Handwriting: the power is in the details

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Robert Maurer


Handwriting: the power is in the details

We have almost completely lost the habit of writing by hand, yet handwritten cards and letters still arouse great emotions. The power of a handwritten "thank you" or the ink of a pen that brings together the letters of an "I love you", leave an indelible trace in the heart.

Written and verified by the psychologist GetPersonalGrowth.

Last update: 15 November 2021

Writing by hand has enormous power. A gesture that comes from the heart and is imprinted in black on white. A "thank you", "I love you", "I miss you" written with the ink of feelings. We have almost completely forgotten the healthy exercise of writing and how its immortal being on simple cards, postcards or letters awakens smiles and emotions.

However, this does not mean that our instant messaging, processed with WhatsApp and other applications, has less value. We are used to the good morning message, it is part of our daily life and keeps us united with loved ones. All of this undoubtedly affects our emotional well-being.

However, handwritten phrases also take on another meaning. They are long-lasting, effortless, and a detail that makes any message special. A prosocial tool nowadays almost completely absent.

We are not referring to the simple Christmas or birthday card. We talk about handwritten messages to thank, for example, a friend because he is precious and special in our life; witty phrases to say to a colleague; that post-it note that we put in the suitcase or between the partner's clothes to surprise him with an "I love you".

Or a sincere and nice letter to remind parents, siblings or grandparents how special and important they are in our life.

"My God, how many things I would like to tell you if I knew how to write!"

-Ramon de Campoamor-

Handwriting: the power to intensify positive emotions

Amit Kumbar, a professor at the University of Texas in Austin, United States, led one curious and surprising study on the effects of handwritten words of thanks. The work was published in the journal Psychological Science and revealed some sobering data.

Not everyone appreciates or grasps the power of handwriting

In this research, Dr. Kumbar and his team turned to a large sample of people inviting them to write thank you cards. In addition to this, the participants were asked to predict the possible effects of that gesture and then to report the actual response of their loved ones.

This experiment reveals to us that we often underestimate the power of this practice. To this was added the discomfort felt by many participants, as they are not used to saying thanks, to showing their feelings in an open way. Doing so in writing was inconvenient. The research team defined this attitude as a bias due to selfishness.

A prosocial act to increase well-being

For a large part of the experimental group, handwriting thank you cards was an element of well-being. This is because they imagined that their gesture would be received in a positive way. Predicting the effect made them even more excited. Sender and receiver lived this little experience in a very positive way.

The surprise factor was also exploited. Writing a thank you note, dedicating in writing an "I love you" or a feeling of admiration is uncommon. It is a pro-social act that has been experienced in a very positive way in many cases.

Without expecting anything in return, it is a genuine gesture of recognition

When we send a message on WhatsApp, we generally expect two results. The first is that it is read, see the blue check that validates the reading. Delay in seeing that symbol often generates distress and even discomfort in many people. The second result is an answer, sometimes even a simple emoticon is enough.

But handwriting a thank you card is not quite another experience. It's "an old-fashioned thing". We will not know when the recipient will read the message, we will not receive a notification, a blue check or even a reply.

Generally, in fact, he does not expect an answer, because the purpose of these words is reach the recipient's heart to get a smile or emotion.

The secret to handwriting a perfect thank you letter

What should the best handwritten thank you letter look like? Short, original, fun, long, with colored paper, in an envelope or better a postcard with a photo or a drawing included? In reality, there is no exact formula that works in all cases.

However, there are two indispensable elements: sincerity and simplicity. Words become precious when they travel accompanied by the charm of surprise. Our message can be short or long, but in any case the ideal is to write by hand, with a beautiful or ugly handwriting, it doesn't matter, it must be ours, it must come from the bottom of our heart.

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