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Technology killed handwritten letters like TV killed the radio star. This is unfortunate because handwritten letters convey what technology cannot. 

In particular, letters show gratitude, love, personality, and presence which technology will never be able to match. Not to mention, letters become cherished treasures to whomever you send them to. 

In this episode, you’ll discover why reviving the lost-art of letter writing will help you feel more joy, gratitude, and love than anything else you do. 

Listen now. 

Show highlights include: 

  • This forgotten and archaic childhood activity can give you an endless sense of nostalgic joy today (0:31) 
  • How to show someone you love that you care about them in 10 minutes or less (5:38) 
  • Why handwriting a personal note to your family, friends, and clients is the best way to spend your time (6:04) 
  • How rediscovering the lost-art of letting writing gives your loved ones a precious treasure they’ll cherish for as long as they live (12:01) 

Do you want to stop existing and start living your best life right now? Click here to get the first chapter of Dr. Rick’s best-selling book, Lessons From a Third Grade Dropout, for free.

Read Full Transcript

Welcome to “How You Living?” a transformative podcast featuring best-selling author, inspirational speaker and minister, Dr. Rick Rigsby—and, now, Dr. Rick.

(00:23): Hello friends. Thanks so much for tuning in. I wanna talk to you about letters, specifically, the power of writing a letter. Do you remember how exciting it was to write a letter when we were kids? Oh, I remember our teacher giving us some instructions. We'd write the letter, then we'd send it to either our parents or our grandparents. I chose my Mamaw, my grandmother. She lived way far away in Texas and I was in Northern California. We only saw her once a year. And so the teacher would give us that simple letter writing formula. Remember it went like this for me. Dear Mamaw. How are you? I am fine. I am being a good boy. I hope I see you this summer. I always have fun at your house. I miss you love Ricky simple declarative statements, nothing fancy, a subject and a verb. And then we'd ask our mom for a, a postage stamp.

(01:18): Hey friends, just for kicks and giggles. Back when I was in second grade, back in 1962, a first class stamp was 5 cents today, 2022 58 cents. For the same first class stamp, my penmanship also had to be perfect. I'd go through four or five envelopes, just trying to make sure that I could write clearly or that my cursive could be clearly understood. I had to get mamma's name and address just so, and then I had this really big choice. I could either place the letter in my mailbox for the postman to pick up, or I could walk all the way to the end of the block and put the letter into one of those big blue mailboxes. I chose the ladder. There was nothing like skipping all the way down to the end of the block with a letter that you wrote, a letter that you addressed that was going to your grandmother far, far away, and, and you had the opportunity to mail it by the way, friends, whatever happened to those blue mailboxes.

(02:19): When I was a kid, they were on every block. It all be vanished today, apparent the result of a decline in letter writing. And my Mamaw she'd get those letters and treasure them, especially from all of her grandchildren. But the big thrill came a few weeks later when my mother would announce Ricky, you have a letter it's from Mamaw friends. If you're old enough, you'll remember how exciting it was to receive a, a personal letter. I remember reading every word on the envelope. Ricky Rigsby, 1141, Louisiana street, Valeo, California, 94, 5 90. I would even Marvel over the postmark. There was nothing like getting a letter that was addressed to you. That was written for you. My father would also send me letters. He was always away from home, typically three months out of every year for my entire childhood. My dad was a cook at California maritime academy, a college that to this very day, prepares men and women for careers in the maritime industry.

(03:24): Dad sailed annually on the training ship, golden bear cruises, designed to give cadets valuable experience and to make them see ready back then when dad was at sea, we could only communicate with him two ways, either via ham radio, which was always exciting, especially ending each sentence with over, or we could communicate via the mail, which was tricky since the ship was constantly on the move and in a different port every week. But somehow with a little planning, the mail would eventually catch up at the ship. I recall one critical piece of mail that was more important than perhaps any other mail that I sent my dad when he was at sea. I can even tell you the month and the year, February, 1972 that was the year I turned. 16 years of age here was the deal I had to mail my father, my report card in order for my father to sign off on me getting my driver's license.

(04:28): Although I sweated a few weeks, all went well, getting my dad's letters though, getting those postcards from various ports of call throughout the world. Priceless. Sadly, I got to high school. I no longer found it. Cool to write my dad something. I deeply regret today. When I went to college, writing home was fun, especially to mom. I'll never forget buying that stationary. They sell at the college bookstores with the printed university letterhead. Parents love that kind of stuff, but guess what else about college college also meant falling in love? Come on somebody you see, I went to college in the seventies. Now that predated email, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, cell phones, everything. We didn't even have an ATM machine. If you didn't make it to the local bank by three o'clock on Friday, you were cashless for the entire week. Him and boy do I remember those letters from girlfriends during Christmas and summer breaks, the stationary was sented with perfume.

(05:31): There was a whack seal on the back of the envelope. I'd read those letters over and over and over again. Even today when I get a handwritten letter or a note from my wife or from family or friends, I'll read it two or three times, always feeling valued that someone took the time to write, always feeling valued at someone, took the time to write you. See letter writing has become a lost art in our digital communicative age, but it doesn't have to be. I'll never forget one day giving a speech and talking to a gentleman that just happened to be one of the top salespersons for this company. And he told me that writing a personal note to cl was the key to his success. Alexa Erickson would agree. She wrote a, a piece on letter writing, published on the website, Martha stewart.com. Alexa stated that a handwritten letter can convey what technology simply cannot from the choice of stationary to ink color, to the type of stamp you select word selection.

