A Simple Act of Gratitude: How Learning To Say Thank You Changed My Life by John Kralik

a simple act of gratitude
a simple act of gratitude

Summary

Have you ever wondered why some people choose to practice gratitude? I mean, when most think about gratitude, they do not think of it being something that you practice, but rather something that you simply feel. 

But science has continually shown there to be benefits to practicing gratitude. Not just a few benefits, but many. People who take the time to practice gratitude and to reflect on the things that they are thankful for tend to experience more positive emotions, feel healthier both mentally and physically, sleep better, and experience fewer depressed thoughts. 

Simply stated, practicing gratitude can and will change your life. This very statement holds true for one man in particular.

In December of 2007, John Kralik, a 53-year-old man from Los Angelas, California had reached a low point in his life: his small law firm was failing due to clients owing him more than $170,000 and not paying; he was struggling through a painful second divorce; he hadn’t talked to his two sons in a few years, he was afraid he might lose contact with his young daughter; he was living in a tiny apartment without heating or air; he was 40 pounds overweight and had developed asthma; and to be quite franked, he had wished that somebody would just hit him as he crossed the street while he stared at his phone.

Then, as John was on a walk all alone on New Year’s Day, he heard a voice in his head. The voice said: “Until you learn to be grateful for the things you have, you will not receive the things you want.”

After receiving a thank you note from his ex for a gift that he had given her on Christmas, he knew it was time to change his life. From that day on, he set out on a mission to listen to that voice in his head and find things to be thankful for – even if it was for something seemingly small.

Day after day, Kralik began to handwrite thank you notes. First to his girlfriend, then to his two sons, and to the Starbucks barista who remembered his name.

In finding gratitude, one of the things the wanted to do was to reconnect with his son. As his law firm was on the edge of going under, he didn’t really have the money to buy lunch. But that day, not only did his son pick up the tab, but his son had also repaid him the money he had borrowed from Kralik a few years earlier – all without Kralik even remembering or asking.

Once he realized how much there was to be grateful for in his life and how it made him feel, he started writing more notes. Kralik wrote notes for gifts or kindnesses he’d received from loved ones and coworkers, from past business associates and current foes, from college friends and doctors and store clerks and handymen and neighbors, and anyone, really, absolutely anyone, who’d done something nice for him.

Note by note, he began to see the benefits of practicing gratitude. He was slowly starting to get his health under control, his relationships were improving, his law firm was getting back on track even during the 2008 economic collapse when so many other businesses were going bankrupt, and most importantly, he felt better about his life. And it’s all because he took the time out of his day to recognize all that he was blessed with in life instead of prioritizing what he lacked.

What I Really Liked About the Book

1. What I really admire the most about this book is how open and honest John is both with his past and current relationships not only with others, but with himself as well. It takes courage and strength to admit the very thoughts one may be thinking, and to be able to admit the dark ones that often filled his head, that’s something that’s worth admiring.

2. I also like the idea of slowing down and finding things to be grateful for. Too often we focus solely on what lacks in our lives instead of all that we are blessed with, as well as we race around at a hundred miles per hour instead of taking the time to slow down and appreciate the world around us. 

This book is the exact opposite of that. It’s about slowing down and appreciating the world around you, about learning to be grateful for what you have instead of what you lack, and why it’s important to focus on the good in life instead of the bad. 

The truth is, there is far more to be grateful for in life than we take the time to acknowledge. A Simple Act of Gratitude will help any reader to realize this and help to clarify why it’s important to be grateful.

3. Lastly, I love the fact that he overlooks no act of kindness. Any act, big or small, John makes sure to extend his gratitude through a thank you note. Whether it’s from others paying him back for money that was owed him, picking up the tab for lunch, or just being there for him when he needed it, Kralik never overlooked an act of gratitude. 

Final Thoughts

I bought this book not knowing what to expect, but after reading it, I can honestly say that I am really glad that I read it. It’s not a New York Times Bestseller or anything, but it has definitely helped me to put into perspective the power of even the smallest act of gratitude and how that one act can help change many lives.

Michael Bonnell

Yesterday’s post: Not Everyone Will Understand You. Just Be True To Yourself And Carry On

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