How are we doing with our New Year’s resolution to do good for others? To do more for people than they do for you, to the point they thank you in writing?

Hey, thank you, Carol. Hello everyone and welcome to episode 91, Keeping Your Resolution to Do Good for Others.

We are 41 days into 2021, and I thought it would be interesting to see how we’re all doing with the one new year’s resolution we talked about in episode 87: “Make it a Relational New Year’s Resolution.” If you’re new to the podcast, you might want to go back and listen to it. It aired on January 13th. You’ll find a link to it in the show notes.

This relational resolution I spoke about was to resolve to get written “Thank You” notes from as many people as you can this year. It's to do good for others to the point people thank you in writing.

Today I want to share the results I’ve seen and heard so far.

The numbers thus far
  • As of the date of this recording, and together with my wife Janet, we received 4 thank-you notes addressed to both of us. For scoring purposes, I’ll divide the 4 in half, so that’s 2 for Janet, 2 for me.
  • And then I received one addressed just to me. So if my slide rule is correct, that brings my total to 3. Janet has 2.
  • Carol, how many have you gotten so far this year? 4? really. You’ve always been an overachiever.
An unexpected consequence to this New Year’s resolution

As I was thinking about how I could meet this goal of getting thank-you notes sent or given to me, I began to think of writing my own thank-you notes to people who have been kind to me.

This drew me to a gift I received a few years ago from my daughter. It’s a lovely box, entitled “A Year of Gratitude – A Kit to Inspire 52 Weeks of Giving Thanks.”

Inside were 52 simple thank you notes and envelopes, printed in 4 unique designs. Also included is a small booklet, the cover of which read, A Year of Gratitude Journal. It contains pages to write down the names of people you send these thank-you notes, and other pages with thoughts and quotes about the practice of thankfulness.

Since I have 20 left, I must have sent 32, assuming of course the slide rule I mentioned before is still accurate.

The inside of the box cover reads as follows:

Each act of gratitude starts a ripple of kindness that begins with you and reaches further than you can imagine. Every letter you write adds joy to the world, so take out your pen and begin.

What writing a hand-written note does for you

So I’ve started to write a few thank you’s from this box, and it’s starting to get a bit addictive. Addictive in the sense that I’ve started to become more aware of the kindness extended to me. Even though it’s more work than sending an email, writing a text, or making a phone call, I’m finding myself drawn to this process.

There’s something about using a pen to draw something out of my heart to lay it down in ink on paper or card stock, and then putting it in an envelope, sealing, addressing, and affixing a stamp. There’s something I find creative about this effort, and that I’ve accomplished something of importance.

And then there’s the mystery and wonder of mailing the envelope. You put it in the mailbox, and for just 55 cents here in 2021, many people will be your hired hands at the post office, your temporary employees, your servants who do your bidding to deliver your note to whomever you want to receive it. From the tip of Maine to Hawaii in the Pacific Ocean, you can do all this for just 55 cents.

So what's the point?
  • The whole point of this relational New Year’s resolution is to do something significantly good that impacts people, which prompts them to express their gratitude in writing. Getting a thank-you note is simply the end result of kind and thoughtful behavior on our part. It’s a way of keeping score.
  • It’s a high bar to receive something in writing. Not a phone call. No email. Not even a text. To get a written note of appreciation on a piece of paper requires more effort and work on the part of the sender. For people to go to this trouble, means you must have touched them in some meaningful way.
  • The goal of this relational resolution is to deepen our relationships with people. We don’t have control over what others do to strengthen our bond with them, but we do have control over how much effort WE put into the relationship
What generated these thank you notes?
  • With regard to the 4 thank-you notes sent to Janet and me jointly
    • 1 was from a missionary couple who recently stayed with us for a week
    • 1 was for the encouragement received from this podcast
    • Another was for having a friend over for dinner
    • And the last one was for a financial support contribution to a new missionary couple to help get them started
  • The one solely sent to me came in the mail from Kathy, a listener to the podcast, who wrote: “You have earned a thank you note!” Then she went on to say a few things she liked about the podcast.
  • Two things struck me about her note: you have earned a note. It starts with earning… doing something meaningful that evokes a written response.
  • The second thing was what she wrote on the back of the small envelope, “I forgot to tell you this note is from my Grandma’s collection! She always wrote thank-you notes!”
  • What a privilege to the recipient of one of these notes from a finite, dwindling supply from a dear relative of this podcast listener.
So what does my experience have to do with you as a listener to this podcast?
  • I would like to hear YOUR stories of people who have sent YOU thank you notes, and what you did to prompt people to write to you. What you did can inspire the rest of us to do something similar.
  • It would be a great way to encourage the rest of us
  • You can send your stores to me in an email to me, Or you can share your thoughts in the “Leave a Reply” box at the bottom of the show notes
If you forget everything else, here’s the one thing I hope you remember from today’s episode.

Be kind to people. Spread a little relational sunshine. Do good without expecting anything in return. Start your own ripple of kindness that will motivate others to do the same.

Here are a few ideas for how we can respond to today’s program.
  • You don’t need to do a podcast to encourage others. The Holy Spirit can show you how to encourage others in other ways, using your unique gifts and personality that God created you with. Just ask.
  • The easiest way for you to get a written thank you note is to have someone over to your house or apartment for a meal. Or even just dessert. Or coffee. Maybe watch a movie. Or just hang out together. Follow the pandemic protocols to whatever extent you feel comfortable but just do it.
  • A second way you can get a thank-you note is to send money to a missionary. If you’re in the habit of donating to missionaries, you’ll get a receipt. That’s fine, but it doesn’t count for our purposes unless you get a handwritten note from the recipient. For that to happen, you’ll have to do something different. Like sending an extra contribution. Or sending them a check directly, without getting a tax-deductible receipt
  • Write a note to someone in your family. I wrote a thank you note to my wife, Janet. A few days later, she wrote one to me. And it wasn’t our birthday, Valentines Day, or Thanksgiving
  • Do kind things for people in secret, even though you’ll never get a thank-you note for doing so. The Bible talks about this. The “thank you” you receive will be from Jesus
  • Finally, do good for others, regardless if you ever get a thank-you note from them. It will make you a better person, the person you were meant to be. It’s what you were made for.

I hope your thinking was stimulated by today’s show, to both reflect and to take action as we’ve discussed. Be sure to let me know how this goes for you. I’d love to hear what you’ve done that generated a written thank-you note to you. I’d also love to hear how you thanked someone for what they did for you. All of this so that you will find the joy God intends for you through your relationships. Because after all, you were made for this.

That’s all for today. See you next week. Goodbye for now

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