Wednesday, 22 June 2022

Showing appreciation

It is always nice to show that we are grateful. I suspect we tend to do too little of it. Saying "thank you" is good for us. I have been doing a bit of reading lately, and - in going through the prefaces of a range of books - have been thoroughly entertained by a variety statements of gratitude by authors. Our ability as humans to be thankful to others, to express gratitude, has been said to "represent a broader attitude toward life—the tendency to see all of life as a gift" (Emmons, 2017, p. 469). Acknowledging the contribution of others when we are creating something can - perhaps 'should' - be done humbly and sincerely. It should not be the voluble blathering of someone thanking everyone including the cat and their parents for having had the joy of the recipient's birth.

The creative process can be all consuming, and allowing that that has indeed been the case is a nice touch. For example, Simon Schama, in his 984 page epic narrative on the French Revolution, said:

"Throughout the writing of the book my [family have...] endured far more in the way of uneven temper, eccentric hours and generally impossible behavior than they had any right to expect. In return I received from them love and tolerance in helpings more generous than I deserved" (1989, xviii).

However, coming up with an idea and following it through with the support of 'true believers' also deserves accolades. Simon Winchester on the tale of William Minor, key contributor to the OED, though a little over-effusive (as his acknowledgements chapter was 7 pages long) said:

"...four people did find it just as fascinating as I did—and saw also the possibilities that [...] I could perhaps create some kind of prism through which to view the greater and even more fascinating story of the history of English lexicography. These four people['s ...] faith in this otherwise unregarded project was total and unremitting, and I thank them for it unreservedly (1998, p. 232).

A nice dose of humour also helps. Marian Keyes thanked 1.5 pages worth of people in her novel about addiction with a nice balance of humour and self-deprecation:

"Several people deserve a damn good thanking. [...] Thanks to [those] who read the book as I wrote it and supplied advice and—much more important—praise. It was often painful to write, and whenever I indulged in self-pity and despair (about 87 percent of the time) their support was a lifeline" (1998, p. 520).

All thanking people. All different. But grateful. 


Sam

References: 

  • Emmons, R. A. (2008). Chapter 23: Gratitude, subjective well-being, and the brain. In M. Eid & R. J. Larsen (Eds) The Science of Subjective Well-Being (pp. 469-489). Guilford Press.
  • Keyes, M. (1998). Rachel's Holiday. HarperCollins. 
  • Schama, S. (1989). Citizens: a chronicle of the French Revolution (1st ed.). Knopf. 
  • Winchester, S. (1998). The Professor & the Madman: Murder, Insanity & the Making of the OED. MJF Books. 

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