Wednesday, April 27, 2011

365 Thank Yous by John Kralik

Kralik, John. 365 Thank Yous: The Year a Simple Act of Gratitude Changed My Life. New York: Hyperion, 2010.

365 Thank Yous is, thankfully, not a collection of daily thank you notes. Author and jurist John Kralik set out to write 365 thanks in a year and tells the story of how it changed his life in this book.

Kralik's life was not what he wanted it to be. He had two divorces and another shaky relationship, was alienated from his children, disillusioned with his law career, a failing in his business. Everywhere he looked, he saw mounting problems. He was not grateful—he didn’t know how to spell the word—and he was no reason to be grateful.

A conversation with a friend and a remembrance of his grandfather inspired him to make a New Year’s resolution to write a daily thank you note for a year. It changed both his perspective and the conditions of his life.

I think the change of perspective may be most important. We all have problems and most of us find them to be obvious and easy to remember; we’re surrounded by reminders of our problems. It can be overwhelming. We also have things for which to be grateful, but we sometimes have to strain to think of them.

Kralik’s exercise forced him to look for things to be thankful about. In time, in spite of setback, it became easier for him to find and express gratitude.

I think this change in perspective lead to the changes in his life. He was able to see things to which he was previously blind. The vision of these new opportunities opened the door for new actions. Change in his behavior had new results in his family, business and career.

In fact, in the space of a little more than a year, Kralik went from having his dreams slip away to having almost all that he wanted. He had better relationships with his family, his business was recovering, and he received his dream appointment as a judge.

His life wasn’t perfect. He still had problems. His relationship with his girlfriend was improving, but not all he hoped it could be.

Kralik attributes his turnaround to the practice of finding what he is grateful for and expressing his thanks, especially in writing. I think this is right; his change in circumstances seems to be a result of the change in his viewpoint and behavior related to his practice of gratitude.

Gratitude opens our eyes to the good and valuable people, situations and things in our lives, even if we have to strain to see them. The more we look for them, the easier they become to find. As we get a new view on our lives, especially a more positive light, we can see pathways that aren’t clear when we’re focused on our problems.

If you’re interested in this book, you may also be interested in
The 4:8 Principle by Tommy Newberry
Gratitude by Melody Beattie
Thanks! by Robert A. Emmons
Why Good Things Happen to Good People by Stephen Post and Jill Neimark