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A Year of Kindness is more than a journal...

a year of kindness book


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.

a year of kindness brings happiness

Keeping a journal of gratitude and the kind things you do each day leads to being happier and more fulfilled.

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

Leading a meaningful life begins with developing a focus on something greater than yourself.

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

A Year of Kindness can be purchased from the following bookstores.

Click your preferred store to order

"If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion." - H.H. Dalai Lama


Psychologist Pamela Paresky is a Visiting Senior Research Associate at the Stevanovich Institute on the Formation of Knowledge (SIFK) at the University of Chicago. Her work there focuses on both experiential education and creating “Habits of a Free Mind” courses and programs that facilitate the ability to think in new ways and to lead and engage across lines of difference –– without feeling traumatized and without dehumanizing ideological opponents.

Dr. Paresky is also the Director of the Aspen Center for Human Development (a non-residential center for advanced study) and serves a select clientele through her consulting practice, MultiGenerational Consulting Services, LLC. Before joining SIFK, Dr. Paresky taught leadership at the US Air Force Academy in the Center for Character and Leadership Development. She also served as Senior Scholar in Human Development and Psychology at the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) where she was the primary researcher and in-house editor for the New York Times bestseller, The Coddling of the American Mind by Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt.

Dr. Paresky holds a Bachelor’s degree in Anthropology with a concentration in Culture and Native American Studies, a Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology, and an interdisciplinary PhD in Psychology and Human Development from the University of Chicago. Her work at Chicago’s National Opinion Research Center (NORC) focused on happiness, relationships, and “Flow,” a construct describing optimal experience developed by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, a pioneer in the study of both happiness and performance.

The Habits of a Free Mind ™ toolkit builds on Csikszentmihalyi's discovery that the best moments in life often occur when people stretch themselves while working toward something worthwhile. She is a regular contributor to Psychology Today and her work has been published in diverse outlets, including the New York Times, the Guardian, Politico, Quillette, the American Mind and others. The goal of her current work is to support and facilitate the development of habits of mind necessary to contribute to and thrive in a pluralist, liberal democracy, and for people to lead fulfilling and meaningful lives.

She is on Twitter @PamelaParesky.

Listen to Dr. Paresky discuss Habits of a Free Mind with Jennifer K. Thompson on the Civil Squared podcast.

Listen to Dr. Paresky’s appearance on the Matt Townsend Show

Pamela Paresky

Seminar and workshop topics include:
Happiness • Leadership • Legacy • Kindness • Curiosity • Philanthropy… and more
Dr. Paresky can be reached by email at Pamela@aYearofKindness.com

"Happiness in some sense has an outward orientation in enhancing the welfare of others." - Dachar Keltner

  • Losing Ourselves: How the pursuit of happiness makes us less happy

    Work in Progress

    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.

“There are moments when action and awareness merge and we lose the sense of duality that separates us from life. In these moments, not only are ‘self’ and ‘other’ not separate, there is no ‘self.’” - Pamela Paresky