Anonymously Mail Letters of Encouragement to Strangers

letter10letter9

#29

From the moment I put this item on my “Kind Acts & Volunteering” list, I could not wait to cross this one off the list, especially after imagining how excited I would be if I got an anonymous letter of encouragement. However, I put this item on the list nearly a year ago and after completing it, am angry I waited this long.

letter8

A week ago, I went to purchase envelopes and stamps. I rarely send letters anymore – blame technology or maybe just a lack of common sense, but I remember asking my mom how to address a letter just a few years ago – so after I made my purchases I thought, if I have all these envelopes and stamps now so “Why just send one letter?” I decided that instead, I would send three anonymous letters of encouragement to people. I also worried that if I only chose only one stranger, if I got his or her address wrong, no one lived there anymore, etc, no one would receive my letter! I hoped that by sending three letters, at least one of the recipients would receive my message.

letter7

At first, I was not sure what I would write to cheer them up. Then I thought about the “15 Quotes that Will Inspire You and Make You Think” post I wrote the other day that consisted of 15 of my favorite quotes. People seemed to enjoy the quotes included there, so I decided that I would handwrite the 15 quotes for the three recipients, along with a message preceding and following the quotes. I tried to capture what I wrote to the people in the photos included in this post – in the pictures, for the sake of peoples’ privacy, I edited out all information except for the recipients’ first names – but if you cannot read my message, here is what the letters said:

letter5letter4

“Dear Stranger,

Although I can assure you I don’t know you, I thought that maybe you could use a letter to brighten your day. I hope that if you or a loved one are going through a tough time right now, this letter will make you smile. I can assure you that things will get better. And even if you’re not going through a tough time, I hope that this letter has the same positive effect. Listed below are 15 of my favorite quotes I hope will inspire you and make you think:

  1. “What a comforting thought it is that the best day of your life may not have happened yet.” – Unknown
  2. “I’m bored is a useless thing to say. I mean, you live in a great big, vast world that you’ve seen none percent of. Even the inside of your own mind is endless; it goes on forever, inwardly, do you understand? The fact that you’re alive is amazing, so you don’t get to say ‘I’m bored.’” – Louis C.K.
  3. “Do one thing every day that scares you.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
  4. Sonder: n. “The realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own—populated with [his or her] own ambitions, friends, routines, worries and inherited craziness—an epic story that continues invisibly around you like an anthill sprawling deep underground, with elaborate passageways to thousands of other lives that you’ll never know existed, in which you might appear only once, as an extra sipping coffee in the background, as a blur of traffic passing on the highway, as a lighted window at dusk.” – The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows
  5. “From what we cannot hold, the stars are made.” – W.S. Merwin
  6. “But often, in the world’s most crowded streets,/ But often, in the din of strife,/ There rises an unspeakable desire /After the knowledge of our buried life.” — Matthew Arnold
  7. “I want to be famous to shuffling men/who smile while crossing streets,/ sticky children in grocery lines,/famous as the one who smiled back./ I want to be famous in the way a pulley is famous,/or a buttonhole, not because it did anything spectacular,/ but because it never forgot what it could do.” – Naomi Shihab Nye
  8. “Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.” –Dalai Lama
  9. “Thank God for all I missed cause it led me here to this” – Darius Rucker
  10. “When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life.  When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up.  I wrote down ‘happy’.  They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.” –John Lennon
  11. “This too shall pass.” – Unknown.
  12. “If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.” – Milton Berle.
  13. “If not us, who? If not now, when?” – Hillel the Elder
  14. “What you do speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
  15. “It is never too late to be what you might have been.” – George Eliot

I hope you have enjoyed these quotes as much as I do. Why have I written to you? Although I selected your name randomly from a phone book, I would like to think that fate brought this letter to you. All I ask is that someday, you do a kind act for a stranger.

Peace,

Someone Who Hopes I Made Your Day a Little Brighter”

letter3

Earlier in the week, I was feeling slightly stressed as the end of my college career approaches, and although writing the letters took about two hours, the act was one of the most peaceful and fulfilling things I have ever done. I decided to listen to The Beatles as I wrote them and put John Lennon’s “Imagine” on repeat several times.

