Take a minute to thank someone that made a difference in your life. I’ve provided some tips to help you get started.
A friend of mine, a writer/photographer, is writing a book on becoming a professional photographer. Her publisher wants profiles of working pros. My friend sees this as a neat opportunity. She’s looked up the photographer who did her senior photos 20 years ago and took the time to talk with her about becoming a professional photographer, and she’s just located the pastor’s son who first showed her a “real” camera and talked to her about becoming a photographer. He’s now a professional photographer and instructor.
My friend is getting a lot out of looking up these old heroes. Of course, they’re enjoying knowing that someone remembers them from 20 or 25 years ago and realizing that they inspired a young photographer. But my friend is enjoying it even more.
Looking up our heroes and saying thanks gives us the opportunity to look back at our own lives, and realize how we got where we are. It’s a chance to be introspective, to remember what brought us here.
I also think the act of saying thank you to someone who didn’t even know they’d done anything is very good for us.
On the one hand, it’s a random act of kindness. We’re just showing up on someone’s doorstep, saying, “Hey, you helped me back when I was just getting started, you were my hero, and thanks.”
On the other hand, we’re expressing our gratitude, and that can affect us very deeply, if we let it. When we start thinking about that hero and wanting to say thanks, we automatically start thinking of other people, other heroes, other things we’re grateful for.
Of course, I’m not suggesting you look up everyone you’ve ever been grateful to. It might be a good long-term project, and maybe I’ll do it myself.
But what I’m suggesting right now is twofold.
First, find a hero from your childhood or young adulthood, someone who really inspired you to be who you are today. If they’re no longer living, try to find one of their family members. Track them down and say, “I just wanted to say thank you for helping me get my start. Your assistance meant a lot to me.”
I think when you do this, you’ll realize that you’re getting as much out of it, maybe more, than the person you’re thanking. You’re remembering that someone once cared enough to help you, before you were who you are now, and that will help you appreciate yourself, and who you are, as well.
The natural next step, then, is to go out yourself and help a younger person trying to get started with something you know about. Be a mentor to a youngster in your field. They may not track you down 20 years later and say thank you, and that’s okay.
But then again, they just might.
How can you thank someone who made a difference in your life?
• Look up a hero from your past, or one of their relatives if they’ve passed on
• Write a letter thanking them for what they did back then.
• Find someone you can help.