I didn’t expect to learn something from a fashion designer, but when I visited the Jardin Majorelle, formerly-private-now-turned-public-garden owned by Yves-Saint-Lauren in Marrakech, Morocco, I saw something that inspired me.
Each year, he would design a new love-themed postcard which he would send to some of the closest people in his life. He did so for 30 years — hand-crafted collages that were often inspired by objects near and dear to his heart. And now, the Jardin features an exhibition of his postcards.
I don’t know what it was, the creativity of the idea, the beauty of each piece, the sense of a lifetime's artwork that his collection radiated, but I walked away from it thinking myself that this is something that I, too, would like to do.
This year in particular, there were many people who have been amazing to me and whom I really appreciate to have met/interacted with. People who coached me, pushed me, helped me, supported me and most importantly, believed in me. For long I thought of how I could possibly express my gratitude. A text? An email? A call?
I then remembered YSL’s cartes de voeux, which I mentioned earlier. So with the help of a wonderful designer, Elle Wildhagen, I ended up with the design of my own postcard. I got 100 of them printed and spent all of last week reviewing the year and writing thank you cards to those who either inspired me or made a massive contribution to my life this year. From my managers who wrote my recommendation letters for business school to my friends who were there when I needed them.
There is a shit ton of science around how the practice of gratitude makes people happier and more appreciative of the things they have in their lives. As a matter of fact, I used to have a “3 highlights of the day” list for a very long time which, over time, really impacted the way I was looking at the world as I was going through the days (more aware, more appreciative, more positive). Writing these cards really helped me remember and cherish all the wonderful moments I got to experience this year.
And for the recipient, the fact that these are stamp-mailed, hand-written cards that are not off-the-rack but personally designed, really makes them special and hopefully shows that the gratitude is really sincere.
The important thing is to really express gratitude with no expectation of return. Two nights ago I was sitting in a cafe when a woman sat next to me. She saw me writing those cards and we ended up talking about it since she has a very similar habit. “Wouldn't you get upset if someone doesn’t get back to you on those?” she asked. I thought for a second and replied: “how would that in any way change the thankfulness I feel for what they have done for me this year? Not at all."
Maybe having your own cards is too much, but if there is one thing I hope you take away from this is to take some time to reflect about who helped you this year and to find a way to express your gratitude – in the form of a text, an email, a call, or whatever else you got in mind.