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365 Thank Yous: The Year a Simple Act of Daily Gratitude Changed My Life Hardcover – Deckle Edge, December 28, 2010
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About the Author
John Kralik was born in Cleveland, Ohio, and attended the University of Michigan for college and law school. He practiced law for 30 years, and was a partner in the law firms of Hughes Hubbard & Reed, Miller Tokuyama Kralik & Sur and Kralik & Jacobs. In 2009, he was appointed to be a judge of the Los Angeles Superior Court. He lives in the Los Angeles area.
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What is gratitude? The dictionary's definition is the state of being grateful; warm and friendly feeling toward a benefactor; kindness awakened by a favor received; thankfulness.
As I was discussing this with a friend, she asked if I had read365 Thank You's by John Kralik. I hadn't, so directly to Amazon I went.
The book is about a 53 year old lawyer, who one December found himself at just about the lowest point in his life. His small law firm, built with the hope of upholding idealistic legal principles, was failing; he was in the throes of a second divorce; distanced from his two older children; concerned about the possible loss of contact with his young daughter; living in a small apartment that was freezing in the winter and roasting in the summer; overweight and dealing asthma; his latest girlfriend having just broken off their relationship; knowing his dream of becoming a judge might remain just that; and wasn't certain what would the future would hold.
While hiking in the hills near his home on New Year's Day, he thought that he might perhaps make his life at least tolerable by focusing upon what he was grateful for rather than what he didn't have.
He had given a Christmas gift to his ex-girlfriend and received a simple, thoughtful thank you note from her. This brought back a memory of his grandfather who, upon receiving a thank you note for a silver dollar he had given him, would send another silver dollar.
John felt that he might find a way to feel grateful by writing thank you notes. His decision not to use a computer was fostered by his feeling that things that are written in cyberspace are easily deleted and forgotten. He wanted people to feel special and felt a hand written note would allow that to happen. John set a goal of writing 365 thank you notes for the coming year which actually turned into a project that was completed in 15 months.
Some thank you's were obvious, others less so. John wrote thank you notes for not only gifts, but the kindness he'd received from others; from family to co-workers and friends, to store clerks, doctors, neighbors and even the barista in his usual Starbucks.
Soon after sending out the first notes John noticed a shift in what was happening in his life. He regained a friendship, financial issues began to resolve, and his older sons began to communicate with him. In the end, John re-established relationships with his sons and old friends, ran a marathon, revived his law firm and actually became a judge.
John found something about which I feel very strongly, namely that showing gratitude and appreciation to others brings fulfillment to our own lives. After all, it's the Law of Attraction...what we give to others comes back to us ten-fold!
"It was New Year's Day. There was new growth all around. It was time to make new resolutions. It was time for change. I had felt this way before, of course; at fifty-two, I had a lot of unfulfilled New Year's resolutions. But this year not only was I a loser at what I was doing, I also didn't want to do it anymore. I wanted to do something more meaningful with my life. I wanted to be more than just another lawyer slinging hatred for a living."
During this time of despair and darkness, he saw some light (I won't spoil it)...and he was inspired to take on a project to write 365 thank yous during 2007. And the story takes you through the next 15 months.
Kralik didn't leave his law practice and find utopia. It wasn't a straight path out to light. The process of sending the Thank You notes led him to redemption, reconciliation and eventually peace. He ground it out finding all of his blessings in his family, in his work, in his friends and in the every day little things that we are often not grateful for. This was an inspiring story which does "encourage, inspire and reaffirm the value and healing power of gratitude."
While I found the book to be inspiring and I would recommend it, I did find it a bit clinical in its delivery. When Kralik describes his relationship with his daughter, it comes alive. When he speaks about a friend struggling with cancer, you can feel the pain. Yet, he is more guarded in bringing detail and color to other matters more personal to him. For example, he asks himself, "What was the common denominator in all of the failed relationships? Me." Yet, no additional color is added. There were a number of other instances where I felt that he could have drawn me closer to his life and story.
That being said, this is Kralik's first book. His work, his writing and his story are exceptional. And be sure to read through the Appendices where Kralik explains that the process of writing thank you notes was not a self-help system or a "new psychological method to delude himself into believing that his life is better than it really is. He goes on to say that "writing thank you notes is a good thing to do and makes the world a better place. It also made me a better man. More than success or material achievement." He's accomplished his mission.