Spend a year doing something kind every day and something magical happens - you become happier, kinder, more grateful, and your life is imbued with meaning.
A Year of Kindness is more than a journal. It provides empirical evidence that focusing on kindness and gratitude leads to being happier and more fulfilled, and is an easy tool to create that focus. Write in the journal about gratitude and the things you do for others each day, and see for yourself how this simple exercise transforms any 365 days into A Year of Kindness.
Drawing on years of social and psychological research about kindness and giving, Psychologist Pamela Paresky created this simple yet extraordinary guide for anyone who would like to be kinder, happier, and lead a more meaningful life.
Wisdom traditions have taught kindness for thousands of years. We all know that kindness and giving are good for the recipient, but what is less obvious is how good they are for the giver. The happiest people are those who give. As His Holiness the Dalai Lama teaches, "If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion."
"If I am not for myself, who will be for me? But if I am only for myself, what am I? If not now, when?" - Rabbi Hillel
Being grateful is an essential element in leading a happy and meaningful life, but gratitude is more than being thankful for what we have. Gratitude is also about being thankful for what we can do for others. Leading a meaningful life begins with developing a focus on something greater than yourself, and making a commitment to kindness is a good first step. Research indicates that when people record their acts of kindness, they become kinder, happier, and more grateful. By keeping a journal of both kindness and gratitude, anyone can lead a happier, more meaningful life.
"In a world that moves faster and faster, each day bringing new challenges, it's easy to lose sight of the civility that civilization requires. What a marvelous gift to have a program like this to help us stay focused on the simple and indispensable need of all human societies: kindness. Thank you, Dr. Pamela Paresky for reminding us of what matters."
Mickey Edwards, The Aspen Institute
"Dr. Pamela Paresky is uniquely qualified to be a guide for the important work of discovering our paths to self fulfillment. Journaling about kindness & gratitude shines a light on values that govern us and actions that enlighten us."
Fred Pryor, leadership expert and founder of Fred Pryor Seminars
"Since the late 18th century, non sibi (not for self) has been the motto of Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts. Now Dr. Pamela Paresky, a graduate of the school, has found an elegant way to make that abstraction a guide for daily life through this journal, A Year of Kindness."
Barbara Landis Chase, Former Head of School, Phillips Academy
"Dr. Paresky has astutely determined that if we take a year to focus on something outside ourselves and resolve to do something kind each day, we will never go back. Her journal is ideal for both adults and young people in setting us all on a path of conscious concern for others, and creating a lifelong habit of doing good."
Elayne Bennett, Adolescent Development expert and Founder/President of Best Friends Foundation
"Wherever there is a human being there is an opportunity for a kindness" - Seneca
"If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion." - H.H. Dalai Lama
Pamela Paresky is the Executive Director of the Aspen Leadership Institute, and Adjunct Researcher at the United States Air Force Academy in the Center for Character and Leadership Development.
Dr. Paresky also works with individuals, companies, families, and nonprofits that seek to create optimal relationships and organizations through her consulting practice, MultiGenerational Consulting Services, LLC. Her services include her trademark Aspen Inquiry,™ Aspen Legacy Seminar,™ and Aspen Legacy Interview.™ Her consulting clients include families, corporations, nonprofits, educational institutions, individuals, and the military.
A featured speaker at the 2012 National Character and Leadership Symposium, Dr. Paresky lectures and leads workshops and seminars on topics that include (among others) happiness, kindness, legacy, leadership, and the fulfilling life. In collaboration with Dr. Helen Fisher, she examines biologically-based leadership dimensions including the neural and cognitive correlates of leadership and biological personality temperament, and she develops and leads courses on leadership for the Aspen Leadership Institute.
Early praise for Losing Ourselves
From Rabbi Harold Kushner, internationally celebrated author of When Bad Things Happen to Good People and eleven other widely acclaimed books:
“Pamela Paresky understands what it means to fill one's life with meaning in a mature way, and shares her insights with us in this significant book.”
Dr. Pamela Paresky's manuscript, Losing Ourselves: How the pursuit of happiness makes us less happy, presents research in behavioral and social sciences, and wisdom from philosophy and religion to reveal what gives life meaning. In a country founded on a right to pursue happiness, why are so many people unhappy? As our culture has become obsessed with wealth, fame, and self-gratification, and less focused on service, altruism, and integrity, our lives have become less meaningful. We have lost sight of what makes life worth living. The simple truth is that happiness is not found when directly pursued. It is a by-product of a dedication to something greater than ourselves.
Interviews with people from diverse fields and walks of life (including former U.N. Under Secretary General Shashi Tharoor; Buddhist Monk, Matthieu Ricard; Maryland's former Lieutenant Governor, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend; the late Reverend Peter Gomes; philanthropist, Bill Gates Sr.; former Director of the CIA, Jim Woolsey; Newsweek Senior Editor, Jonathan Alter -- and others) are presented to illustrate the elements of a meaningful life.
Drawing on social science, philosophy, wisdom from spiritual traditions, and case studies of people who do meaningful things, Dr. Paresky illuminates that when reaching beyond our own happiness and making a difference in the lives of others, we not only find happiness, but find fulfillment in a meaningful life. When we transcend our narrow view of individual "self," we have the expansive sense of a life well-lived. In a certain sense, it is only the loss of self that creates the experience that life is worthwhile.
"Happiness in some sense has an outward orientation in enhancing the welfare of others." - Dachar Keltner