When you’re not face-to-face with someone, how do you communicate? A tendency to rely on texting, emailing and social media can constrain possibilities. Even a phone conversation of depth is ephemeral.
Luckily, another choice is available. And it’s been shown to benefit you in endless ways.
Letter writing is an inspiring way to enrich your personal and professional relationships. You may have already experienced how the personal and professional merge and morph into one another through friendships and shared projects.
Though you may think letter writing is an old-fashioned, dated pastime, its sustainable freshness brings open-ended benefits. The very act of letter writing and what it elicits is a healthy adventure!
Here’s why writing letters is a time-tested ritual that deepens relationships, builds intimacy, and can even inspire you.
1. Writing by hand could make you smarter, thereby improving communication.
According to William R. Klemm, Ph.D., senior professor of neuroscience at Texas A&M University, there is a unique relationship between the hand and the brain when it comes to composing thoughts and ideas.
Learning cursive writing is an important tool for cognitive development that “integrates sensation, movement control, and thinking.” He adds that “brain imaging studies show that cursive activates areas of the brain that do not participate in keyboarding.”
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Presumably, continuing to use handwriting also activates a broader range of your capacities implicit in the haptics field of research. This studies the integration of visual and tactile information with fine motor dexterity, all contained in handwriting.
It’s all the more reason to add communicating with another person on paper to talking to yourself through keeping your journal by hand. That combines the physical advantages of handwriting with hearing and capturing your own voice, sometimes not done until you shape the letters on the page.
When you take the time to sit with yourself and write down all your thoughts, you provide insight and appreciation of who you are and what you want, particularly in your romantic life. When you may get caught in repetitive loops that keep you static, you can go back and read about your progress.
Even better is preserving the worthwhile experiences that you may otherwise forget, like a date night with your partner or a new adventure you went on together.
2. Writing letters instills joy in others when they come from the heart.
While the letters don’t need to be traditional love letters, imagine writing to a good friend who has stood the test of time and trust.
Perhaps, 20 years from now, you and your close friend will look back after writing to one another all this time, reminiscing about affectionate tokens such as a packaged favorite tea bag, a playlist of songs, or a stamp for the next letter.
These exchanges instill a sense of happiness related to almost hearing the sender’s voice as they read their friend or lover’s handwriting. They may find it easier to be honest about themselves when writing at length in pen, not liable to editing.
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3. Letter writing allows you to express your adoration for someone.
For another purpose, consider the often worthwhile risk you could take to express your love or liking for someone. Putting your feelings and specific reasons on paper also clarifies what has meaning to you about the person.
Even if you do not mail it, the process of writing a letter that expresses caring, gives rise to the possibility of a more authentic relationship. Then, you may generate new possibilities or relieve yourself from endless what-ifs and repetitive meanderings of thought associated with avoidance of sharing your feelings.
4. Letters can solve or at least improve issues.
Regardless of how conflict-averse you are, letters are one choice for addressing lingering issues. They may be significant, habitual, or just niggling.
One significant example was a longstanding issue a client had with her father; they had been out of touch for a few years, in fact. I asked her if it would make sense to write him about what was on her mind as well as her hopes, without expectations and acrimony. She did that within a month or so, and later told me her father had died unexpectedly and how relieved she was that he had read the letter.
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Of course, this is an extreme and serious example. But there are many issues that color and distort the quality of relationships that postpone improvements or perpetuate feelings that rob people of aspects of their quality of life.
When a letter is promising or appropriate, use it to avoid postponing possibilities and losing precious time for you and the recipient.
5. Finally, writing letters allows you to empower yourself.
The very movement of writing a letter to someone else, or even to yourself in a journal or alternative writing platform, can accomplish at least two things.
First, it will engage and strengthen a wider range of your intellectual and physical capacities. Second, doing it can open new paths for yourself as well as the other person.
As you become comfortable with such communication, each new effort will flow more easily and be more enjoyable. Start your new adventure by writing one letter to someone you value.
Ruth Schimel, Ph.D. is a career and life management consultant, author of the Choose Courage series on Amazon, and speaker. Her work has appeared on MSN, Yahoo, Prevention, Sage Journals, among others.
This article was originally published at Ruth Schimel. Reprinted with permission from the author.