Make Each Day Extraordinary–Randy Broad then share your thoughts about how you can make each of your remaining days extraordinary.

Forget Your Own Happiness, You Owe Me

Today I received the latest newsletter from Barbara Sher, author of Refuse to Choose!: Use All of Your Interests, Passions, and Hobbies to Create the Life and Career of Your Dreams and other inspiring books on living the life you were meant to live. In her newsletter she points us to the video above where she stresses the importance of doing what we were put here on this Earth to do.

In preparing us for the video Barbara points out, “You won’t hear one word about how you should treat yourself well, make yourself happy, put yourself first. It’s not about that. It’s about a debt you owe to the rest of us. ”

Even though I do talk a lot about making yourself happy, I remembered that I ended my book, Color Your Life Happy, on a point similar to the one Barbara is making in her video.

Happiness is the state of mind that enables you to reach within your reservoir of strength, joy, love, and peace to find purpose and meaning. Carrying out your purpose will help you and others. Being grateful will give meaning to your life and to the lives of those you help.

A bit of fragrance always clings to the hand that gives you roses. ~ Chinese Proverb

I challenge you to suspend your skepticism; open your mind to the possibility of happiness and incorporate some of the ideas I’ve shared into your own life. Commit to balancing your family and work, finding your spiritual path, insisting on a job you love, releasing your leader within and leaving a worthy legacy.

I believe that each of us is born with a gift to share. Life is not just about finding ways to give yourself pleasure while neglecting to share your talents and brilliance with the world. Embracing happiness and doing what you were meant to do are one in the same.

How dare you neglect your gift to write beautiful poetry and deprive us of the inspiration it would give us?

How dare you have within you a deep love for scientific research that could lead to a cure for cancer but bury it under a 9 to 5 job you hate?

Wayne Dyer urges us not to die with our songs still inside of us.

You owe it to me, to us, to do what you love, for by sharing your gift, your purpose, and your passion, you fulfill your life mission and leave the world a better place for it.

What is your take on this? Speak up.

"I want to be like you when I grow up."

dressup-resizedI hear this a lot, and until I read Tim Miles response to a similar question, I didn’t have a good comeback.

Now I do.

So you want to be like me when you grow up?

Okay, here goes in no particular order.

  • Get up at 5:30 AM every morning whether you have to go to work or not. (Yes, weekends too.)

  • Each day if you are able to get out of bed under your own power, or you are still alive,  say “This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalms 118: 24

  • Write in your journal, morning pages, reflect on your day, go for a walk, meditate or other activity that sets your intention for the day.

  • Stop watching the news. It’s designed to scare and distract you. Someone will tell you if you need to evacuate your neighborhood.

  • Stop waiting for the right time to do what you want. I couldn’t figure out the order in which I should have a teaching career, a family, return to graduate school and be an entrepreneur. So, I did it all along at the same time. (Try giving birth to your 3rd child on the first day of school in the second year of your doctoral studies and returning to classes the next week.)
  • Strive for harmony in your life by making time for work, health, fun, family, friends and spiritual needs.

  • Be willing to do things that make sense to you even if  not to other people, even your family and friends.
  • Learn to enjoy your alone time. Major projects require blocks of thinking and working alone.

  • When you have a burning desire to travel or go to some  event, don’t postpone it waiting for a willing companion. Go by yourself.
  • Risk making a fool of yourself or failing miserably at something.
  • Face frequent bouts with  self-doubt, knowing that you’ll regain your self-confidence and forge ahead.
  • Follow your dream for years even if you aren’t making any money from it.
  • Admit you don’t know everything. Take classes and read constantly.
  • Always be open to learning, especially from your kids.

