Thursday, January 31, 2013

Tip #54: Write letters (to strangers)

So, I have to say that I both miss writing a weekly post and enjoy the free time I now have on Sundays. I am then working on how to balance those two things. But it's a funny thing to observe that the deadlines I set up for myself do work, and procrastination is always at hand and thus, I said I would write two posts a month and here we are, the last day of the month, inching up to the last minutes before the (fictional / personal / why important) deadline expires.

In the meantime, I just saw this talk and I felt that it could really become a great tip. It has the added advantage that it is a short one to watch, just under 5 minutes. I found out about it in this  teaching blog (if you teach languages, that's one of my favorites). Hanna Brencher is a young woman who has battled depression in her life. When she was in college, her mother used to write her letters (not e-mails or texts) and she felt that those letters always comforted her. She decided one day to start writing nice, cheerful, kind letters to strangers and she just would leave them everywhere, in libraries, coffee shops, the subway. She wrote about it in her blog and two things happened: one, she started feeling much better, as she discovered a purpose in her life which gave her immense joy; and two, people started asking for letters, mostly for others, sometimes for themselves. From that, the wonderful webpage More Love Letters was born. In there, you can ask for requests of a letter or a bundle of letters for you or someone else, or you can volunteer to write these love letters to strangers.
Here's her talk (with subtitles for my family.-NOTE, if you get this in an e-mail you may not see the talk. Just go click on the title to go to the page).

I'm not sure whether I will actually do this tip myself or not. Maybe I will. But I was inspired by it because I think she is making connections which are so crucial to our well being. And I was also reading this week about a study which shows that giving time, gives you time.  This is what they observed:
"We compared spending time on other people with wasting time, spending time on oneself, and even gaining a windfall of “free” time, and we found that spending time on others increases one’s feeling of time affluence."
I think I may start by writing love letters to people I know, like the suggestion of "Charge your battery" in Tip #52. I have to say, I've been getting some of those lately and it does feel amazing to be on the recipient side. On a silly note, I have found a  "machine" version of the love letters. It's an app for the iPhone called At-a-boy, which was developed by Dan Ariely, a researcher in behavioral economics. The app gives you a compliment (which has been submitted by people - so it's not totally machine-like) every time you open it. Ariely says that we humans are not only affected by negative comments, but also by positive ones, and I have to say it is true. It's one of my favorite apps. I love to get those compliments, every single time.

Have you ever thought about writing to strangers? Would you do it? Let me know!


  1. Juicy, as always!
    1. thanks for reminding us of #52; I smiled again when I saw that Adorable Photo of your gentlemen.
    2. love the "time affluence" quote. Okay, how did it get to be almost 1:00 today already? so I am writing this comment nevertheless, sharing with ya'll, to give me a feeling of time affluence - LOVE IT :)
    3. Pilar, please don't dip below 2/mo. I got a chuckle out of your thoughts about the mysteries of procrastination and deadlines, and the effectiveness of even our arbitrary deadlines. NOT my forte, deadlines. Maybe I'll try a deadline or two today. Eeek!
    4. Leaving letters laying around for strangers is such a wild and lovely thought! Too bad I'm not taking the TIME to watch this video now (smile).

    Love (letter),
    from Jean

  2. i am totally gonna do this!!