books & resources on gratitude and appreciation

A Topic Section of The New Conversations Initiative
Communication Skills Empowerment Bookstore

Recommended Reading List (with book-purchase links)

Free article: Dorsey Griffith, Thanks is Good Therapy , newpaper article in the Sacramento Bee, 11-19-2007.

Free scholarly resources: Prof. Michael E. McCullough’ web page on gratitude research :

The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace, by Gary Chapman, PhD,  and Paul White, PhD,, applies the love language concept to the workplace. This book helps supervisors and managers effectively communicate appreciation and encouragement to their employees, resulting in higher levels of job satisfaction, healthier relationships between managers and employees, and decreased cases of burnout.

Ideal for both the profit and non-profit sectors, the principles presented in this book have a proven history of success in businesses, schools, medical offices, churches, and industry. Each book (that has not been previously used) contains an access code for the reader to take a comprehensive online MBA Inventory (Motivating By Appreciation)—a $15 value.

The inventory is designed to provide a clearer picture of an individual’s primary language of appreciation and motivation as experienced in a work-related setting. This assists managers and supervisors in communicating effectively to their team members, and thus building a more positive and productive work environment.

Praise from experts in the field:

“In far too many workplaces results matter more than the people who work there. Gary Chapman and Paul White beg to differ. In this absolute must read book, they shift the pendulum to the art of appreciation. In creative, yet very practical ways they show how to appreciate every single person at work, which will automatically boost the employee’s confidence and productivity. This book holds the key to transforming all working environments into safe and effective spaces where people can feel valued once again.”

— Stephan Joubert
International leadership consultant and
author of more than forty books

Click here to download a 15-page excerpt from this book.

Look for this book in your local library, order from your local bookstore (ISBN=978-0802461766), or click HERE to search for this book and related recommendations and discussion on
(The above Goodreads link is offered for the benefit and convenience of our visitors. This website and its editors have no financial connection to or its affiliated booksellers.)

The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate, by Gary Chapman, PhD, outlines five ways to express and experience love that Chapman calls “love languages”: receiving gifts, quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service (devotion), and physical touch. Examples are given from his counseling practice, as well as questions to help determine one’s own love languages.

According to Chapman’s theory, each person has one primary and one secondary love language. He suggests that to discover another person’s love language, one must observe the way they express love to others, and analyze what they complain about most often and what they request from their significant other most often. He theorizes that people tend to naturally give love in the way that they prefer to receive love, and better communication between couples can be accomplished when one can demonstrate caring to the other person in the love language the recipient understands.

An example would be that a husband may be confused when he does the laundry for his wife and she doesn’t perceive that as an act of love, viewing it as simply performing household duties, because the love language she comprehends is words of affirmation (verbal affirmation that he loves her). She may try to use what she values, words of affirmation, to express her love to him, which he would not value as much as she does. If she understands his love language and mows the lawn for him, he perceives it in his love language as an act of expressing her love for him; likewise, if he tells her he loves her, she values that as an act of love.

The 5 Love Languages has transformed countless relationships. Its ideas are simple and conveyed with clarity and humor, making this book practical as it is personable. You’ll be inspired by real-life stories and encouraged by its commonsense approach. reading this book feels like taking a walk with a wise friend. Applying it will forever change your relationship—starting today.

The book has been on the New York Times Best Seller list since August 2009 and is a #1 best seller among Amazon’s books on the topic of love and romance. A new, revised edition of The Five Love Languages was released on January 1, 2015.  (Some book information above was adapted from Wikipedia.)

Look for this book in your local library, order from your local bookstore (ISBN=9780802412706), or click HERE to search for this book and related recommendations and discussion on
(The above Goodreads link is offered for the benefit and convenience of our visitors. This website and its editors have no financial connection to or its affiliated booksellers.)


Bringing Out the Best in People:
How to Apply the Astonishing Power of Positive Reinforcement

by Aubrey C. Daniels.

Expressing more appreciation is one of the Seven Challenges emphasized on this web site.  Daniels’ book is controversial because he discusses motivating people with rewards, recognition and organizational programs that try to express systematic appreciation for jobs well done.  Some people have objected that this is treating employees like trainable animals:  throwing a fish to the performing dolphin.  The problem is that organizations are always conditioning their employees in one way or another; any structured environment does that. So this book recommends that companies take responsibility for steering the conditioning processes that are at work every day.  The most important issue here is that people who cause problems often get most of the attention in organizations, and people who try hard and perform well often get ignored and taken for granted.  The high performing folks then get frustrated and leave, because their basic need for recognition is not being met.  And when they do leave, the organization suffers.  The idea of managing by correcting mistakes and “keeping people in line” has such a strong grip on so many managers that it will probably take radical programs like Daniels’ to get people on the road toward managing by rewarding excellence.   (Review by Dennis Rivers)

Look for this book in your local library, order from your local bookstore (ISBN=9780071351454), or click HERE to search for this book and related recommendations and discussion on
(The above Goodreads link is offered for the benefit and convenience of our visitors. This website and its editors have no financial connection to or its affiliated booksellers.)

Gratefulness, The Heart of Prayer
An Approach to Life in Fullness

Brother David Steindl-Rast

Brother David Steindl-Rast explores the many meanings and benefits of the spiritual practice of gratitude. Here is an excerpt that explains the link between joy and gratefulness.

“Ordinary happiness depends on happenstance. Joy is that extraordinary happiness that is independent of what happens to us. Good luck can make us happy, but it cannot give us lasting joy. The root of joy is gratefulness. We tend to misunderstand the link between joy and gratefulness. We notice that joyful people are grateful and suppose that they are grateful for their joy. But the reverse is true: their joy springs from gratefulness. If one has all the good luck in the world, but takes it for granted, it will not give one joy. Yet even bad luck will give joy to those who manage to be grateful for it. We hold the key to lasting happiness in our own hands. For it is not joy that makes us grateful; it is gratitude that makes us joyful.”

