The Cheer-Ups File

Make Today Matter Blog HopThis is the last stop for the Make Today Matter blog hop, in which bloggers have been reflecting on the habits in Chris Lowney’s new book from Loyola Press. See the full list of blog hop stops here.I keep a “cheer-ups” file for paper treasures that strengthen me when I hit a snag of desolation. I realized this week that the manila folder reminds me of happy warriors, those special people Chris Lowney talks about in Make Today Matter: 10 Habits for a Better Life (and World), when he writes, “Answer this hurting world’s call for happy warriors.”

Cards from friends, inspirational quotes, love notes from grandchildren, postcards, and printouts of e-mails encourage me when I pull the file out and flip through it.

Today I needed that file; I found a card from Mary, who recently died at 92. She always made people smile, and she laughed when most people would cringe. She often put a dollar in a birthday card, writing, “Go have an ice cream!” Seeing her handwriting made me laugh again. She made every day matter by her humor and smile.

And I found a copy of an e-mail from 2008, when I was working on a church fundraising campaign:

I want to tell you how much your support for me meant during the past year—more than you might imagine or that I can express. It’s amazing the subtle gifts we unexpectedly receive from people we hardly know. . . your card and e-mails mean more than you know. Thank you.

Wow. I cannot remember what I did or said to influence the writer of the e-mail. But his note back to me meant enough that I kept it 10 years! Lowney tells a story like this in his book, illustrating that we profoundly influence others without realizing it.

For instance, I remember being a cashier in college. I easily smiled at customers, but when a curmudgeon came through the line, I found it impossible to smile at the following customer. It wasn’t until a genuinely smiling face looked at me that I regained my smile. I never forgot how those strangers affected me in those few minutes. I learned to try to make my smile contagious.

cheer-up file item provided by Loretta PehanichIf you don’t have a cheer-ups file, start one today. Include cards like valentines and notes that begin: Mom, you’ve helped me through my darkest moments….In addition to the paper files, I save cheer-ups in a special folder on my computer. I call my folder “Justin Case.” The pun makes me smile, and that’s a good thing. It helps me store up new strength for when desolation strikes, because it surely will.

Reading the cheer-ups and Lowney’s book, I’m reminded of reasons I have to be grateful. God’s Spirit is at work. Take time to remember a kindness. Its ripple effect can change the world.

Get your copy of Make Today Matter here.

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Loretta Pehanich
Loretta Pehanich is a Catholic freelance writer and the author of 2022: A Book of Grace-Filled Days, Women in Conversation: Stand Up!, and Fleeting Moments: Praying When You Are Too Busy. A spiritual director since 2012, Loretta is trained in giving the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. Her involvement in ministry and parish life includes 20 years in small faith-sharing groups and Christian Life Community. Loretta gives retreats and presentations on prayer and women’s spirituality and is commissioned as an extraordinary minister of the Eucharist. She and her husband Steve have four children and 10 grandchildren.


  1. Dear Loretta
    God’s special blessings this Christmas Season for you and your loved ones.
    Similar to your cheer-up files I have a big brown envelope with these words !Thank you, Lord, for these persons in my life”. They have sent me all sorts of messages, including sympathy cards as well as congratulatory notes.
    I am starting to “de-clutter” little by little and experiencing that this can be a very preyer-full experience.

  2. Thank you Loretta for this post. I have a 3 boxes of old cards and letters at the bottom of my closet. Every so often I dive in there to ‘declutter’ (I’m a hoarder, you see) and ‘reorganise’… I emerge hours later invigorated by the love I find in those boxes. My dad used to keep a manila folder with cartoons and quotes cut out from magazines which, as a child, I used to love reading. That folder very sadly has been lost!
    You have inspired me to create a digital version for my son who will be heading off at the end of the year to study overseas for a year.
    God bless.

  3. I like this,too. I have hung on a ribbon in a little corner of my bedroom, sentimental birthday cards,from my daughter, because she does not often do, sentimental.
    Ps: I know she loves me, though😊

  4. What a great idea. I have a lot of things to add to mine right now. We all need a bit of lightness and a smile.

  5. Thank you Loretta for rerminding us of Mary A. A true sunshine person.
    And the idea of the cheer-ups is definitely worth passing on to the rest of the family.
    Blessings, H

  6. Love this article! I too have a collection of notes and cards I’ve saved over the years and it’s prompted me to send notes and cards to those who have uplifted my life and the lives of others😊

    • It’s hard not to smile when we look back on these blessings. I’m smiling at your comment right now, Mary. Thanks for writing.

  7. What a great idea to have an actual ‘cheer-up’ folder. Finally a place to put all those papers & cards floating around. I pray that any words of kindness I might write or say will end up on someone’s cheer file as well.
    Blessings and thank you for your Ignatian contributions. You are well gifted and thank you for sharing.


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