Expressing gratitude is something you’ve heard about hundreds of times. We all know the values to be gained from bringing a thankful attitude to all situations.
But here’s a twist on gratitude: appreciation. When you are at a crossroads in your life, it’s time to think about the people who have been instrumental in your success or your daily well being to that point and make a conscious point of expressing your appreciation for what those persons have done in your life. You may never have another opportunity. It will cost you little to tell them they are appreciated, and it will likely make a huge difference to them.
It’s not only at the turning points in your life, though, that such expressions of appreciation are important. Regularly there are people making an extra effort to make your life better. It might be your spouse; it might be someone at work; it might be the clerk who exerts herself to be efficient and responsive. Make a point of letting these people know that you noticed.
Commercial airplane rides are known for providing a fresh view of things, a new perspective, the sense of enough room to reconsider life. A client of mine told me he planned to make use of his flights to and from India to consider the big picture and plan what would be next for him. I can’t help hoping he figured it out, even if what’s next doesn’t require my writing/editing services anymore.
All you need are a seat to yourself – preferably the window seat – without an overly talkative neighbor, a view that goes for miles, and maybe a small pad of paper for taking notes. It’s helpful if there is little or no turbulence. Those elements in place, your entire life can come into perspective, and you can see things you had long forgotten.
The trip to Dallas and back this past week was marked by sustained clear skies, creating the perfect setting for thinking. Though I couldn’t help feeling a little troubled by all the evidence of drought far below us, the terrain inside me seemed full of promise. And flying over mountain after mountain on the trip home reminded me that sometimes our troubles seem as insurmountable as a harsh, rugged mountain, but often all that’s needed is a fresh viewpoint and we can fly right over them.
This Best Western in Dallas, TX, has been home for two nights so I could attend the Dallas Writers University — easily the best writers conference I have ever attended. My attention didn’t stray a single second! The presentations were clearly focused on helping new writers to get their books published, and the presenters were seasoned professionals in agenting, marketing, publicity, and contracts. Best of all, the attendee list was kept very small, enabling an intimate setting and lots of 1:1 interaction between participants and presenters.
The reason I would fly from Seattle to Dallas for a writers conference can be summed up in one name: Chip MacGregor. This extraordinary agent not only made the material lively and fun when he spoke to the full group, but he also spent private time with every participant to discuss her or his book proposal. I haven’t seen this ever before, and I started attending writers conferences back before the crust of the Earth cooled.
I can’t put my 20+ pages of notes into a blog post, but I can start with a point Chip made early in the day: What is the promise you want to make in your writing? You have to know yourself, know what message you want to convey, and know what your promise to readers is. If all writers would spend some time living in those three questions, they could become much more focused and effective in their writing.