A Simple Act of Gratitude: How Learning to Say Thank You Changed My Life by John Kralik is the true story of a life transformed by gratitude.
I’ve been writing thank you note most of my life, and after reading this book I felt inspired to write even more! In this review, I will share a little about the book and why I liked it.
At the start of the book, we learn that John Kralik is a lawyer (he is now a judge). He is also a broke lawyer. I grew up believing that all doctors and lawyers were rich! Now that I’m a grown-up I know that is not always the case. I liked that he shared how he came to be broke.
John is fearful of not being able to make payroll for his firm. His personal life was nothing to write home about. He was going through a very slow second divorce and was not close with his older children. And then his girlfriend breaks up with him.
The Simple Act of Gratitude
One day John has an experience in the woods and a voice tells him “Until you learn to be grateful for the things you have, you will not receive the things that you want”. John’s simple act of gratitude is thank you note writing. After hearing the voice he decides to write 365 thank you notes in a year (it takes him 15 months).
Thank you note writing is new to John. He shares that he never wrote them even before, not even for Christmas presents. His first thank-you note is for a Christmas gift from one of his sons.
The thank-you note writing
Throughout the book, John shares many of the thank-you notes that he writes to family, friends, co-workers, clients, and the guy behind the counter at Starbucks. We see how the thank-you notes impact him and those that receive the notes.
As far as I remember, all of the notes were handwritten. The notes are a way to connect with others and show his appreciation to those working for him.
He struggles with clients that do not pay. Then he begins sending a thank-you note to the clients that do pay on time. His firm’s bank account begins to improve.
The book does NOT contain all 365 thank you notes that John wrote. John kept the first drafts in a spreadsheet so some of the thank you notes share are not exactly as they were written in real life. This disclaimer left me wondering how they were changed. But since he didn’t keep the final draft, we will never know!
More than just thank-you notes
This book is evidence that thank-you notes can and do make a difference. The thank you notes become a way for John to reconnect with some people.
Old friends that had helped him long ago receive thank-you notes. We get to see the impact of the notes on his life and the lives of others.
Three things I really liked
1. John may have set out to write a daily thank you note, but in his life, this is not how it happens. He is a very busy man spending time with his daughter and his business. He writes his thank-you notes in batches. He didn’t delay them for too long, but he found it was easier to write several at one time. I like this because I can see how it could be difficult to find someone each day to thank and also write them a thank you note that same day.
2. He is honest. He shared about the good and not so good aspects of his life. I liked how he and his life changes by the end of the book. It reads like an underdog story.
3. He learns people’s names. Before the thank-you note project, he would often not learn the names of those helping him. When he goes on a trip he learns the names of those that assist him.
A comment about the voice
I kept waiting for the voice to be attributed to God. At first, this was because I am Christian and like it when God gets the credit. But then, I wanted to know just for the sake of knowing where John thought the source of the voice was. John doesn’t give us his opinion on the source.
A question to ponder
The process of thank-you note writing changes John’s life. Was it the thank you note writing or choosing to be more grateful and appreciative that changed his life? Could the same result have been obtained without writing the thank-you notes? Regardless of the answer, John’s story will inspire you to write thank-you notes. The change in his life is remarkable.
If you have read this book, do you start writing more thank you notes? If you have not read this book, I encourage you to read it!
The official site for this book is www.365thankyounotes.com.