The day after Christmas – December 26th – is recognized as National Thank You Note Day. The timing couldn’t be better; you’ve opened all your Christmas presents and it’s a good time to write out some personalized “thank you’s” because emails are still held up as chintzy. But don’t just look at it as a thank you for a gift. The holidays are a time for giving and a lovely thank you note for someone’s time, kindness or words is sometimes worth more than anything you could buy at a store.
Gratitude is something that’s sorely lacking from social discourse – and none more so than now. According to Time, repeated research shows that being grateful is actually good for your health, mood, and overall well-being. It’s actually one of the easiest things you can do to better your mental health. And if you’re in recovery, there’s nothing better or more timely!
Moreover, the research into gratitude shows people severely underestimate the power of expressing gratitude and instead overestimate how awkward it will be, which often prevents them from engaging in the simple but important practice. As Marcel Proust said, “Let us be grateful to people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.”
A 2016 Gratitude survey revealed additional surprising statistics including:
Nearly three out of four Americans do not feel appreciated after doing something nice for someone.
49.3% of respondents agree that saying ‘thanks’ or ‘thank you’ has lost its true meaning of gratitude and appreciation.
Nearly twice as many participants aged 18-25 don’t show appreciation as often as those aged 55+ when they are thankful for something.
Males are two times more likely than females to not show appreciation when they are thankful for something.
Respondents ranked garbage collectors, moms, teachers and mail carriers as the most under-appreciated people.
Individuals in the Northeast on average verbally say thank you the most per day.
So what do you have to be thankful for? If you’re newly sober, there’s a plethora of family and friends you should be thanking as well as Mom. And don’t stop there; there are your counselors, your psychologists, and, most important of all, yourself.
If you’re a male, you might think to say thank you is emasculating. You couldn’t be more wrong; toxic masculinity is what got you where you are in the first place. Showing simple thanks to someone is what real men actually do; it’s chivalrous, humane, and shows that you can appreciate the kind actions of others. Getting in touch with your emotions is actually healthy and something you can learn how to do in recovery.
Writing a thank you letter actually puts you in more positive spirits – so if you’re looking for something mood-enhancing that has no bad side effects, this could be your new thing. Thank a cop, thank a teacher, thank your barista – anyone who has had a positive effect on your life should know about it.
So how to write one? This is a great time to invest in some stationary and a good pen. Once you have that in place, you’ll want to get some scrap paper to use as practice. Write out your thank you there first, getting both the words right as well as the spelling and syntax.
Each thank you note should be short; maybe three or four sentences. It’s suggested you write something personal and emotional about the person you’re writing – using “I” makes it about you so try avoiding it when possible. Comment on what you’re doing with their gift, whether that gift was material or emotional – and be specific about it.
Overall the goal is for you to be authentic, original, and sincere. And so once you’re happy with what you’ve written, write it out properly on the stationary. You don’t have to use cursive handwriting – print is just fine. And don’t feel that you can only send thank you notes to people who’ve given you good gifts; remember, it’s the thought that counts so you’re thanking them for their time if nothing else.
You can take it one step further, if you’d like, and prepare a gift jar (maybe homemade jam) to go along with your thank you note. For some amazing inspiration, check out these famous thank you notes.
Spend your December 26th writing out some much-needed thank you notes; the recipient will feel much better about themselves upon reading it – and you’ll also feel great just writing it.