Who Are the Significant People in your Life?

by Liisa Kyle, Ph.D. on 05/02/2012

Who have been the greatest positive influences on your life, personally and professionally?  Who has supported you?  Who has inspired you? Do they know how important or meaningful they have been to you?

Recently, my friend Mari invited thirteen female friends to a luncheon to honour the “Significant Women in her Life”. Over sparkling wine and a light salad meal, she gave a short speech to explain why each guest was there.  Mari noted the commonalities among them — how the threads of their lives had woven together. 

I adore this idea and would love to replicate it — however to do so, I would have to overcome some logistical challenges.  First, the Significant Women in my Life are far-flung around the globe.  Hard to imagine they’d fly into California for lunch.

Second, I haven’t actually met some of Significant Women in my Life.  When I think about the women who’ve had the biggest influence on me, topping the list is my creative hero, Julia Cameron.  Her book, The Artist’s Way, triggered my escape from the corporate world into more creative pursuits. 

A personal choice would be Mollie Katzen, author of many seminal vegetarian cookbooks beginning with The Moosewood Cookbook (a.k.a. the Vegetarian Bible).  As someone who’s not eaten meat for decades, I’m grateful indeed to have had Mollie Katzen’s recipes enhancing my culinary repertoire.

In an ideal world, I’d love to invite my career role models — Martha Beck (Finding Your Own North Star, The Joy Diet),  Barbara Sher (I Could Do Anything if Only I Knew What It Was, Live the Life you Love),  Susan Jeffers (Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway, Embracing Uncertainty) and M.J. Ryan (Attitudes of Gratitude, The Happiness Makeover).  I’d had the honour of corresponding with them…and actually collaborating with the latter two on a book about happiness.  What a thrill it would be to meet these women in person — to bask in their wisdom, candour and good humour.

And while I’m dreaming, I’d also invite to my Fantasy Lunch with Significant Women in my Life those artists who have inspired and enlightened me:  multi-talented artists such as Joni Mitchell and Joan Armatrading plus writers including Margaret Atwood, Anne Tyler and J.K. Rowling.  There is something about their creative works that resonates deep down.

Next, I’d compile a list of the Significant Men in my Life — but I’ll spare you the details.

The point of this exercise is to

(a) identify and

(b) express appreciation

for those people — women AND men — who have enhanced our lives, personally and professionally. 

It’s important and helpful to take time to actually express gratitude to those people who have inspired, supported or guided us.  It doesn’t matter how — a verbal ‘thank you’, a written card, a post on social media, a gift, a meal — whatever is appropriate under the circumstances.

Why bother?

1.  By acknowledging the positive influences in your life, you are strengthening those bonds.

2.  It’s far more helpful to focus on what’s been good in your life than the alternative.

3.  No person on the planet hears ‘thank you’ too much.  No-one is ‘sick and tired’ of being appreciated.  Saying ‘thank you’ to someone is always worthwhile — no matter who your hero or role model or supporter may be.


Activity:  Who are the significant people in your life?

Activity:  How can you express your appreciation to the significant people in your life?

Bonus activity:  Do  it.  Express appreciation to the significant people in your life.


We’d love to hear about the significant people in your life and how you express your appreciation to them.  Message us or leave a comment.

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