The Gratitude Diaries
Gratitude is the newest buzz word of choice in all the magazines and blogs. They are filled with people recounting their lives since they started including gratitude. However this sacred practice has in fact been around for many years and practiced by buddhists, monks and spiritual leaders all over the world, for many centuries. There are endless quotes from Aristotle to Winston Churchill on the benefits of having a grateful attitude towards life.
I myself have always tried to include gratitude in my life, often taking a moment to be thankful for the people and the things around me. As a result I have had a lot of experiences to be thankful for and so I was naturally attracted to this book, especially as it was coming close to the end of yet another year and so a great time to realign my thinking.
Janice Kaplan is a noted magazine editor, television producer, writer and journalist, a mother, wife and someone who you would think has a lot to be grateful for in her life. To be honest when I first started reading this book, I couldn’t actually understand how someone had found so much success without understanding the power of gratitude.
However it soon became evident that whilst Janice had achieved some great things in her life, she had also slipped into the habit of not seeing just how fortunate she was. Instead she focused her energy on the things that frustrated, annoyed and irritated her, from a rainy day to being late for work. It was this realisation that led Janice to the idea of spending a year focusing on gratitude.
We have all been guilty of acting this way, and it is this aspect that makes this book so relatable. For the first time it is a book about gratitude written by someone who doesn’t have it all figured out.
The book begins on New Years Eve, when Janice decided she was going to live the following year being grateful, in the hope that it would improve her mindset and overall happiness. The year is then broken into separate months, with a new focus for each e.g. her marriage, her children, her job.
From the beginning, Janice is clear in her narrative about the struggles she faced when trying to reverse a life time of thinking and natural instinct. As for many, when something doesn’t go the way we planned, it is so easy to get frustrated and carry those feelings around with us. We have to learn to let those things go as the events are in the past and can no longer be changed; however the outcome and how we deal with it can.
People are disturbed not by events, but by the views which they take of them – The Discourses: Epictetus
It is clear Janice is a journalist as she takes on her year of gratitude with a journalistic intensity, fully absorbing herself in the subject. This adds a whole new dimension to the book as every chapter and every story is backed by science. She has explored gratitude on many different levels, quoting countless studies in the field from a wide range of institutes. Throughout her year she did an immense amount of research into the physiological, psychological, and emotional benefits of gratitude. Also visiting doctors, professors and gratitude specialists in order to gain a deeper understanding of what she was trying to achieve.
This book is for anyone and everyone, whether you consider yourself the most positive and grateful person you know or if you are someone struggling to see the brighter side. It is a way to remind yourself of the finer things in life and has some great lessons in teaching you how to flip everyday mundane/bad situations into perfect moments to show gratitude.
But instead of seeing it as a problem, I could filter it through the lens of gratitude and come out with a completely different response. – Janice Kaplan
There is also a 7 Day Gratitude Challenge in the back of the book to help you implement the things you have learnt about as a way to kickstart your very own year of gratitude.