While trying to figure out how I would randomly select people, I first went to a website that listed surnames alphabetically. I decided I would start with last names that begin with A and go with a rather old fashioned approach: “Eeeny, meeny, miny, moe, catch a tiger by its toe, if he hollers let him go, eeny, meeny, miny, moe, my mother says to pick the very best one and you are IT spells it, the colors of the flag are red, white, and blue, I chose you!”

I then went to another website where I was able to search for people with the last name I landed on, along with their addresses, and used the same approach as I went through the list of people who share that last name. For the next two recipients, I looked for people with last names that begin with B, then C. A friend later asked, “Why didn’t you just use a random number generator?” and although I told him that would have been too easy, I had a lot more fun with this approach.

letter1

Although I virtually “crossed this item off the list,” I had so much fun completing this one, it was therapeutic, and I still have 47 letters and 6 stamps to go, so I hope to continue going through the alphabet and continuing to send more letters. If I continue to send more anonymous letters, I think it will be an incredibly exciting project to work on.

So has anyone else done something similar or want to cross this item off his or her bucket list now? I’d love to hear from you and about your experiences!

Enjoyed this post? Please share it on Facebook, Twitter, StumbleUpon, or Reddit!

Advertisements
This entry was posted in Kind Acts & Volunteering and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

111 Responses to Anonymously Mail Letters of Encouragement to Strangers

  1. intrepidjane says:

    What a lovely idea 🙂 .

  2. Faith Simone says:

    Reblogged this on Faith Simone and commented:
    A random act of kindess can go a long way!

  3. Faith Simone says:

    Isn’t it amazing that when we do something nice for others, WE are the ones that benefit? It’s one of the best parts of the circle of life. Thanks for sharing!

  4. jeremymayo says:

    This is a great idea. Going to do this.

  5. Meredith says:

    What a great act of kindness. I might just try that?

  6. What a great idea! I’ll bet every recipient was able to personally relate to something in the letter and also picked out his/her favorite quote. Maybe they even passed it on to someone else.

  7. shvally says:

    I absolutely love this idea. I might even have to do it myself some day soon. It’s a wonderful feeling when you do an act of kindness for a stranger, even if you don’t get any recognition for it. I hope these letters truly inspire the people you sent them to! You certainly inspired me 🙂

  8. amforte66 says:

    My daughter started doing this at her college last year. She writes letters, makes them look pretty, and then drops them into the campus mail. I guess the main difference is that she writes exclusively to people who attend her school. I’ll have to send her this post!! By the way, I love your blog.

  9. sarahbarah1 says:

    I remember going with my Mom to the grocery store in the early 90’s and asking people if they wanted a hug. It blew strangers away at such a random act of kindness. We were there for an hour and the Manager approached us to just say thank you and get a hug himself. I guess the shoppers were passing along their gratitude to the manager. I always remember that day. What a profound effect just a random hug had.
    This is such a beautiful idea….I would love to try this myself!

  10. salpal1 says:

    what a great idea! I am sure that the three lucky people loved their letters. I hope they pass it on.

    Seems the most I ever do is pay for the car behind me at the coffee shop. I will have to get more creative.

  11. crccoaching says:

    Reblogged this on CRC.Coaching and commented:
    Such a great idea!!!

  12. I’m partly fascinated and partly OMG about this idea. Trying to imagine how I’d fell if I were to get one of these letters – can’t decide between gloriously surprised/touched and a bit worried that this is some kind of weird message from The Other Side 😛
    Good going, Christine 🙂

  13. Gemma says:

    This is such a lovely idea 🙂

  14. melbug22 says:

    That is so cool! I wanna try that!

  15. spdality says:

    Great idea, I’ll be stealing this one for my list too 🙂 *Yoink*

  16. fatimasque says:

    Dear,
    I have been going through a rough time, and as you don’t know me, I’ll tell you that tough times in the past are generally easy for me. I’m told always how I’m admired for my strength and determination and general happy positive approach on life. Not that I lost that, just that this time, it’s hitting harder than ever. You may not have sent me those letters, but I received them still. So thank you for that. I came to a thought recently that if I couldn’t make myself happy, then I would try to make others. Have written a few cards to friends and mini little advances of the sorts. And it does help. But beautiful it is to see that someone has reached for me instead. I don’t believe in coincidences. So I know that you have been sent to shed light on my current path and I thank you and the universe for being so kind. I don’t know yet the rest of your list, but I’ll be keeping an eye and my heart open, to be inspired by you.

