In our digital age where hashtags and recurring memes prevail on the surface, there is a question to whether the torrent of technology has left society feeling detached. Some say we long for a personal touch to our communication, and to reclaim control and appreciation of the English language. 2017 Research by the Deutsche Post DHL Group reveals that “81% of millennials surveyed said they would feel more excited if they received a package or a letter in the post from someone they know, over a text or message on social media.” On that note, is it time for a revival of the art of letter writing?
When I look back on the written or typed conversations I have had, the written always proves more memorable. Times such as when my boyfriend includes a long, romantic message in my valentine’s card, or when I get letters from my grandparents from abroad. Whether it’s their unique calligraphy, the effort they’ve taken to express themselves or the keepsake element of written communication, the physicality of the written form has a heartfelt effect that ensures a lasting impression. Despite the immediacy of technology, letters have endured and people still recognise the importance of them. DHL’s survey says, “75% of millennials agreed that sending physical forms of communication strengthens relationships and shows you care more about that person.”
Imagine two universal images: a bunch of letters held together by a lavish red ribbon, and a stream of email conversations popping up on your screen. What do they symbolise to you? One reminds us of an intimate, meaningful conversation shared between two people and cherished over time, even after death. Letters written in a moment of escape, where the only focus was on expressing feelings, sharing stories of life, and ensuring every word bridges the distance and strengthens your bond. The other reminds us of work and spam emails, the stress of how many emails need a replying to, if anyone needs to be copied in, and the anxiety of when they will reply. Immediately, the art and intrigue in your communication has vanished, it has been reduced to a chore or necessity rather than an experience. While we all know our digital means of contact are vital in the modern world, we must not forget that there is also a time and place for letters. When you need to slow down and take a break from your non-stop life reading or writing a letter to a loved one can become a mindful and liberating exercise.
Practicing mindfulness in letter writing can be especially beneficial for your mental health and relationship development. Self-help writer, Wendy Wolff, and author of The Letter Writing Project: ‘a movement to recreate a place for letter writing as a tool to better recognize who we are and our contribution to the greater good,’ talks about letter writing as a means to ‘create an enhanced mindful existence.’ In her article for Best Self Magazine she advocates the process of letter writing as a tool for character development, and an awakening of the mind and soul to the world and each other. She says, “Letter writing is a deeply reflective action that, when done with pristine intention, can bring profound results. It can help us to heal a relationship as well as understand more clearly who we are and what is important for happiness in our lives… being mindful helps you to give explicit attention to your thoughts, actions, and movements. You see more of what is around you by expressing yourself in the quiet moment with paper and pen.”
If you would like to take up your own pen and paper and want some inspiration then check out these resources: The Letter Writing Project by Wendy Wolff, Mindfulness Made Simple by Charles A. Francis (both available from Amazon). Want to make a difference with your pen-ship skills then get involved with The Letter Project Charity! Help ‘empower and uplift women around the world.’ (toloveourselves.com) #PTLOLetterProject