We all want to spread a little joy in the world. Who doesn’t aspire to be there for a friend or family member in need or to make someone’s day with a tiny token of appreciation just because? However, life often interferes with our best-laid plans, and a busy day at work, a fight with our S.O., or not enough funds in our bank account can prevent us from showing up for the people we love in the ways we want to. Luckily, there IS one easy way to be there for those we care about that doesn’t require very much time *or* money — sending cards. Wendy Bomers, senior writer at American Greetings, tells us why this affordable and thoughtful practice can help promote happiness in just a quick few minutes.

Woman writing thank you card

We’ve all been there, searching through the drugstore aisles in pursuit of the perfect [insert occasion here] card for our parents, partner, or BFF. While this last-minute dash may feel stressful, the act itself has benefits that extend above and beyond the couple of minutes and dollars spent at the store. Why? It all boils down to the words you put on paper. “Writing literally gives words more substance — they’ve gone from being an intangible thought in your head to something that can be seen and held,” Bomers says. “This is why seeing something in writing tends to feel different than hearing it… because the words have become physical as well as emotional. For many people, this gives them more validity.”

The recipient may find this simple gesture meaningful for different reasons. “For some people, [that you] took the time to stand in front of a rack looking for just the right card, wrote in it, delivered it… that effort is just as meaningful as the card itself. Other people might feel emotionally fulfilled, validated, or appreciated by the words [and] sentiment. Still others might think the card is so beautiful that the card feels like a gift of art,” explains Bomers.

Woman writing greeting card

And an actual note feels tangible, in a way that an iMessage or email just doesn’t. “Much like wearing your boyfriend’s T-shirt, grandma’s jewelry, or dad’s flannel… knowing a card was hand-chosen by the person it came from gives it a personal touch and more powerful emotional impact,” says Bomers. “Seeing a person’s handwritten message, or simply their signature, gives cards a unique nostalgia and personalization that you rarely find anywhere else.”

If you’re on-board with the idea, but the realities of a busy schedule make it hard to put it into practice, Bomers has some helpful tips for becoming better about sending snail mail. “I suggest buying multiple cards when you have a few extra minutes at the card rack. Once you’ve picked out the card you’re shopping for, take a look around at the other captions, and I guarantee you’ll find more than a few for several different people in your life,” she suggests. “Or, you can stock up on a handful of cards for one person and give them an ‘Open This When’ bundle. Write on each envelope: ‘Open this when you’re sick,’ ‘Open this when you’re stressed,’ ‘Open this when you need a pep talk.’ This is great for college students, new mothers, long-distance relationships… actually, it’s great for anyone.”

It looks like we have a trip to the card aisle in our near future.

What are your favorite ways to spread happiness? Tweet us @BritandCo!

(Photos via Getty)