Local author knows the benefits of gratitude

Live Like Sam presentation set for Feb. 7

Live Like Sam: ‘Seven Pillars of Gratitude’ by Joel Zuckerman

Award-winning author, speaker and Park City resident Joel Zuckerman will talk about the “Seven Pillars of Expressive Gratitude” during an event for Live Like Sam on Feb. 7, at the Deer Crest Club, St. Regis Deer Valley.
Courtesy of Joel Zuckerman

Live Like Sam is a nonprofit that works to inspire youth from all backgrounds to develop self-awareness, courage, leadership, kindness, healthy mental wellness and joy through life-skills training and character development.

And to further its work, founder Ron Jackenthal, whose son Sam died after a skiing accident in 2015, has asked award-winning local author Joel Zuckerman to give a presentation titled the “Seven Pillars of Expressive Gratitude.”

The event starts with a reception at 5:30 p.m., on Wednesday, Feb. 7, at the Deer Crest Club, St. Regis Deer Valley, with Zuckerman’s talk beginning at 6:30 p.m.

Tickets are available now by visiting

I’m someone who learned gratitude brick by brick, letter by letter over the years.” Joel Zuckerman, author and speaker

Zuckerman, the author of nine books in total, with his most recent titled “Grateful,” said he and Ron worked together to create the presentation.

“I think the people who run the nonprofits are grateful to the community and to those who support them, and I think the people who support the nonprofits are grateful that the things and programming they offer exist,” Zuckerman said. “So, the whole nonprofit space operates in this universe of gratitude.”

While Zuckerman, who is also known for his books about golf, says he’s not an expert on gratitude, he does have a unique relationship with the concept.

“I have a homegrown, organic understanding of gratitude that most people have not, yet, discovered, and it’s because of this very unusual hobby that I’ve developed over the past 10 years,” he said. “I have written 230 letters of gratitude.”

The difference between letters of gratitude and thank you notes is simple, according to Zuckerman, who is also host of the “Mostly Grateful” podcast. 

“Thank you notes are something I’ll write if someone invites me to dinner or if they give me a present,” he said. “Letters are different, and the difference is I may thank you for something specific, but it’s more that I’m thanking you for being you.”

The importance of writing letters of gratitude is also clear to Zuckerman.

“Everybody knows it’s good to be grateful, and everyone knows that we should be grateful,” he said. “Everyone knows that having an attitude of gratitude is a good thing, but they don’t live a grateful life. So, we all know it, but most of us don’t do it.”

Zuckerman feels it’s also just as important to tell people that you are grateful that they are who they are.

“On my stationery, if you get a letter of gratitude from me, the first thing you see is a quote by an author named William Arthur Ward,” he said. “It reads, ‘Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.’ On that same token, there is a shorter and more-to-the-point quote by author Gertrude Stein that says, ‘Silent gratitude isn’t very much use for anyone.'”

The purpose of the Feb. 7 presentation is to also help people think more deeply about gratitude, Zuckerman said.

“I will speak about proactive gratitude, and not reactive gratitude,” he said. “And while I’m not a psychologist or a behavioral therapist, I’m someone who learned gratitude brick by brick, letter by letter over the years. And it changed me.”

Zuckerman discovered what he called the “benefits of deep, proactive gratitude when he wrote those letters.

“(The benefits) include pro equanimity, lower blood pressure, better sleep patterns and other physiological changes that can benefit the body,” he said.

“Grateful” is the latest book penned by award-winning author, speaker and Parkite Joel Zuckerman.
Courtesy of Joel Zuckerman

Zuckerman’s website,, also promotes gratitude.

“TIGER is an acronym for Tapping Into Gratitude Engenders Rewards,” he said. “It’s a different way of saying ‘It’s better to give than to receive.'”

Zuckerman’s discussion will center around these seven, life-changing points of letter writing:  

  1. It makes you, the letter writer, feel good
  2. It makes the recipient feel good
  3. It makes the recipient feel good about you
  4. It’s a creative process, and everyone needs to be more creative
  5. It turns the letter writer’s focus outward
  6. There’s a ripple effect: you send a letter, the recipient is taken aback and maybe they write a letter to someone else.
  7. A legacy effect

Two things can happen to emphasize the legacy effect, Zuckerman said.

“Either you pass away before the recipient or the recipient passes away before you,” he said. “Of the 230 letters I’ve written, about 10 letter recipients have passed away, and every time I hear that someone I know has passed away, I am really glad I wrote them a letter.”

As far as the writer passing away before the recipient, Zuckerman said he, thankfully, doesn’t have any personal experience just yet.

“But I hope when that day comes, people will say ‘they are sorry to hear this news,'” he said. “That’s the gist of my message.”

More Like This, Tap A Topic

See more

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Park City and Summit County make the Park Record's work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.