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Real Story: She Writes Love Letters to Total Strangers

Real Story: She Writes Love Letters to Total Strangers

People do strange things. All too often, those strange actions are ones that cause discomfort and pain to those around us. This story is not a story like that. This story is one in which a person is taking action to stir positive emotions in those around her. One in which she has made a conscious effort to seek out people who may feel invisible, or people who have been through some things.

This story has tickled my imagination and I hope it does yours as well. Hannah Brencher is the Juliet to her city. That is, she has written love letters to be found in all areas of her city by different people. The first one she wrote was addressed “If you find this letter… it is for you.”

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Finding Love Letters

Can you imagine finding a love letter in your coat pocket, on the sink of the bathroom, tucked behind the subway seat, or on the water fountain? A letter that gave you a small reprieve from the things going on inside your head. A letter that gave you purpose for a moment by showing a kindness. This is what Hannah did for people.

Then it developed further. She began a website and branched out to have others try this out in their communities. The website is called moreloveletters.com. The website now connects people who need love letters with others that have begun writing love letters.

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Examples of Lives Changed

One particular happy story involves a lady by the name of Briana. She was a single mother struggling to pay rent. Hannah wrote out her story and requested letters for Briana. The day came to check her PO Box and forward on the letters. She opened the box and there was nothing, but a small sticky note. Low and behold so many letters were received that they didn’t fit in the box. The letters were compiled and sent on to Briana.

Put yourself in Briana’s place for a moment (or any of the letter receivers’ shoes.) Can you imagine the immense relief of no longer feeling alone? In world where we remain so connected through electronics and the interwebs. Invisible strings that connect us, these letters are physical representations of a connection that is lacking in these other communications—connections that can be felt, touched, and slept with under our pillow.

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I remember as a child putting my most special treasures under my pillow. The troll doll with the jeweled belly that I made wishes on, my list of dreams and wishes for the year, and my bible when I went through a particularly religious phase. I feel like this sort of letter would be a good fit to remind me of the love.

Please do your self a favor and visit this article from Hannah Bencher herself and read some more examples of this awesome project she started and has continued. The article can be found by clicking this link.

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Hannah speaks of chemotherapy patients, PTSD sufferers, veterans, and people fearing they wouldn’t leave a mark on the world. These people received love letters. Bundles of letters from fellow human beings that didn’t want people to feel alone. People who followed her lead to reach out and show love.

How You Can Get Involved

I don’t know Hannah, but this work that she does makes me happy. I take joy in the joy she is spreading. If we take a second to look through our own lives, we may find things can we do to bring joy to others. Letters to soldiers might be a good starting off point. Thanking them for all they do and showing support for all that they give up to serve the country. Please also check Hannah’s website MoreLoveLetters.com to get started on your letters.

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Last Updated on August 6, 2020

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

We’ve all done it. That moment when a series of words slithers from your mouth and the instant regret manifests through blushing and profuse apologies. If you could just think before you speak! It doesn’t have to be like this, and with a bit of practice, it’s actually quite easy to prevent.

“Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another.” – Napolean Hill

Are we speaking the same language?

My mum recently left me a note thanking me for looking after her dog. She’d signed it with “LOL.” In my world, this means “laugh out loud,” and in her world it means “lots of love.” My kids tell me things are “sick” when they’re good, and ”manck” when they’re bad (when I say “bad,” I don’t mean good!). It’s amazing that we manage to communicate at all.

When speaking, we tend to color our language with words and phrases that have become personal to us, things we’ve picked up from our friends, families and even memes from the internet. These colloquialisms become normal, and we expect the listener (or reader) to understand “what we mean.” If you really want the listener to understand your meaning, try to use words and phrases that they might use.

Am I being lazy?

When you’ve been in a relationship for a while, a strange metamorphosis takes place. People tend to become lazier in the way that they communicate with each other, with less thought for the feelings of their partner. There’s no malice intended; we just reach a “comfort zone” and know that our partners “know what we mean.”

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Here’s an exchange from Psychology Today to demonstrate what I mean:

Early in the relationship:

“Honey, I don’t want you to take this wrong, but I’m noticing that your hair is getting a little thin on top. I know guys are sensitive about losing their hair, but I don’t want someone else to embarrass you without your expecting it.”

When the relationship is established:

“Did you know that you’re losing a lot of hair on the back of your head? You’re combing it funny and it doesn’t help. Wear a baseball cap or something if you feel weird about it. Lots of guys get thin on top. It’s no big deal.”

It’s pretty clear which of these statements is more empathetic and more likely to be received well. Recognizing when we do this can be tricky, but with a little practice it becomes easy.

Have I actually got anything to say?

When I was a kid, my gran used to say to me that if I didn’t have anything good to say, I shouldn’t say anything at all. My gran couldn’t stand gossip, so this makes total sense, but you can take this statement a little further and modify it: “If you don’t have anything to say, then don’t say anything at all.”

A lot of the time, people speak to fill “uncomfortable silences,” or because they believe that saying something, anything, is better than staying quiet. It can even be a cause of anxiety for some people.

When somebody else is speaking, listen. Don’t wait to speak. Listen. Actually hear what that person is saying, think about it, and respond if necessary.

Am I painting an accurate picture?

One of the most common forms of miscommunication is the lack of a “referential index,” a type of generalization that fails to refer to specific nouns. As an example, look at these two simple phrases: “Can you pass me that?” and “Pass me that thing over there!”. How often have you said something similar?

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How is the listener supposed to know what you mean? The person that you’re talking to will start to fill in the gaps with something that may very well be completely different to what you mean. You’re thinking “pass me the salt,” but you get passed the pepper. This can be infuriating for the listener, and more importantly, can create a lack of understanding and ultimately produce conflict.

Before you speak, try to label people, places and objects in a way that it is easy for any listeners to understand.

What words am I using?

It’s well known that our use of nouns and verbs (or lack of them) gives an insight into where we grew up, our education, our thoughts and our feelings.

Less well known is that the use of pronouns offers a critical insight into how we emotionally code our sentences. James Pennebaker’s research in the 1990’s concluded that function words are important keys to someone’s psychological state and reveal much more than content words do.

Starting a sentence with “I think…” demonstrates self-focus rather than empathy with the speaker, whereas asking the speaker to elaborate or quantify what they’re saying clearly shows that you’re listening and have respect even if you disagree.

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Is the map really the territory?

Before speaking, we sometimes construct a scenario that makes us act in a way that isn’t necessarily reflective of the actual situation.

A while ago, John promised to help me out in a big way with a project that I was working on. After an initial meeting and some big promises, we put together a plan and set off on its execution. A week or so went by, and I tried to get a hold of John to see how things were going. After voice mails and emails with no reply and general silence, I tried again a week later and still got no response.

I was frustrated and started to get more than a bit vexed. The project obviously meant more to me than it did to him, and I started to construct all manner of crazy scenarios. I finally got through to John and immediately started a mild rant about making promises you can’t keep. He stopped me in my tracks with the news that his brother had died. If I’d have just thought before I spoke…

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