Joe Boeke's Reviews > 365 Thank Yous: The Year a Simple Act of Daily Gratitude Changed My Life

365 Thank Yous by John Kralik
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's review
Jun 05, 2011

really liked it
Read from June 24 to July 01, 2011 — I own a copy , read count: 1

I first looked at this book in a college bookstore, on a shelf filled with books for graduates, and students entering college. At first, I thought that perhaps it was a little out of place, immediately thinking it was a typical self-help book. I didn't end up buying the book then, but when I ran across it again at my local bookstore, I decided to pick it up on the basis of the cover recommendation by The Last Lecture co-author Jeffery Zaslow (whose NY Times column I frequently read).

Kralik's book is an accessible and easy read, and I was happy to find that it isn't really a self-help book at all, rather it is a personal memoir of a particular year or so in his life. It isn't great literature, nor is it a "step-by-step" guide to picking yourself up by the bootstraps a la a Wayne Dyer type book. So, it isn't really pop-psychology, nor is it preachy...The crux of the book is Kralik's desire to try and look at his life through a different lens. Rather than continuing to be bitter and angst ridden over all the problems in his life, Kralik sought to try and find things to be thankful for, and to do so every single day for a year.

As he goes through his thank you letter exercise, not only is Kralik able to gain a new (and better) perspective on his own life, he starts to equate the turn-around in his fortunes, as evidenced by some of the good things happening in his life, to his thank you letter writing campaign. Which not only reinforced his mission, but recalled his earliest experience writing a thank you note to his grandfather:

He promised that if I wrote him a letter thanking him for this silver dollar, he would send another one. That was the way thank-you letters work he told me.

I think that one of the reasons this book struck a chord with me, is that I can recall being "chained" (figuratively, not literally) to my desk after my high school graduation, writing thank you notes to all of the people who sent me gifts. At the time, it was the last thing I wanted to do, but I remember my Mother explaining that not only was it the right thing to do, but that good things would follow...

As I read through the book, I found myself drawn closer and closer to Kralik's narrative. Initially this had as much to do with the fact that our lives seemed eerily parallel. To begin with, we worked in the same part of town (at the same time he was going through his letter writing campaign) and I've been to almost every place that he mentions in the book (in fact we could have easily bumped into each other at any one of several local places). Our careers were briefly intertwined, when we both worked for the same company in the early 1990s...

But most importantly, I think I can really relate to how Kralik perceived himself in 2008. Like him, I had been through the divorce ringer, I wasn't happy with how my career was progressing, and wasn't fulfilled by my work. On top of that, I felt that my personal relationships were at an all time nadir.

Kralik's solution to these "problems" was to begin to look for things to be thankful for (and to write his thank you notes). This is certainly a "therapy 101" solution to these kinds of challenges, and isn't (or at least shouldn't be) an earth shattering epiphany for most people. But for me at least, reading Kralik's memoir has given me the opportunity to look at my own life and consider all of the things in my life for which I am grateful, and if I choose to write a few more thank you notes as a result...then all the better.

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