  17. This is a beautiful “Act of Kindness.”

  18. jwharris says:

    I really want to try this out. I think it would be really awesome.

  19. megc says:

    Amazing idea. I’m going to do this in my condo!

  20. sunnymatilda says:

    This is great! I would FREAK (in a good way) if I received a letter like this. So cool! Am thinking that I will have to do something like this over the summer when I have more time 🙂

  21. Anastasia says:

    This is absolutely AWESOME! I would love to receive a letter like that – you’ve inspired me to do something like this myself, so thank you 🙂

  22. Em says:

    That’s a great idea! but how did you send it to them?

  23. alsoranagain says:

    I love this. Thank you for sharing.

  24. What fun! How could a letter like that not brighten someone’s day?! Years ago I read an article about a teen who lived in dire circumstances who was training to be an Olympic swimmer. I was so encouraged by the story that I looked him up in the phone book and sent him an anonymous letter of encouragement. I have no idea what happened to him but the pull to write him was so strong I could not ignore it. I’m sure your letters landed where they were supposed to.

  25. I’m so going to do this! What an awesome idea. How did you get the addresses to send the letters to?

    • Thanks so much, I’m glad to hear that :)! And I just found the addresses online. If you look up a certain last name, the site lists multiple people with that last name and their addresses (which I guess is useful and slightly disconcerting at the same time, haha).

  26. Pingback: A Cause I Feel Led to Support… | Alicia Sprinkles Ohio

  27. From experience, I can tell you that anonymous letters DO brighten the receiver’s day – I’ve been sending them for more than a year now. Good for you; I think this may be my personal favorite project on your blog!

  28. itsjustmewoo says:

    This is something that I definitely will be doing. 👍

  29. Reblogged this on Glenda Thomas, Life Coach and commented:
    Do it!

  30. MissFit says:

    The JOhn Lennon song choices was epic and perfect

  31. what a wonderful idea.. I’ve just spent the past hour with my depressed son. Something like your letter would do amazing things for his self esteem.

  32. shebetties says:

    Very cool idea! That would brighten anyone’s day !
    XoBetties

  33. kaitlin1022 says:

    What a beautiful project!! I have never had a favorite quote, but number 4 was great! Thanks for sharing!! 🙂

  34. saremaj says:

    Hi!
    I was very lucky and nominated for a Liebster Award and I’ve nominated you – check it out here and see what you’ve got to do 🙂
    http://newteacherlife.wordpress.com/2014/05/02/liebster-award/

    Sarah x

  35. equinoxio21 says:

    A fantastic initiative! Brilliant!
    Here’s another quote, supposedly by Mark Twain: “Buy land, they ain’t making it anymore!” 🙂
    i’m proud that you follow Equinoxio. Thank you for that!
    Have a lovely week-end!
    Brian

  36. You are doing such a brilliant job:) I am reading this here and I feel good already, I can imagine how happy the people will be when they receive the letter.

  37. I love the stickers! I hope the recipients were inspired, versus saying “WTF?!” on the way to the trash bin.

  38. This is great. Fantastic idea!

  39. Hazel says:

    this is so cool 🙂

  40. kalyssa162 says:

    Wow. This is a great idea! Today I was sitting on the couch wondering what I was going to do with my summer vacation, minus the usual train for soccer and pick up the much needed summer job lol. After looking at your blog you have inspired me to make a difference this summer. I think I want to start with this idea of letters. Thank you for the ideas and keep creating smiles 🙂 Have a wonderful day!!

  41. Great job!! Keep it up!!!

  42. This is such a sweet idea. Good for you!

  43. Caitlin says:

    I recently read somewhere about writing love letters to complete strangers. I’ve been contemplating it, writing a love letter to a divine notion and leaving it to be found and read by anyone. Hide them in library books or at the book store, tape under tables at restaurants… such a cool idea. This seals it, I’m gonna do it. 🙂

  44. nishak4686 says:

    I really want to try this! Love this idea. I would love to get a letter like that so I can imagine how happy someone would be getting one.

  45. Rikzah Zia says:

    OMG you’re so kind !!! ❤ ❤ I love that idea of your's it's just so amazing ! God bless you for doing such a thing !! ❤ 🙂

  46. THIS IS TRULY AMAZING!!! way to make the world a better place! 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s