100 Ways To Live A Better Life – 63. Write A Thank You Letter

You can send it or not, the real catch is to write it. Pick someone who helped you in the past. Start writing the letter and say everything you wanted to say to that person. It will make you understand what are you really grateful for in your life.

Writing a thank you letter will bring up one of the most beautiful parts in your self, the grateful one. Whenever you express gratitude towards somebody else, by an unknown mechanism, that gratitude comes back to you somehow.

Most of the time, writing a thank you letter is also just a trigger for more thoughts and emotions which are waiting to be expressed. Once you started to write, you will write much more than you intended. And that?s a good sign.

If you think it will expose too much of you, try writing a thank you letter to yourself first and see how you feel about it. 

How To Write A Thank You Letter

As you may already guess, this “thank you letter” thing is very closely related to journaling.

I kept journals, in various forms, for years, and I still use a custom form of journaling. It’s a bit different than a linear journal that you complete at the end of the day, because it gets written during the day, every few hours. But the main goal is the same: to keep me anchored, present and aware. Also, to give me a sense of perspective, like in witnessing my own actions from a distance.

There’s a very interesting thing that happens when you start to write this type of journal. Because you don’t write it at the end of the day, when you’re already disconnected. You do it during the day. You have to willingly disconnect from the outside world and then immerse for a few minutes in your journal word, write whatever you think is significant, then sign out. It works in small drops, small moments of detachment. I think it’s this continuous fragmentation of the outside world that makes this journal work so great. Because, believe me, it works really great.

I tried various forms, most of them based on 30 days challenges. And all of them had in common this fragmentation thing. Basically, for all the 30 days challenges in which I tried this, I set up an alarm on my phone, and at various intervals during the day (3 minimum, 6 at the time of writing this article) I stopped from whatever I was doing at the moment and wrote in journal whatever I set myself to.

Sometimes it was about a specific issue that I wanted to solve, a thought or a project that I wanted to focus on. Other times it may be something more general, like trying to identify a specific behavior I’m working on.

The journaling I’m practicing now is focused on a few “master habits” I try to implement  during the day. So, every 2 hours I write something in my phone, related to that specific thing I’m trying to turn into a habit.

Some of these habits are related to the way I interact with other people. And this is where the “thank you letter” thing comes into action.

Sometimes, in my journal, I write about things I did to other people, or things that other people did to me. And I start to talk to those people, although they, obviously, are not present. But by writing down my thoughts, my impressions, my memories about them, I recreate them. I recreate the contexts in which we interacted.

Before continuing, I’m going to tell you that my current form of journaling is the most consistent and rewarding form of journaling I tried so far. I’m using it for almost 100 days now, so it’s well over the 30 days barrier that is usually imposed during the 30 days challenges. In other words, it works.

So, here’s what I realized, after almost 100 days of journaling in this way.

Every time I have an unpleasant interaction with somebody, something good comes out of it, but with a very specific condition: that I’m am aware and observant.

Yeah, I know it sounds odd, but that’s the truth. Let’s say I have an interaction with a potential client, and that client is trying to get from me more than I’m willing to give to him, for his money. He’s trying to fool me – either by innocence, or just because he feels like it. And he is being very, very insistent. In the beginning, there is a lot of frustration emerging. As I realize the other person is really trying to get more than he can politely get, I feel I’m not respected, that my boundaries are ignored and that I have to repel that human being from my current surroundings.

But if I manage to stay calm, to just observe the situation, to not get attached to any outcome of the discussion, something magical happen: I discover something important about myself. In this case, I discover that I really need only a certain type of clients. I don’t need them all.

What looked like a stupid bargaining over a few dozens of euros, is in fact a precious signal that I’m getting from the other person, it’s a flag that says: “you don’t want me, you want a client who really needs what you sell, for the proper price, in the proper conditions. You don’t want me, pal.”

And I’m very happy. Of course, I manage to be extremely polite and to walk the guy to the door explaining to him that we simply won’t do business together. Some of them understand, some of them don’t. But everybody leaves better than before.

Believe it or not, these are the people to whom I send thank you letters in my journal. I thank them for being challenging to me, I thank them for forcing me to watch out for my values, I thank them for making me aware and more powerful.

Most of the time, the people who annoy us the most are the ones who deserve the most our thank you letters.

further reading

33 Ways To End Your Day

Social Networking versus Reali Life Relationships

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