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365 Thank Yous - Book Review

Book Review by Ann Jonas, Tradebook Buyer - CSB/SJU Bookstores
this review was published in the St. Cloud Visitor.

365 Thank Yous: The Year a Simple Act of Daily Gratitude Changed My Life by John Kralik, Hyperion, January 2011, 240 pp

The Christmas presents have been exchanged and opened.  The next step for many of us is to write thank you notes for the gifts we received.  The just-published book, 365 Thank Yous, inspires readers to not only send thank- you notes, but to focus on what we have, not on what we don't have.

Author Jack Kralik, at age 53, was a down-and-out lawyer, whose law firm was floundering.  In December 2007 he felt he was at the lowest period in his life.  He was going through a painful second divorce and was struggling to maintain a relationship with his two adult sons and his young daughter.  On New Year's Day 2008, Kralik went for a walk on a mountain trail above Pasadena to do some soul-searching.  While on his hike, a voice in his head said "Until you learn to be grateful for the things you have, you will not receive the things you want."  He thought of his late grandfather who had given him a silver dollar when Kralik was five years old.  His grandfather had promised Kralik that if he wrote a thank-you letter for the money, he would receive another dollar.  That was the way thank-you letters worked, his grandfather told him.  While on the trail, Kralik came up with an idea: he would try to find one person to thank each day of the year.  He reasoned that if his grandfather was correct, he would have a lot more of what he was thankful for by the end of the year.  If not, he felt he had little to lose by trying.

Kralik began his crusade by writing thank-you notes to everyone who had given him a Christmas gift. Having completed notes for the material gifts he received, he looked for other, less tangible, gifts to be thankful for.   He discovered that if he hadn't taken on this project, he would not have even noticed gifts such as these in his life. For example, Kralik recognized the personal service he received from the man who served him his coffee at Starbucks and promptly wrote him a quick note of appreciation.  The response he received taught Kralik a lesson: "there is value in the smallest note, and in being thankful for what seems like the smallest thing."  Kralik soon realized that he had not appreciated the treasure he had in his friends, and had neglected to be thankful for many people in his life.

During the year, Kralik realized that clients who owed him fees were much more apt to pay if he wrote them a thank-you note when they made a payment.  And while Kralik's original motive for writing the daily thank you notes seems to be financial gain, he came to see that through the process of writing his thank yous, he gained a "growing sense that my life wasn't so bad after all." 

Thank you by thank you, Kralik's life turned around.  His law firm became profitable, but more importantly, he grew closer to his children, and gained inner peace.  He states that writing thank-you notes makes the world a better place, and made him a better man.

Kralik's memoir moves readers to recognize the good in our lives, rather than the negative.  His story illustrates how the power of gratefulness-and expressing thanks-can change a life.  The book includes a helpful chapter on how to write thank-you notes.

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365 thank yous