Finding Daily Gratitude in Thank-You Letters

We've written many times before about the importance and joy to be found in gratitude. We feature the Naikan practice in one of our online courses; we've written about gratitude in the midst of catastrophe and cat bites and of the joy and power in thanking everyone around us. Even with frequent reminders, in the hustle-bustle of the day, those small moments of mindful gratitude can slip by without acknowledgement.

Recently I was feeling the need to remind myself of the importance of noticing and acknowledging reasons to be thankful, so I picked up the book 365 Thank Yous: The Year a Simple Act of Daily Gratitude Changed My Life by John Kralik. Kralik (formerly a lawyer and now a judge) found himself at a very difficult time in his life -- one of those periods of life when you truly believe all the fates are conspiring to make you this miserable -- and he decided to focus on those things he could find to be grateful for and acknowledge them by writing thank-you notes. He set the goal of writing 365 thank-yous in one year.

While the book was a little tainted for me, with its tinge of "do good to get something good for yourself in return," what I most enjoyed about Kralik's book was all the people and situations he found to be thankful for. Yes, he wrote thank-yous to family and friends. But he also wrote thank-yous to the barista at the coffee shop who always greeted him by name; to his clients who paid their bills on time; to his old boss; to the surgeon from many years ago who helped heal his ailment; to restaurant managers, hotel security officers, courtroom clerks, the woman who cut his hair, and his daughter's teacher. I also really appreciated the content of his notes. All of them were brief; but they weren't bland, generic expressions of gratitude, nor did they sound like greeting cards. Each was sincere, specific, succinctly detailed, and included a positive consequence of whatever the receiver had done.

Whenever I feel that I'm drifting away from living my deepest values, it helps me to spend time with others who are modeling my message. Kralik's book has renewed my enthusiasm for writing thank-yous and has inspired me to broaden the outreach of my pen.

~ Marsha

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