10 of the Best Books About Gratitude
Two years ago, my dear friend Amber (of Kingfisher Coaching and Retreats) and I taught an afternoon workshop we called The How & Why of Establishing a Gratitude Practice.
Several women joined us for a look beyond the buzzword “gratitude,” to explore what it truly means and how it can affect our lives.
Gratitude is the act of noticing and appreciating all the good things in your life. So from there, a gratitude practice is training yourself to notice and appreciate positive things, then being thankful for them.
In theory, it’s pretty simple, but training yourself to focus on finding the positive, instead of the negative things going on around you, takes practice and commitment, especially in the midst of a global pandemic!
Defining what gratitude isn’t is equally important.
A gratitude practice is NOT:
- Denial. We’re not ignoring negative things necessarily, just not giving them as much energy/focus. Or are putting them in perspective.
- Being a Pollyanna, “Everything is always great!”. Sure, I believe gratitude leads to positivity and optimism, but it doesn’t mean we’re that way 24/7.
- Wearing rose colored glasses: An optimistic perception of something, often thinking of it as better than it actually is.
- Dismissing bad things with “at least…” (You broke your leg? Oh well, at least you’re alive.) It’s okay to acknowledge how much it sucks to have a broken leg. Then look around and notice the friends who are visiting, the beautiful flowers someone sent, the novel you can finish or the Netflix show you can binge on while you’re on bed rest.
It is totally okay to acknowledge when we’re feeling low, angry, sick, sad. It’s about acknowledging those feelings without wallowing in them for an unhealthy extent. Again, during a pandemic, this has been particularly challenging for me.
As part of the workshop, we discussed books on the subjects of gratitude, happiness, and habit development, particularly those which have been helpful on our own journeys.
I’m sharing that list here, with a few newer ones added on, for you to explore if you’re looking for some inspiration and guidance!
10 of the Best Books About Gratitude
Grateful: The Transformative Power of Giving Thanks by Diana Butler Bass
From Goodreads: If gratitude is good, why is it so hard to do? In Grateful, Diana Butler Bass untangles our conflicting understandings of gratitude and sets the table for a renewed practice of giving thanks. With honest stories and heartrending examples from history and her own life, Bass reclaims gratitude as a path to greater connection with god, with others, with the world, and even with our own souls. It’s time to embrace a more radical practice of gratitude—the virtue that heals us and helps us thrive.
The Joy of Appreciative Living by Jacqueline Kelm
From Goodreads: Based on a national “joy study,” here is a workshop leader’s 28-day blueprint to greater happiness broken down into three remarkable steps. Just three exercises in twenty-eight days? It sounds so simple because author Jacqueline Kelm makes it simple. The book will highlight exactly how and why these exercises work. The Joy of Appreciative Living transforms complexity, insight, and years of trial into one focused, high-powered program of daily practice that can make all the difference in your world.
The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin
From Goodreads: In this lively and compelling account, Rubin chronicles her adventures during the twelve months she spent test-driving the wisdom of the ages, current scientific research, and lessons from popular culture about how to be happier. Among other things, she found that novelty and challenge are powerful sources of happiness; that money can help buy happiness, when spent wisely; that outer order contributes to inner calm; and that the very smallest of changes can make the biggest difference.
From Goodreads: In this refreshingly entertaining how-to guide, #1 New York Times Bestselling Author and world-traveling success coach, Jen Sincero, serves up 27 bite-sized chapters full of hilariously inspiring stories, sage advice, easy exercises, and the occasional swear word. If you’re ready to make some serious changes around here, You Are a Badass will help you: Identify and change the self-sabotaging beliefs and behaviors that stop you from getting what you want, blast past your fears so you can take big exciting risks, figure out how to make some damn money already, learn to love yourself and others, set big goals and reach them – it will basically show you how to create a life you totally love, and how to create it now.
Good Morning – Brook Noel
From Goodreads: Good Morning offers proven tools to help us live our best life daily. While studies show breakfast to be the most important meal of the day, Brook Noel believes a positive “emotional breakfast” is a key source of emotional, mental, and physical strength for the day. Good Morning provides readers with a daily dose of inspiration to make every day matter.
The Gratitude Diaries: How a Year Looking on the Bright Side Can Transform Your Life by Janice Kaplan
From Goodreads: In this New York Times bestseller, Janice Kaplan spends a year living gratefully and transforms her marriage, family life, work and health. Her pioneering reseach was praised in People andVanity Fair and hailed on TV shows including Today, The O’Reilly Factor, and CBS’s The Talk.With warmth, humor, and appealing insight, Janice’s journey will empower readers to think positively and start living their own best year ever.
Living Life as a Thank You by Nina Lesowitz and Mary Beth Sammons
From Goodreads: Each chapter includes stories of individuals whose lives have been transformed by embracing this program, along with motivating quotes and blessings, and a suggested gratitude practice such as keeping a weekly gratitude journal and starting a gratitude circle.
29 Gifts: How a Month of Giving Can Change Your Life by Cami Walker
From Goodreads: More than a memoir, 29 Gifts offers inspiring lessons on how a simple daily practice of altruism can dramatically alter your outlook on the world. The book also includes personal essays from others whose lives changed for the better by giving, plus pages for the reader to record their own journey.