Book: Thanks a Thousand

I have issues with focusing on here and now. I tend to be very future-oriented, rapidly jumping from goal to goal. This makes focusing on the present moment a bit difficult and something that I have to put conscious effort into. AJ Jacobs has a similar problem, so in this charming book,  he resolved to thank everyone involved in making his morning cup of Coffee.

He set a goal of thanking a thousand people from the barista to inventor of a paper cup, dock workers who carried the coffee beans to owners of the coffee plantation in Colombia. This picturesque adventure is intertwined with findings of the science of gratitude.

  1. The crucial thing is to stop and notice what you grateful for
  2. Grounding yourself in the moment and coming back to here and now is key
  3. If you act as if you are grateful, you will become grateful

Yep, there is a TED talk.


The other angle presented in the book  (and something to be grateful for) is that the modern world is incredibly interconnected. The logistic chains go around the globe, and it is impossible to untangle the threads of global commerce. This synergy is a good thing since global trade increases peace as described by Yuval Noah Harrari and reduces global poverty, as explained by Hans Rosling.


AJ Jacobs also was a guest on Tim Ferriss show podcast. Except for the concepts in this book, he described that he has a file called „The One Thing” in which he notes one takeaway from every article he reads. I love this idea and started keeping my own. It is also an excellent benchmark to tell me if I want to read/continue a specific piece of writing. If I can’t see a takeaway, I’ll just stop reading.

I am searching for practical ways to practice gratitude for some time now. So far these two have stuck:

My Kindle highlights

  • My three boys are required to write old-fashioned handwritten thank-you notes when they get birthday gifts, much to their disbelief.
  • I’m mildly to severely aggravated more than 50 percent of my waking hours. That’s a ridiculous way to go through life. I don’t want to get to heaven (if such a thing exists) and spend my time complaining about the volume of the harp music.
  • We spend far too much time fretting about what we’re missing instead of focusing on what we have.
  • The act of noticing, after all, is a crucial part of gratitude; you can’t be grateful if your attention is scattered.
  • On my way home, I make a pledge. Though I probably won’t hug any other baristas, I promise to look them in the eyes—because I know I’ve been that asshole who thrusts out the credit card without glancing up.
  • “Grateful living is possible only when we realize that other people and agents do things for us that we cannot do for ourselves. Gratitude emerges from two stages of information processing—affirmation and recognition.
  • It’s a key reason gratitude is so difficult to maintain, and why it takes so much effort and intention: If something is done well for us, the process behind it is largely invisible.
  • “Gratitude has a lot to do with holding on to a moment as strongly as possible,” Scott told me. “It’s closely related to mindfulness and savoring. Gratitude can shift our perception of time and slow it down.
  • savoring meditation.
  • We overemphasize individual achievement when, in fact, almost everything good in the world is the result of teamwork.
  • recently read an article about the poet Robert Bly, who said that when he was a kid and skinned his knee, his mother would say, “Just be thankful that you didn’t break your leg.” He
  • a Museum of Modern Art exhibit called “Humble Masterpieces,”
  • But I do believe in WOLO: we only live once.
  • But I’m going to embrace my confirmation bias and stick to believing that coffee is healthy overall.
  • when I’m feeling particularly annoyed about something—the rattle of the air conditioner, say—I’ll repeat a three-word phrase: “Surgery without anesthesia.”
  • My first reaction was, “Hey! This author somehow retroactively
  • A couple of years ago Slate published an article about pallets with the following headline: “The Single Most Important Object in the Global Economy,” which is probably one of the Top Fifty Most Hyperbolic Headlines About Shipping Logistics Ever!
  • When I press send, I realize I have just written possibly the most passive-aggressive thank-you note in history. Thank you, now please change. I’m still waiting to hear back.

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