I was at the pain specialist last week and while receiving my 45 minute treatment I couldn’t help but notice that the woman two chairs down from me was quietly talking into her watch. To anyone over the age of fifty this is a highly suspicious activity to witness and images of a highly trained assassin in yoga pants flashed through my mind. A short time later the chair between us was vacated and I summoned the courage to engage with what I believed might be the only real lethal weapon I might ever meet. “Were you just talking into your watch?” I asked with raised eyebrows. “It’s an Apple Watch and I was just sending my mother a quick note” she said. I smiled and made some comment about it being “cool”, but I must say I was highly disappointed that she was just another woman in yoga pants.
The encounter stuck with me all week and I kept thinking to myself, with Siri, Cortana and an ever increasing list of apps and software that are available to help us communicate, why would anyone still choose to write a letter by hand? I’m sure that anyone born in the last 25 years would tell you that writing anything by hand is outdated and inefficient but there are very real benefits to putting pen to paper.
Here’s a Top 7 list of reasons that show why hand writing letters is still beneficial:
1. Research has shown that writing about things from an emotional perspective, even for just 20 minutes can have psychological and physical benefits. Which leads to our next reason…
2. When we use technology, we are able to edit and correct as we write, however writing by hand prompts us to pause and reflect on what we want to say before we actually write it. This time of contemplation and deliberation allows us to be more in touch with our emotions.
3. Sitting down to write a letter gives us a much needed break from being electronically connected. Any time you can get away from your screen for 20 – 30 minutes is an opportunity to reduce stress.
4. Hand writing a letter is a thoughtful practice that helps us be more empathetic and supportive than when writing an email or text. Instead of sending a quick note that just says “Congrats” we become more considerate and attentive when choosing our words for a letter.
5. Hand writing a letter helps us reconnect on a more personal level with people who live far away. Being “friends” on Facebook with a distant friend or relative is a superficial approach to keeping in touch. Sure you might know where they went for lunch today but do you know what hardships they are going through or what their hopes and dreams are for their future?
6. Unlike emails that can easily be deleted or lost, a hand written letter on paper is something tangible. It is a tactile object that can be held in your hands and makes the connection between writer and reader feel more personal.
7. Have you seen the beautiful stationery that is available these days? There is something about picking out a piece of stationery for a specific purpose that makes the practice of letter writing so personal and creative. These special pages are also a wonderful lasting gift that can bring comfort to the reader long after you have passed from this life.