This past weekend I completed my first month of writing Letters of Thanks. I’m proud to have reached this benchmark. It’s been 31 consecutive days of sitting down and writing a letter to an individual who has impacted my life. The result has been 31 more intentional and deeper relationships that have helped me grow and mature. I’m thankful for the experience and I’m thankful that they’ve helped me discover a truer and authentic version of myself. Here are the four lessons I’ve learned during the process.

Writing Letters of Thanks has taught me:

1. To fight for joy

Perhaps this is true of any sequence to habit-building; the beginning is always difficult because it’s uncomfortable. I don’t think that there’s anything enjoyable about waking up early and spending the first hour of every morning thinking about others. Writing Letters of Thanks has taught me to wage war against selfishness. It’s taught me to fight against my own laziness, comforts, and desires. Believe me, there are moments when I wake up in the morning and all I want is 30 more minutes of sleep, but my morning schedule doesn’t allow for it. The practice is hard and it’s painful, but it’s a battle worth fighting.

2. To be more vulnerable

With writing each day, I’ve become much more introspective about my emotions. I used to think that I didn’t experience emotions; that turned out to be a lie. What I’ve learned over the past month is that I DO have emotions — I just have a really bad habit of suppressing them.

Writing Letters of Thanks has taught me to rewire my emotional composition to bring to light deeply rooted issues that have been bottled up and ignored. It’s not always pretty when these things resurface, but I’m gaining a better understanding for how to dial into them when they do.

“Owning our stories means reckoning with our feelings and rumbling with our dark emotions—our fear, anger, aggression, shame, and blame. This isn’t easy, but the alternative—denying our stories and disengaging from emotion—means choosing to live our entire lives in the dark. When we decide to own our stories and live our truth, we bring our light to the darkness.” — Brene Brown

With pressing into my emotions, I’m learning to voice my frustrations while also learning how to express gratitude. I recently told a nurse who was taking my blood, “I like you. You’re doing a really great job at drawing blood.” Who does that!?!

3. To be more apologetic

Nothing is more humbling than getting in an argument with someone during the day and then spending an hour the next morning writing about how grateful you are for them. Seriously. You want to be humbled? Do this exercise. Nothing like a good kick in the rear by asking for forgiveness and offering praise first thing in the morning.

4. To revise goals

While I’ve loved writing letters and cherish each one, there are days where my heart’s not completely in it. Not to mention it takes up a lot of time. So what I’m doing is I’m scaling back. I’ll still be writing letters, it just won’t be 7 days a week. That’s the beauty of setting a theme (mine’s thanksgiving and vulnerability) versus a goal. I want to be genuinely grateful in my letters, and if that means stepping back to revise goals because I’m missing the purpose, then that’s what I’ll do.

So what this looks like for me is taking Sundays off to reset the heart and spend the day being reminded why I write letters in the first place. It serves as a good reality check, and I get to devote more time to blogging(!)

My original goal was 366 letters in 2016. This revision drops it to 318 letters by end of year. I’m still happy with this number and I think it will still serve to really stretch and grow me. Let’s keep on Wescapading!