Can reaching out during difficult times cultivate joy?
Author: Tessa Purcell, Eilish Hall, Heide Hackworth Date Posted:6 April 2022
Have you ever received a hand-written card or letter at just the right time when you really needed a lift? Did it make you feel so appreciated that you re-read it several times, before storing it away somewhere special?
With the rapid pace that our busy lives fly by, people are craving moments of stillness and reflection. But finding the time and energy to cultivate connection with others is increasingly challenging.
From pandemics to climate disasters, it seems like life is one big whirling snowball of problems these days. During tough times, and when we are feeling less than ideal, it can be especially challenging to give time and headspace to others. But studies have shown that doing things that bring joy to others will also make you feel happier.
It feels good to give.
Connecting with others by written correspondence seems like such a slow process. Sitting down to think of what to write, buying a stamp and finding a post box, not to mention waiting for the snail-mail to arrive at its destination. But it is precisely because we live in a world of texting and instant messaging, that makes writing and receiving a hand-written card or letter even more special - and it will be appreciated with more joy than we often imagine.
Articulating our appreciation for the good in others helps us develop a positive mindset, highlighting all of the good things we have missed while we were busy focusing on our own problems. When we sit down to write in a greeting card or letter, we also naturally slow down and become mindful, reflecting on how we are feeling, and find things to be grateful for, cultivating joy that may even last with us throughout the day.
Want to feel gratitude? Send a message of appreciation and thanks.
It can be really challenging to find the energy to give a proper thanks, even more so to know just what to say. But appreciation for others can bring out the best parts of ourselves - including empathy, gratitude and positivity. Here is an example of a message of appreciation:
“Have I ever told you how much I appreciate all you’ve done for me? You’ve made such a positive impact on my life, and without your support I wouldn’t be who I am today. Your encouragement has helped me to be a better person, and I’m so grateful for all of your guidance and understanding.”
Feeling flat? Try reaching out to someone else who might be struggling.
The world is full of challenges, and we all cope differently. When you or someone you know is struggling with isolation, or suffering from mental or physical health, a message offering support can help you to feel connected with others, and will give both of you a real lift. Here is an example of what you could write to someone struggling:
“Just wanting to reach out because I know things have been difficult lately, and I'm thinking of you. Although I haven’t always been able to be there for you as much as I would have liked, I want you to know that you don’t need to go through this alone. Sending you love and light at this challenging time, and let's talk whenever you’re ready.”
Card and letter writing can be a wonderful tool to strengthen bonds between people, even repair friendships and regain lost connections. With a little extra care and knowing what to write, you can touch the lives of those around you, whilst enjoying the benefits of more happiness, mindfulness and gratitude that comes with slowing down to connect with others.