How Can We Fight Negativity? A Conversation with A. J. Jacobs

Everyone wants to be happy. The fact is, however, that we live in a negative world. We all have problems, suffer trials, and we all encounter difficult issues of life which make us feel depressed and pessimistic. A. J. Jacobs believes that thankfulness will make us happier people. He knows what it is like to wake up grumpy in the morning and he has performed an experiment on himself to prove the effects of giving thanks on the human brain. He went on a journey to thank the thousand people involved in the process of getting him the coffee that he drinks at his local coffee shop. From the barista to the woman who is in charge of keeping the bugs out of the coffee beans in storage. He invites us to join him on his journey of gratitude, to reach a positive attitude that would help make us all better people.

Q. Who is A. J. Jacobs?

A.J. Jacobs is a writer who tests the limits of behavior, customs, culture — immersing himself in alternate lifestyles and hilarious experiments (usually with himself as the guinea pig), and reports back on the wisdom and practical knowledge he’s gained.

Discussion questions:

  1. Are you a positive or negative person?
  2. How negative are your culture, co-workers, and family?
  3. Who challenged Jacobs to start his quest? (1:26)
  4. What was the first lesson Jacobs learned? (4:30)
  5. What lesson did Jacobs learn from taste-testing? (6:33)
  6. What did the inventor of the coffee cup lid teach Jacobs about gratitude? (7:56)
  7. How did the lady at the coffee storage react to Jacobs?
  8. What did Jacob’s experiment show us about the inter-dependence of the world?
  9. What are some things you are thankful for?
  10. Who can you thank today?

Important Vocabulary:

Gratitude

Inter-dependance

Barista

Pest-control

Taste-testing

Bible Thoughts to Consider

Proverbs 15:15  “All the days of the afflicted are evil: but he that is of a merry heart hath a continual feast.

Proverbs 17:22  “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.”

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