A friend once told me that a written note can be more powerful than telling someone in person because a note can be read and reread forever. I realize that notes can’t replace the unspoken emotional connection that exists during a face-to-face conversation, but I agree that a note can be like a sweet little souvenir for the soul. Notes don’t even need to be pretty or professional. Use a sticky note, a napkin, or that notepad lying around your house. It’s not about what the note is written on, but what is written on the note. Even the simplest notes are extremely effective at putting a smile on someone’s face. A note can be a sweet surprise and it also helps others feel our presence when we are not with them. There is a special sense of importance, connection, and love that comes along with a note; felt both by the person who received it and the person who wrote it.
I definitely find joy in leaving notes for others, but what is it that makes me feel so good about it? On a deep, psychological level I feel like Mother Teresa would remind me that achieving fulfillment and happiness comes from making others happy. I may have gotten too deep with that reasoning, but I do believe that the truth lies somewhere in that nerdy thought. On a much more realistic level, I feel like leaving a note for someone is kind of like planning a miniature surprise party for their emotions. That’s when my warm and fuzzy feels are heightened as I begin to anticipate the surprised reaction and emotion I just set up. After all, it’s unexpected and it makes your intended target feel good. It may even change the trajectory of their day! And who doesn’t love that kind of surprise, right?
As a dad, I enjoy leaving notes for my daughter, especially in her lunch box. Some of the notes I leave her are reminders while others are written with the purpose of encouragement. I think her favorite notes are the ones that involve inside jokes. One time, my wife and I took a selfie with our daughter’s Instamax camera, wrote a silly inside joke on it, and snuck it into her lunch box. I’m pretty sure we got the eye roll for which we were hoping. I’m also pretty sure we made her feel special and loved the way we intended.
Writing notes to my wife is a blast because she’s my best friend. I put them in her lunchbox, on the kitchen counter, on the bathroom mirror, and even in her underwear drawer. I always want to encourage her, make her laugh, help her feel good about herself, and remind her how much I love her. Leaving notes for her allows me to do that even when we’re apart. Before we were married, I snuck into her house while she was at work just to leave some sweet notes for her. I hid them around the house, left some in obvious places, and didn’t say a word about it. She spent weeks uncovering those surprises. It made me happy to picture the smile on her face as I envisioned her finding them.
Not all notes are going to change your life, but they can be food for the soul. I realize that receiving a note may not solve all of your problems, but it might improve your outlook and make you feel better about yourself. For me personally, I feel invigorated and confident whenever I am the recipient of someone’s kindly written or well-timed words. A sweet note makes me feel special and it’s a pleasant reminder of how the person writing it feels about me. The notes my wife leaves me are simply amazing because they are so personal and loving. Back when we were engaged, she totally surprised me by sneaking a reminder onto my phone. She secretly set it up so that her sweet message would find its way to my notifications while I was at work. In that moment, it wasn’t just about the message. It was about the effort and love she put in to making that reminder happen. Over a year later, that weekly reminder remains on my phone. Not only is it still effective, but it is a sweet memory of falling in love.
You don’t have to be an amazing author to harness the power of writing a note. This is absolutely one of those times in life when it’s the thought that counts. Leaving a simple “I love you” on your child’s napkin for them to find at lunch is a day maker and it provides meaningful encouragement. When it comes down to it, it’s not even about the actual words you use; rather the feelings and emotions you create. Maya Angelou famously said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Without a doubt, writing a note can be a powerful way to spread the feels. It’s not only a gift of meaningful words, but it’s also a way for someone to hold your words in their hands, even if for just a little while.