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Janice Kaplan’s The Gratitude Diaries

Former Parade Magazine Editor Finds Happiness

By Anne McAndrew

There’s magic in these Litchfield Hills. If you can’t feel it you’d better read a page from Janice Kaplan’s The Gratitude Diaries and try again. Kaplan, 15-time author, magazine editor, television producer, podcast journalist, and Kent resident, credits the rolling hills, forest trails, and calming views of Litchfield County as major factors in her best-selling book and successful podcast, “The Gratitude Diaries.”

Gratitude is the zeitgeist of the COVID pandemic, but by then Kaplan’s research had concluded and her book had already been published. This was no “strike while the iron’s hot” intention birthed during days of quarantining. Kaplan’s curiosity emerged years before after concluding a survey on gratitude for the John Templeton Foundation. After some poignant self reflection on New Year’s Eve, she had an idea for a book. “This year,” she told her husband Ron, while he was making her French toast on New Year’s morning, “I’m going to be more grateful for everything.” So over a cup of coffee and with a tweak in her attitude, she committed to living one year being grateful. What started as a literary device became a lifestyle. “Goodwill became natural,” she concludes.

Taking a seat at the gratitude table is just that simple, according to Kaplan. Using herself and her home in Kent as a subject, parts of her book explore nature’s relationship with gratitude. She discovered a perfect harmony. She continues, “living here makes it easy to practice the nature and gratitude connection.” She is referring to research done by noted Harvard biologist E.O. Wilson, the leading expert in biodiversity. In basic terms, his work has proven that all species are interconnected and have an evolutionary bond. That’s why we are at peace in nature. The colorful jumble of Litchfield County’s best; hiking the Appalachian Trail, listening to the morning song of the birds, letting the mountain breezes hit your face, and taking in the verdant abundance of the countryside, are all a big part of Kaplan’s gratitude story. Further, the mind-body connection flourishes for all of us when we pause to count our blessings. Our blood pressure improves and our anxiety lessens. It’s not feelin’ groovy hooey, it’s actual science. And Kaplan backs it all up with extensive groundwork and anecdotal evidence.

Kaplan, former editor-in-chief of Parade Magazine, started her career as a sports writer for CBS Radio. She has authored 15 books, both mystery novels and fun women’s fiction, many of them using her experience as producer at “Good Morning America” as framework. Her most recently released book, The Genius of Women: From Overlooked to Changing the World researches women’s contributions to science and society and how they were unjustly slighted by historians. 

Kaplan hosts the podcast “The Gratitude Diaries” for iHeart Media and is a keynote speaker, both on Zoom and in person. She and her husband Ron live in Kent and New York City and have two adult sons. And of course, she is grateful for everything.

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