People sometimes ask me, Noony, why should I write letters? After all, there are plenty of alternatives to communicating in everyday life – cell phones, texting, social media, slack, discus, websites… I could go on.
I hear that, I do; but I STILL like to write letters and encourage others to do so. Here are a few reasons:
1. It helps us de-stress. By taking all the mental clutter and influx of daily information and putting it on hold by sitting down with a pen and piece of paper, we are literally allowing our brains to calm down. We can write about one thought until we’re done, then another thought, without interruption and dings from our media. (In fact, put your phone on airplane mode while you’re writing letters so that you don’t get interrupted.)
2. It brings a smile to other peoples’ faces. After all, what do we usually get in the mail? Bills and junk mail, bills and junk mail, and did I mention all the bills and junk mail? I even get mail from a window company that’s already told me they can’t install windows in my type of home. But they STILL send me stuff in the mail! When I get something fun, be it a postcard or an envelope, I get excited.
3. You can make friends without all the pressure that we put on ourselves in day to day life. I’ve met young folx, older folx, folx like me and folx very different from me. I’ve made connections here in my own back yard to clear across the globe. It makes the world smaller and reminds us that we’re all in this together.
4. You can learn about other places and people. This is true whether we are writing in a grammar school class or if we’re retired and just having fun connecting with other human beings.
5. It’s good exercise. It lets us use our fine motor skills in our hands and arms as we form words on the page.
6. It can inspire us to make art, doodle, and create unusual letters for our pen friends.
7. It can serve as a distraction from stressful times. When we’re focused on a challenge like Lettermo, we’re doing something positive. We’re putting that positive energy out into the world. It becomes about connecting, and not about “being right,” or “getting things done,” or any of a hundred other ways we create mental clutter.
8. It can focus our thoughts. When we have to slow down and compose ourselves on paper, we might surprise ourselves. I didn’t realize I thought that, we might think. Or we might realize we very much thought that, and we knew we thought that, and we’re very passionate about that thank you very much.
9. It can be a way to bring solace to others. Sending thank you notes is a lovely habit to get into – and we’re learning more and more about brain science and gratitude, and its uplifting affect on mental health. Writing letters can, quite literally, be good for your brain!
10. And last but not least, I write letters because I enjoy it. And “because I like it” is a perfectly fine reason for doing something.