BARBARA — DAY 36: Lent Challenge Meets New York Times

40 notes to 40 people in 40 days

Jimmy Fallon, Graydon Carter, the 2014 Queen of Carnival, and yours truly. You can imagine my surprise at being part of such an eclectic group. But after reading The New York Times over the weekend, I’m less surprised.

You know what I’ve been up to — writing 40 notes to 40 people in 40 days. Blogging about it. Trying to improve my handwriting. Etc.

You see, Jimmy, Graydon, Queen of Carnival, and I all write notes — thank you notes specifically. And as “The Found Art of Thank-You Notes” article in the Times puts it, “Few who sit down to write a bread-and-butter note are likely to be aware that by doing so they are not only on trend but also on their way to becoming happier and more sociable people.”

I like being “on trend.”

The article pointed out that scientific findings have linked “gratitude to increased optimism, stress reduction and a better night’s sleep.” It also talked about stationery preferences and the fashion industry’s tardiness in adapting to digital technology.

Now, I didn’t start this practice for a better night’s sleep. Although, I will never complain about a good night’s sleep! To me, these benefits emphasize and reinforce the intense spiritual impact of gratitude. That’s something I’ve definitely felt this Lent. And beyond thank-you notes — I’ve felt that spiritual connection with every handwritten note (birthdays, words of encouragement, congratulations).

I think it might have something to do with time. You get to savor, enjoy, and reflect when you take the time to get out paper and pen to write a note. And while, in the case of a thank-you note, you’re reacting to someone’s action or generosity — the act of writing your gratitude as opposed to texting it or sending an e-mail connects you to that thought or feeling. Perhaps on a deeper level than you might otherwise encounter it. You can see it and hold it in your hands. It’s a screen-free zone of emotion.

So, Jimmy, Graydon, Queen Carnival, and I will keep writing thank-you notes. I hope you’ll join us.