A Little Happier: Actor B. J. Novak’s Memorable Expression of Gratitude to Two Guys from Grade School.

In discussions of happiness, the subject of gratitude comes up all the time. The feeling of gratitude is one of the key elements to a happy life—but it’s all too easy to forget to feel grateful for the basics of our lives, like electricity, or to overlook who and what we should feel grateful for.

I’m a huge fan of B. J. Novak. He’s an actor, comedian, screenwriter; he founded a terrific app called “li.st” for sharing lists; and he also played the deliciously awful character of Ryan in my family’s all time-favorite TV show, The Office (American version). As if all that wasn’t enough, he also wrote a terrific book of essays, One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories.

I always love reading the Acknowledgements section of any book, and in One More Thing, Novak has two pages thanking various people. He concludes with a final paragraph:

“Josh Funk and Hunter Fraser: we haven’t been in touch in years, but you made me feel like the funniest kid in the world. I would stay up late on school nights to write things to try to make you laugh the next day in class, and you inspired the one piece of advice on writing that I’ve ever felt qualified to give: write for the kid sitting next to you.”

This beautiful acknowledgment made me think of many things, but in particular, it reminded me that we never know how our actions and our words will affect other people. These two guys! Their enthusiasm may have been a crucial catalyst for Novak’s career.

And of everyone in his long, successful career that he should thank, he remembered to say thank-you to these two guys from childhood.

If you were going to write your own Acknowledgments, is there anyone you’d thank, who might be surprised to see himself or herself listed? Is there anyone from way back in childhood? A teacher, a neighbor, a teammate?

It’s strange, and even a little eerie, to think of how we all have so much influence over each other, even when we don’t realize it.

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