Five Written Acknowledgments

“Pride slays thanksgiving, but an humble mind is the soil out of which thanks naturally grow. A proud man is seldom a grateful man, for he never thinks he gets as much as he deserves.” – Henry Ward Beecher

Periodically, we must remind ourselves to thank the people who matter most in our lives. Today, while you are (I hope) still in a Thanksgiving state of mind, why not take a few minutes to acknowledge what they mean to you.

Begin by listing five people who are important to you. For example, you might include:

1. someone who makes you laugh

2. someone who helps you succeed

3. someone on whom you can count, no matter what

4. someone who has taught you a valuable lesson

5. someone you love

Next, get out some nice stationery. If you don’t have any at hand and don’t have the time or initiative to run out to get some, use any sort of paper that is available.

Give yourself about five minutes to write each letter and 30 minutes to do all five. Don’t put the writing off, telling yourself that making the list is “enough for today.” Write those notes.

They don’t need to be long, sentimental, or poetic. Just two, three, or four sentences that express what each person means to you. Be brief, but be specific. Identify — as simply, truly, and precisely as you can — the reason for your gratitude.

For example:

Dear Harry,

I was thinking of you this afternoon and found myself grinning in public. It occurred to me that you have always brought a smile to my face. I wanted you to know that I am grateful for it.

Your friend,


Now for the final part: Put the letters in the mail or — if you can’t do that today — put them somewhere where it will be easy to get them in the mail tomorrow. We need to thank the people who make our lives better because it’s the right thing to do. We thank them for selfish reasons — because we want them to keep doing more of what they have been doing. (See Message #733, “Acknowledge the Behavior You Want Repeated.”, But we thank them, too, because we want to return to them some of the goodness they have given us.

Don’t forget — get those letters in the mail! If you write them but fail to mail them, you won’t have achieved your purpose. There is one exception to this rule: a thank-you letter to someone who is no longer alive.

[Ed. Note.  Mark Morgan Ford was the creator of Early To Rise. In 2011, Mark retired from ETR and now writes the Palm Beach Letter. His advice, in our opinion, continues to get better and better with every essay, particularly in the controversial ones we have shared today. We encourage you to read everything you can that has been written by Mark.]