Cards. A big hoax by the card industry to sucker us all into spending $5-8 on a piece of paper with a corny message inside. Somewhat true. Cards, in their most familiar form, are super convenient. Forgot your sister’s birthday? Stop by the local grocery store, pick up a sappy pre-written message in the card aisle, and even grab her a balloon while you’re at it. In just a few moments, you can scribble your name at the bottom, slather the envelope edge with saliva and be on your way. Instant gratification! But what if instead of racing through life, moment by moment, you practiced intention? Card and letter writing can and should be more than an obligation. Yes, I know it sounds daunting. Anything done with intention is work–work you choose. But it is so worth it.

Why should you CHOOSE to take time to write personal, handwritten cards and letters?

Gratitude. Countless research has proven to us all that being thankful for what and who we have in our lives shifts our perceptions and allows us to be more open to possibility rather than doubt. There are many ways to practice gratitude, but letter writing is a great option that allows you to not only acknowledge your gratitude but share it with others. As you write a birthday card, consider why you are thankful to have this person in your life. What specifically have they done for you or taught you? Do they have a certain quirk or mannerism or way about you that just makes you smile? Tell them. Trust me, unless you say it, they don’t already know.

Strengthen your friendships. When surveyed, people reported that hand written, personal cards make them feel more appreciated and recognized than generic cards. You have more influence on the people in your life than you may realize– channel that positive energy and be confident that the people in your life will know how much you care about them.

“When I receive a card, I know how much thought and effort went into the process. The writer had to buy the stationary, sit down, write the note, stamp & address the card, and take it to the post office. The simple fact that someone sat down and spent time thinking ONLY about me is humbling and special.”

3. Build community. Outside of your friend and family circle, taking the time to write a personal card or letter (for an occasion or not) can help you promote yourself and your values, help you stay in touch with clients or co-workers, and allow you to define the kind of professional you want to be. When writing in the workplace stay true to these principles: only write if you truly have something to say, focus the letter on the recipient (it’s not about YOU) and keep it simple.

Writing cards or letters doesn’t need to be reserved for a special occasion. You do not need permission. When you write a note to someone “just because” it makes the message even more valuable to both you and your recipient. As you begin to take more care, time and mindfulness to write letters to the people in your life, you’ll start to notice some incredible shifts. People who can lift you up and support your goals will gravitate toward you and the energy you are sending out into the world. Stay tuned for my next article on how to develop your own Writing Meditation Practice for Gratitude.