Tonight, I intend to sit each one of you down, and tell you in my own words, exactly how much you mean to me
– Frasier Crane, Frasier Series 5 Episode 9 (‘Perspectives on Christmas’)
This year, I think for the first time, I made a proper New Year’s resolution and stuck to it. I can’t tell you how glad I am that I did.
My resolution was prompted by the thought that there are too many nice things that go unsaid. All the eulogies I’ve heard and obituaries I’ve read and wondered whether the subjects knew how respected they were. All the kind and complimentary things said behind people’s backs that they never get to hear.
So I decided to write letters to the most important people in my life – my wife, my family, and my friends – to explicitly tell them the things that I like and respect about them. I thought it was a small thing, but a nice way to make their days a little better.
I don’t think it changed anyone’s life, but the response I got was bigger than I expected. Everyone appreciated it. Some cried. A few sent me letters of their own, outlining what they admire about me (which absolutely wasn’t my objective!). A couple said my letter came at important times for them, reinforcing their confidence when they were feeling low about themselves, or encouraging to back themselves at a crossroads in their lives.
The whole exercise did not take me very long (maybe 10-15 minutes per letter. I found myself reusing a lot of material – turns out I like a lot of my friends for similar reasons). But it seems to have meant a lot to the people I wrote to. So throughout 2019, I’ve tried to make sure people know when I have something nice to say about them. And in 2020, I’ll be on the lookout for other small, simple and easy ways to make people feel better.