See Brother David video on gratitude below.

Look for this book in your local library, order from your local bookstore (ISBN=9780809126286), or click HERE to search for this book and related recommendations and discussion on
(The above Goodreads link is offered for the benefit and convenience of our visitors. This website and its editors have no financial connection to or its affiliated booksellers.)

~~~ Resources on Gratitude from the TED Blog ~~~

Posted on the TED website by: 

Gratefulness isn’t always something that comes easily. Below, some reading and watching to get you into a thankful headspace.

  1. Watch: “Want to be happy? Be thankful.” This TED Talk from David Steindl-Rast is the perfect Thanksgiving appetizer. In it, the Benedictine monk and interfaith scholar talks about what, exactly, it means to be grateful and offers a simple process for living gratefully: stop, look and go. Instead of rushing through life, he asks us to see the opportunities that are available and open ourselves up to them. This isn’t an idle or even simply personal concern: gratefulness has broad social implications. “If you’re grateful, you’re not fearful, and if you’re not fearful, you’re not violent. If you’re grateful, you act out of a sense of enough and not out of a sense of scarcity and are willing to share,” Steindl-Rast says. 

  2. Read: “A Serving of Gratitude May Save the Day.” This 2011 article in The New York Times shares that gratitude “has been linked to better health, sounder sleep, less anxiety and depression, higher long-term satisfaction with life and kinder behavior toward others, including romantic partners.” From there, writer John Tierney consults psychologists whose work falls in the area of gratitude for tips on how to feel more of it during the hectic Thanksgiving season. It’s a very cool survey of the research going on in this area.
  3. Read: “Are You Thankful or Are You Grateful? And in an essay commissioned for Thanksgiving 13 years ago, David Steindl-Rast describes the difference between thankfulness and gratefulness. “In a moment of gratefulness, you do not discriminate. You fully accept the whole of this given universe, as you are fully one with the whole,” he writes. “In the very next moment, when the fullness of gratitude overflows into thanksgiving, the oneness you were experiencing is breaking up. Now you are beginning to think in terms of giver, gift and receiver. Gratefulness turns into thankfulness. This is a different fullness. A moment ago you were fully aware; now you are thoughtful. Gratefulness is full awareness; thankfulness is thoughtfulness.”
  4. Watch: “7 TED Talks to help you give thanks.” From Louie Schwartzberg’s incredible time-lapse photography that inspires deeper reflection on the wonder of nature, to Tania Luna’s inspiring reflection on how a childhood of scarcity allowed her to fully appreciate life as an adult—this playlist of talks is sure to leave you in the right spirit for gratitude.ThankYou-CTA
  5. Read: Zen Habits. In 2005, Leo Babauta — a father of six kids then living in Guam (he’s now in San Francisco) — radically changed his life. He began focusing on spirituality by honoring his emotions, his physical well-being, and the current moment. Soon after, he began this blog, in which he shares his experiences and offers tools for becoming more mindful. Like this: “Put the word ‘Breathe’ as a screensaver or desktop pic, or put it up as a note on your wall or fridge or on your desk. Then do it every time you see the word.”
  6. Listen to: Tara Brach’s podcast. After college, Tara Brach spent 10 years in an ashram, then attended a Buddhist Insight Meditation retreat. “I knew that this was a path of true freedom,” she says on her website. Now armed with a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and a five-year Buddhist teacher training program, Brach works as a psychotherapist and meditation teacher and runs the Insight Meditation Community of Washington, DC. She offers free recordings of her beautiful talks and meditations. They are also available on iTunes.
  7. Read: thxthxthx: Thank Goodness for Everything. Leah Dietrich is brilliant — and hilarious — at being thankful for the mundane. On what look like oversized Post-It notes, she scrawls hand-written thank you notes that raise a chuckle. This effort started as a blog, then became a book and a Twitter feed. A classic, to give you a taste: “Dear Words, Thank you for letting me make art with you. I can’t really draw well, so you’re a big help. See you soon. Love, Leah.”
  8. Watch: Brené Brown on how increasing vulnerability leads to gratitude. Social scientist Brené Brown became a TED superstar for sharing her observations on vulnerability, gleaned from thousands of interviews. Something she didn’t expect to find during the course of her research: “I did not interview in all that time a person who would describe themselves as joyful or their lives as joyous who did not actively practice gratitude. For me, it was very counterintuitive.” Watch her TED Talk, and then hear her explanation of the relationship between joy and gratitude in this short video.

  9. Watch: Room to Breathe. The 2012 documentary Room to Breathe follows a class of San Francisco middle school students as they undergo training by a therapist from Mindful Schools. This Oakland-based nonprofit helps make mindfulness a part of education, defining it as “a particular way of paying attention. It is the mental faculty of purposefully bringing awareness to one’s experience.”
  10. Read: It’s Easier Than You Think. In this book, Sylvia Boorstein, a Jewish-Buddhist meditation teacher and psychotherapist, demystifies spirituality and mindfulness. “Being a meditator and developing equanimity do not mean becoming weird,” she writes at the outset. The idea: spirituality and mindfulness can coexist with drinking coffee or being a passionate football fan. It isn’t about the tools you use or what you do, it’s how you do it.
  11. Study: A step-by-step guide to gratefulness. David Steindl-Rast and his colleagues run, a website that is full of wisdom on the art of thankfulness. One of the most interesting things on the site: this collection of articles, which is designed as a journey of personal reflection or as a guide for group study.

This piece was originally posted in November of 2013. It was updated for Thanksgiving 2014.

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