I Just Wanted To Say Thank You

Gina Hamadey spent 365 days writing thank you notes and told me why....

It’s amazing how many businesses, initiatives and, just people in general, were ready for our pandemic reality without even knowing it. For editor, writer and content creator, Gina Hamadey, it meant addressing the gratitude for the people in her life (and writing a book about it), well in advance of the rest of us catching up to being very thankful this year.

It all started in January 2018, when Gina realized she has just written 31 fundraiser thank you notes. Exactly the days in the month. Could she keep going? Well, she could. And after 365 days and notes, Gina learned an enormous amount about how to express gratitude and decided to share the experience with us.

I was so excited to see the promotion for her upcoming book, I Want to Thank You (TarcherPerigee, spring 2021), and asked her to tell me more about the journey of turning an idea into a movement. Read the full article here.


SE: You took on the beautiful, if not incredibly ambitious, task of spending a year writing thank you notes. How did the ‘gratitude’ project begin?

I had a stack of thank you notes to write to fundraiser donors in January 2018, a task I was not looking forward to, by the way. But as I wrote them out during a commute on the NJ Transit, I found the process felt undeniably GOOD. A calm focus came over me — it was the antidote to frantic social media scrolling. I was thinking about this on January 31, after I’d written the last note of the batch: 31 notes, I counted. Huh, I thought. I’ve written a thank you note for every day of the year so far. What if I kept it up?

SE: Were the recipients surprised? Were you surprised by the response?

I was mindful about putting these out into the world with no expectation of a reply. But yes — the responses were wonderful. A lot of “this made my day!” and a fair number of snail mail replies. Pure joy. A surprising thing was how frequently I heard some take on, “I am having a tough time right now, and this helped.”

SE: How did you decide to turn the note writing into I Want to Thank You?

Every month was dedicated to a different group of recipients — neighbors, friends, mentors, authors–and so each month felt really different, both in the writing of the notes and in the experiencing of benefits. I knew there was a book there. Once I wrote a proposal, secured an agent and sold the idea, I got to work talking to gratitude and brain experts to help me understand that initial peaceful feeling, as well as the other benefits.

There is no doubt that after a year where we needed one another like never before we’ve all developed a running tally of those who are due thanks. Some we may not even know personally, but appreciate for their commitment. And of course the many who saved lives while putting their own lives at risk.

I’d love to hear about the last time you wrote a thank you note?