Monday, August 17, 2015

The Gratitude Diaries by Janice Kaplan

Janice Kaplan's The Gratitude Diaries is a lesson for anyone who wants to change their life for the better. It's a thoughtful book, and the author spent time talking to all kinds of scientists, doctors and experts about gratitude and how it can change someone. But, it all comes down to how it changed her life. It's subtitled "How a Year Looking on the Bright Side Transformed My Life."

Kaplan's decision to live gratefully started on New Year's Eve, as so many resolutions do. She tried to decide what would make next year different. She decided life was about how she responded to it. "I could passively wait for the wonderful to occur - and still find something wrong. Or I could accept whatever events did come my way and try to appreciate them a little more." What could she appreciate more? How about her husband, her sons, the money she has, the food on her table, her sister, the ability to live the life she has? Her husband acknowledged it was a good goal for the year. "You probably don't appreciate what you have as much as you should. You pay too much attention to what's wrong rather than what's right." Kaplan devoted each month to appreciation, gratitude for a part of her life, but she built on the previous month at the same time.

And, there's probably a little Janice Kaplan in all of us, that tendency to pay too much attention to what's wrong. Is Kaplan's book a marvelous revelation of something new? No, but she concentrates on gratitude, reframing our reactions to life. She gathers together anecdotes about her life, the lives of others, along with literature and science, to suggest it might be worthwhile to try an attitude of gratitude, or "grattitude" as an artist said. Who knows what magic could occur in your life if you emphasize gratitude? Gratitude changed Kaplan's life. It might work for others as well.

In Kaplan's book, The Gratitude Diaries, she doesn't point out what we've been doing wrong. Instead, she shows how she changed her life, keeping a gratitude journal, not every day, but every few days. And, she expressed her gratitude to people she loved. What is she grateful for in her life? What can she see that turns an ordinary moment into a moment to celebrate and appreciate? Today, I'm grateful that I received Kaplan's book. It's a book that makes me think, and try to show a little more gratitude in my life. Who knows how it will change my life, and my perception of it?

Janice Kaplan's website is

The Gratitude Diaries by Janice Kaplan. Dutton. 2015. ISBN 9780525955061 (hardcover), 320p.

FTC Full Disclosure - The publisher sent me a copy of the book, hoping I would review it.


Kaye Barley said...

I'm going to pick this up.

Lesa said...

I really liked it, Kaye.