Gratitude Practice: The Power of a Handwritten Thank You Note

Bring your gratitude to life with a simple note. How this little act of kindness is proving to have larger benefits.

woman writing a thank you note

Mailing a thank-you note to new acquaintances who’ve done you a kindness can serve as more than just a social nicety. Turns out, the recipients may instantly perceive you as a warmer person (you’re thoughtful, friendly, and so on), and feel inspired to get better acquainted and bond socially, suggests a recent study in the journal Emotion. And voila, a friendship is born.

See AlsoWhy Giving Thanks is Important

In the study, 70 undergraduate mentors at Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington, provided high schoolers with advice on their college-admission essays; those undergrads who later received thank-you notes rated their mentees higher on measures of interpersonal warmth and were more willing to stay in contact.

The Alternative to a Handwritten Thank You Note

Ready to write but out of stamps?
Thanking someone verbally or in a text message will likely have similar positive effects—provided the thank-you appears genuine, says Monica Y. Bartlett, PhD, the study’s co-author.

See Also Coral Brown’s Do-Anywhere Daily Gratitude Practice