Last New Year’s Eve, Janice Kaplan, a New York Times bestselling author and former Parade editor-in-chief, “started to wonder what I could do to have a good year ahead. I realized that how I felt during the next 12 months would probably have less to do with actual events than with the mood and spirit I brought to each day. So I decided to spend a year being grateful and finding the bright side of whatever happened.”

What she discovered during that year is revealed in The Gratitude Diaries: How a Year Looking on the Bright Side Transformed My Life (Dutton, Aug.). Kaplan spoke to psychologists, doctors, academics, and researchers and collected stories from friends, colleagues, and people she met over the year, from a Zumba teacher in New Haven to a nonprofit executive in Louisville, Ky. Celebrities including Matt Damon, Daniel Craig, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Jerry Seinfeld shared their gratitude experiences with Kaplan. She began her own experiment with gratitude by deciding she would “be grateful for my husband. I focused on appreciating him and saying thanks more. He responded by doing the same, and with the good vibes between us, we started feeling much closer and having more fun.”

In the book, she explores how gratitude can transform every aspect of a person’s life, with sections on marriage, love, and family; money, career, and the stuff we own; health; and coping, caring, and connecting. “It is not,” promises Kaplan, “done from a spiritual perspective. It’s written for people like me who are busy with life and, while we know we should appreciate it, often forget to. Hopefully, the book will show readers they can stop and take control of their lives, they don’t have to wait for something wonderful to happen.”

The Gratitude Diaries is Kaplan’s “lucky 13th book. It was truly transformative for me. I’ve never written a book that could have a profound effect on people’s lives, and I’ve been so touched by the early comments—friends have called me to say, ‘do you know what this made me do today?’ Gratitude is a topic that’s in the zeitgeist. As soon as you mention it, people can’t wait to hear more about it.”

Kaplan signs galleys of The Gratitude Diaries today in the Penguin Random House booth (3119), 12:30–1:30 p.m. 

This article appeared in the May 29, 2015 edition of PW BEA Show Daily.