Family & Education

Dear Next Generation: The Power of Thank-You Notes

BY Dear Next Generation TIMEJanuary 22, 2022 PRINT

Having an attitude of gratitude can help an individual, especially younger individuals and those early in their careers, to maximize their potential.

There was a cartoon in a national magazine several years ago that depicted a man with a clipboard talking to two parents of a child sitting at a desk who had apparently just completed a test. The man with the clipboard said: “I have some good news and I have some bad news. Your son’s test shows he is very intelligent, but it also indicates he will not learn to write thank-you notes and, therefore, he won’t amount to much.” There’s wisdom in that cartoon.

Every day we have opportunities to thank people who assist us or have assisted us in the past. The list is endless: relatives, teachers, neighbors, peers, superiors, and others. But, for a number of reasons, the majority of people fail to do that.

There was a report in 2021 that documented the percentage of people who wrote a personal note of congratulations and/or thank you. Thirty-one percent of the people wrote a thank-you note this past year. Another 16 percent said they had written one in the past 1 to 5 years. Thirty-seven percent said it had been five years or more since they had written such a note and 15 percent said they had never written a note of thanks or congratulations. One of the reasons writing thank-you notes separates you from the majority of others is because the majority of people don’t take the time and effort to do it.

What is often overlooked is that thank-you notes are a powerful tool. A bestselling book by John Kralik, “365 Thank Yous: The Year a Simple Act of Daily Gratitude Changed My Life,” chronicles the success of one man who discovered the power of thank-you notes. At age 53, Kralik was at the nadir of his fortunes and living in a small apartment, where he froze in the winter and baked in the summer. He had problems too numerous to recount. During a walk on New Year’s Day, he was struck by the belief his life might become at least tolerable if, instead of focusing on what he didn’t have, he could find a way to be grateful for what he had. He thought writing thank-you notes might be the best way to express his gratitude for what he did have. He set a goal of writing one a day for 365 days. It turned his life around and surprising benefits came his way.

Most people have stories about people who wrote them thank-you notes. I share one of mine:

Years ago, I gave a presentation to a large group of high school students. I didn’t expect any thanks and didn’t get any. Two days later, a young lady came to my office with a loaf of bread she had baked with a ribbon tied around it and a thank-you note. Kind of hokey? Perhaps, but if she ever wants me to open doors for her, I’m not only going to open them, I’m going to kick them down. It shouldn’t come as a surprise she was valedictorian of her class and is now a very successful nurse practitioner.

One last comment: Never confuse kindness with weakness. Indeed, it is just the opposite. Insecure, self-centered people are often those who fail to be kind to others on a daily basis. Well-written thank-you notes inspire others.

Terence Moore, Michigan

Retired president of MidMichigan Health System; author of “Lessons in Leadership and Career Survival”

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Seek God’s Approval, Not Man’s

Begin early to ignore the temptation to look at other people for approval. So much of our world’s activities are centered around pleasing people around us. The desire for fame, to be the first to do something, to spend time and money on our appearance, such as approved wardrobe and hairstyles, to say the cool jargon, to get a prestigious job, to know the right people—the list goes on and on of the ways we cater to other humans. Many of us are only realizing this as we get old. How much better to begin early to look solely for God’s approval, in light of the eternity spent with him.

Claudia Shick, Idaho

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So you’re preparing to get married and you want to create the happiest family you can. Here are a few hints to help you strive to that end:

It’s important for a successful family to have a father’s discipline and a mother’s loving attention working as a team with their eyes on the prize of guiding their children’s souls to heaven.

Introduce spirituality to your children from birth and teach them to pray daily. When they approach the dating age, speak to them about God’s real purpose (procreation) for his gift of intimacy.

Your example of having courted a potential spouse who had the same spiritual beliefs as you, illustrates that you and your spouse have committed to keeping the wedding vows, “til death do us part,” which will help them endure through life’s struggles. (If there is no spiritual commitment, chances of divorce are greater, adding to the multitude of broken families and broken souls.)

Teach sons to treat girls with respect even if the girls don’t require it.

Teach daughters to respect themselves and a potential spouse by not putting themselves in provocative situations.

If you disagree with your children, say so and don’t support a sinful action or lifestyle. If they continue in it, give them consequences for their actions and abide by them, e.g., don’t give them free room and board, free computer or telephone, or car access. You may think they will love you less, but in the end, they will respect you for your resolve, especially when they accept your advice and become successful.

Ascertain what’s going on in government and discuss it with older children. Point out to them that it is not good to elect politicians swayed by those who support the taking of innocent life in abortion and deviant unnatural behavior, because those elected leaders will determine who lives and who dies and what is normal behavior even though it is deviant.

Protect, at all costs, your family. Don’t yield to nonsensical comments made on liberal mainstream media. They are not experts on wholesome family life; neither are politicians who seek power and wealth, or Hollywood spokespersons who seek fame and wealth. Examine their lives: drugs, multiple marriages and divorce and suicide. Think about it. Would you trust them to be good role models for your family?

Feed your kids good stuff. Give them hearty helpings of faith-filled and inspirational articles to read. Today, children are dining on the internet, sports, movies, games, and social media, most of which abounds with physical gratification and filters out anything to do with soul searching.

Best of luck and may God bless you in your new venture.

Rosmary Grisafe, California

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As a subscriber to The Epoch Times, I read with interest your published letters from readers offering their advice or experiences to the younger generation. Following is an incident that happened to me that may be of interest to your readers.

My cousin died.

Allan was my age of 77 when his heart gave out. He lived with his wife and daughter in Las Vegas and I was living in Palm Springs when I got the news. We weren’t that close, but for some reason, I felt I should attend his funeral. It was a small graveside service, 10 people in a secluded place in the cemetery. I was standing in the back of the small group of mourners when I noticed his daughter standing with her head down. She was having problems with her mother at that time, so she was standing alone. While I am not overtly religious, I felt a force at my back moving me toward her, which I did. Then while standing next to her, I felt that force, once again, moving my arm around her. At that moment, it became clear to me why I drove 500 miles to be at my cousin’s funeral.

Steve Lurie, Illinois
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What advice would you like to give to the younger generations?

We call on all of our readers to share the timeless values that define right and wrong, and pass the torch, if you will, through your wisdom and hard-earned experience. We feel that the passing down of this wisdom has diminished over time, and that only with a strong moral foundation can future generations thrive.

Send your advice, along with your full name, state, and contact information to NextGeneration@epochtimes.com or mail it to: Next Generation, The Epoch Times, 229 W. 28th St., Floor 7, New York, NY 10001

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