  • When you figure something out, be willing to share it with others even when they won’t pay you a cent for it.
  • Accept the fact that when you open your heart to love someone (even your kids) they may not love you back in the way that you would like. Love people anyway.
  • Adapt to change. It’s the only constant.
  • Make a plan.
  • Abandon your plan and be spontaneous sometimes.
  • Show gratitude for all your life experiences, even the ones you that didn’t seem so great at first.
  • Then, when you are about to enter your 7th decade, share your life tips with someone who says to you “I want to be like you when I grow up.”

Valentine's Day Has a Troubling Side

woman on beach resizedHere’s hoping that you have a great Valentine’s Day full of love and affection. Unfortunately, there are some for whom Valentine’s Day is not a happy day at all.

In one newsletter by Joan Stewart, the Publicity Hound, two troubling concerns are associated with Valentine’s. First there are the wives and children who are victims of violence and abuse for whom Valentine’s Day is just another day of fear, dread and anxiety. Sheryl Cates, Executive Director of the National Domestic Violence Hotline reminds us in a Dear Abby column that these victims were hurt by people who said they loved them.

Then there are the cheaters who get caught on Valentine’s Day because they have to show up for both their lovers and spouses too. A Wall Street Journal article points out that this is why Valentine’s Day is a banner day for private investigators.

Most people don’t associate infidelity with Valentine’s Day, but it is such a sure bet that cheaters will be caught bearing gifts to the “other” person that this year will be the 8th Annual Valentine’s Day Infidelity Awareness Campaign. This campaign was started by Ruth Houston, Infidelity Columnist for Examiner.com. Her goal is to heighten public awareness of the connection between Valentine’s Day and infidelity, to call media attention to this seldom-discussed side of Valentine’s Day and to alert suspicious lovers that Valentine’s Day is the best time to get tangible proof of a cheating lover.

Out of this cheating sometimes grows enterprise. One writer was so upset at catching her husband cheating on Valentine’s Day that she started a website, www.revengelady.com to give advice on revenge, she says, so that you can bring happiness and humor back to your life.

Old-fashioned investigative techniques have been joined by high tech tools that help nail cheaters. The $199 Spark Nano Real-Time GPS Tracking Device is a 3-inch gadget that can easily be hidden in a car and broadcasts its location to a system that is accessible through the Web.

The pricier tool, the $497.50 Spy Matrix Pro, is a popular GPS for folks who worry about cheating spouses. Retailers of high tech tracking tools such as this report a spike in sales around Valentine’s Day.

Some cheaters fail to realize the long memories and far reach of social media and make catching them just too easy. When New York Republican Congressman, Christopher Lee, recently sought to hook up with a woman on Craigslist, he not only lied to her about his marital status and job, but he even sent a shirtless photo of himself. After doing a little research on him (apparently he failed to lie about his name) she learned not only that he was a sitting Congressman, but that he was very married with one child. The story spread across the media with lightening speed and lead Lee to resign within hours after it hit the news.

The syndicated reality TV show, Cheaters, that supposedly investigates and confronts cheating mates has been accused of being scripted. After a number of participants revealed that they were paid to help stage confrontations and even the stabbing of the host, we have discovered that this show, alas, has cheated.

With the overwhelming emphasis and money spent on Valentine’s Day, many have decided to attach less significance to the day. Many without mates choose to enjoy time with friends and family rather than pine over lost loves or long for the perfect mate.

The most troubling part of Valentine’s Day is that it’s the least romantic day of the year since so many commemorate it with chocolate and flowers out of obligation rather than celebration of love.

Love is kind. Love shouldn’t hurt.

“Love doesn’t make the world go round, love is what makes the ride worthwhile.” – Elizabeth Browning

“Love is friendship set on fire.” – unknown

“To laugh often and love much… to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others, to give one’s self… this is to have succeeded.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

The best place to start seeking love is to love yourself. Then express your love and appreciation in words and deeds for those around you everyday, not try to heap it all on a day urged upon you by retailers. You can still celebrate Valentine’s Day, of course, but in your own creative way with people with whom you share genuine and requited love all year long.