The Gratitude Diaries starts at a party on New Year’s Eve when Janice Kaplan sets herself a resolution to try being more grateful for a year to see if it can improve her life and outlook.
Janice is a journalist, who has an apartment in Manhattan and a house in the country, happily married with kids, she has a lot to be grateful for, yet like many people she compares herself to others who have it better than her, struggles to look beyond the imperfections and takes what she has for granted.
I found it easy to relate to Janice throughout her gratitude experiment because she’s honest about how she had to retrain herself to be grateful instead of complaining, criticising and focusing on the negatives. Above all, Janice demonstrates that while gratitude, optimism and positivity may come more naturally to some people than others, gratitude is a habit that anyone can cultivate.
Janice also recognises that it’s easy to feel grateful when life is good, but gratitude is not a panacea shielding us from all of life’s disappointments, sorrows and frustrations instead gratitude is a way of steadying ourselves in the storms, setbacks and struggles by adjusting what we focus on.
The Gratitude Diaries is split into four parts, corresponding with the seasons of the year, where she concentrates on different areas of her life, including marriage and family, career, money and health, and shows how gratitude improves each aspect of her life. The book is peppered with quotes from philosophers such as Epicurus and Marcus Aurelius whose wisdom is as relevant today as it was in their own lifetimes, as well as research and interviews from more contemporary sources like the psychologist Martin Seligman and actor Matt Damon.
I really enjoyed this book, it’s full of ideas on how to develop an “attitude of gratitude” and I can see myself re-reading it for inspiration and motivation as I try to live gratefully.