“Often it is not we who shape words, but the words we use who shape us”

– Nina George

 

Sitting on the upper shelf of my bedroom wardrobe is what I would class as my most prized possession. This is not a favourite dress, pair of shoes, or item of expensive jewellery: it is, in fact, a large plastic box filled with old, tattered scraps of paper – basically, memories. Over the years, I have made it my mission to collect and keep every letter, postcard, note and drawing I have ever been written, so that on those days where I find myself feeling down or lonely, I am guaranteed a smile on my face.

I have always been a firm believer in the power of words (as an English Literature student, I kind of have to be, right?), and while I won’t deny that a shopping spree can instantly lift your mood, the effect of this is so short-term, and the happiness to me is somewhat superficial. A thoughtful message or gesture will always resonate much more deeply, and the simplicity of this action makes it that bit more special. Yet often, kind thoughts can go unsaid, cards can go unwritten, and gestures like this are overlooked.

An example of this is a soppy, drunken yet entirely lovable scribble I recently came across that a good friend had left for me to find in my room a few years ago. This letter, which told me that I am ‘sunshiney’ and was illustrated with beaming stick people, reminds me of my wonderful friends, and never fails to make me grateful that they are part of my life (cringe – sorry).

I guess when we are looking for comfort, or reminiscing happy moments, it isn’t the things we bought, or what we were wearing, that we remember: it’s what was said. Jokes that were made, compliments given, stories shared. A kind word, even from (sometimes especially from) a stranger can go a long, long way, and this can sometimes be too easily forgotten.

So write more letters. Send a postcard. Text a funny joke to someone you know is in need of a smile. Because it could make them happy for much longer than you realise.