(06:40): All these things communicate strong messages. Alexa offered several reasons to reconnect back to the art of letter writing among them. Alexa says handwritten letters are personal here. Innately human handwritten letters allow expressions of creativity. They could communicate immense value. They force us to slow down the process of writing a letter, forces us to slow it a bit. We take our eyes off a computer screen. We use our brains in a new way that requires attention and focus and thoughtfulness. Alexa also noted that letters are historical artifacts. They have a life of their own, a recorded history. They become cherished and valued throughout the years. We didn't even mind waiting for a return letter. It gave us something to look forward to like receiving the Sears catalog in the summer. For the most part, the art of letter writing has given to speed and immediacy. We even have a term in pop culture for letters mail.

(07:43): These days, snail mail. The term was likely started by Jim rut. Back in 1981, rut was the CEO of a company called network solutions who reportedly predicted electronic mail would make all the other correspondence feel like snail mail rut was correct, but what cannot be replicated by digital messages is the human touch of carefully chosen words. The feeling of opening and reading a personal letter meant just for you, the piece of history that you don't ever want to discard or how valued you feel that someone took time to write a handwritten letter can convey what technology simply cannot. And we ought. Think about that from time to time right now. I bet you thinking about someone, someone that's on your mind, someone that you've been wanting to communicate with for a while. Why not today? You see friends, I've been thinking about letter writing lately.

(08:52): The result likely of reading a book by the 41st president of the United States of America, George Herbert Walker, Bush. The book is titled all the best, my life in letters and other writings. And I highly recommended, although his wife, Barbara wrote a bestselling memoir, president Bush was reluctant to write an autobiography. He did however, collaborate with his former national security advisor. Brent Schoff on a book about historical changes during his presidency, but friends and colleagues convinced Bush that the general public really didn't know him. The president said what was missing was deeper insight into my heartbeat, my values and what motivated me throughout my life. The idea took off when someone said Mr. President, you've already written a book referring to a lifetime of letters that George Bush had written aids began digging through endless boxes of letters, notes, cards, diaries. They started listening to audio tapes.

(09:54): Now all of this stuff is archived at the George Bush presidential library on the campus of Texas a and M university in college station. The reader begins by reading his book with letters to George Bush's parents during world war II, where Lieutenant Bush was one of the youngest aviators in the Navy throughout courtship and marriage to Barbara Pierce throughout his career as a Texas oilman and his life in politics from a seat in Congress to the highest elected position in our nation, president Bush corresponded with family, friends, and colleagues, all along the journey. The letters span a time period of nearly 60 years. Some of the letters, according to president Bush are serious. Some are nutty, some are caring, some are rejoicing, all were written. When the president was either heavy in heart or filled with joy. I found every one of the letters to be fascinating.

(10:51): I love this quote from president Bush. He said, quote, this book is not meant to be an autobiography, but whole, hopefully it will let you have a look at what's on the mind of an 18 year old kid who goes into the Navy. And then at 19 is flying a torpedo bomber off an aircraft carrier in world war II or what runs through the mind of a person living in China, halfway around the world from friends and family or to what a president is thinking. When he has to send someone else's son or daughter into combat. It's all about heartbeat for me, the most precious letters are those to his grandchildren. Here's just a couple of snapshots. February 16th, 1984, Mr. Bush was vice president when he wrote to his granddaughter, Jenna, the daughter of president George W. Bush. He wrote dear Jenna, we love you so much. I just wish your mom and dad would let you come stay with us here in Washington, I would come home early from the office.

(11:53): We three could play and do fun stuff. I love that, but this one got me February 7th, 1989, just one month. After being sworn in as president George Bush wrote a letter to his son, Neil's new baby daughter, Ashley grandpa Bush, known as GPI to wrote Ashley on the Berry day, she was born. The letter went like this, dear Ashley on this, the first day of your life, your old grandfather sends you his love. Today was the day after my savings and loan proposal. The day of my visit to capital hit to see a lot of Congress members two days before my speech to the nation. But on this day, the day of your birth, I'm thinking of you. Wow. Friends. Can you just imagine what that letter means to Ashley? What that letter means to Jenna? You see rediscovering the law start of letter. Writing has so many advantages.

(12:57): It keeps us connected to family and to friends and colleagues. It communicates unspeakable value, and it's just plain gratifying to both sin and receive something that becomes a historical record. Part of the history of our life is someone coming to mind you. It, I think about all the time, all the opportunities I've missed to connect with someone, that person who has been on my mind, why not take advantage of that opportunity this week? Why not get your favorite pin select a nice piece of stationary, look up and address, buy a first class stamp and send that person a priceless keepsake, something they may cherish for the rest of their lives. Well, that's gonna do it for this episode, friends until we meet again. This is Dr. Rick asking the most important question I can ask. How you living.

Are you ready to make an impact in your world right now? Do you want to stop existing and start living your best life right now? Dr. Rick wants to give you the first chapter of his bestselling book, “Lessons from a Third Grade Dropout”, absolutely free. Just go to www.RickRigsby.com/FreeGift to get the print or audiobook right now.

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