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About the Book - 365 Thank You image
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As 2007 drew to a close, John Kralik was experiencing the greatest hardships of his fifty-three years. His second marriage was dissolving, a new chance at love had passed him by, his law firm was floundering, he was overweight and out of shape, living in a cramped, hot apartment, and struggling to pay growing personal bills. He did not ring in New Year's Day full of optimism and good cheer—yet when he walked in the hills outside of Pasadena that day, wallowing in his misfortune, a small voice inside his head surprised him with its urgency and told him to be grateful for the few things he did have, instead of dwelling on what he did not. That early morning walk—and the voice—inspired him to embark on a project that would change his life dramatically, and wonderfully.

Over the next year, Kralik decided, he would write a note each day thanking someone in his life for a gift or an act of kindness. He wasn't entirely sure where the project would lead, or if it would even improve his outlook the way he hoped it would, but he knew that everything he'd been trying up until that point hadn't improved his life.

The result of his plan surprised him. He wrote notes to his children, to his ex-wife, to his ex-girlfriend, to his staff at the law firm, to former colleagues, to friends who cared enough to touch base with him as he kept his business afloat during the financial crises of 2008. And he began to receive not only thank-you notes in return, but practical solutions to his life's problems—cash, new business, home repairs, healed relationships, a way to get exercise—so many other positive outcomes that, within a year, his life had entirely turned around. The act of writing thank-you notes, and receiving them, revealed to Kralik that the life he'd been regretting wasn't so bad after all, and that, with a little perspective, some initiative, and a more open heart, his life could even be great.

Kralik's memoir of his first fifteen months spent diligently acknowledging and being grateful for the people and positive aspects of his life is an inspiring and uplifting tale of redemption that shows us how to recognize the good in life and maintain that good, while letting fruitless negativity fall by the wayside.

Discussion Questions

  1. Have you ever had days like the author's "lowest day," or known anyone who was going through a similar situation? What helped you or him or her recover from it? Did you have someone like Kralik's friend Bob around for support? Compare your experience with the author's.
  2. Discuss Kralik's New Year's Day hike and his walk through the mountains. Have you ever had a similar experience—an epiphany or message from your higher self—that helped you later on? What did you think of his grandfather's "silver dollar" lesson?
  3. Discuss Kralik's adoption of the Pollyanna "glad" game. What does it reveal about his character? Discuss too, his relationship with his daughter and its redemptive nature.
  4. When Kralik writes his thank-you notes, he often finds his gratitude is rewarded—either coincidentally or by the people to whom he wrote the notes. What do you think about his take on "good karma" and the small and big acts of kindness bestowed on him during this year? Discuss in particular the instances when his good fortune seemed mostly due to his efforts, and less due to luck, chance, or fate.
  5. What do you think of Kralik's ability to examine his own character flaws, and his former inability to see what was good in those around him? At the end of Chapter 10, titled "Mediation," he writes of his ex-wife: "Either she reacted to the thank-you notes by doing a lot more things that I could appreciate, or she had been doing things that I should have been appreciating all along." What does a statement like this say about the power of self-reflection? Compare this instance with other examples in the book where he stops underestimating others or taking them for granted, and sees more clearly their positive contributions to his life.
  6. Despite Kralik's financial stresses and his relationship problems, it is evident from the beginning of the book that he has a strong circle of friends who care about him. How much do you think his thank-you cards worked, and how much did the consistency of his friends play into his good fortune in 2008? Kralik depicts himself as an ungrateful wretch early in the book, but the presence of his concerned friends, loyal staff, and faithful girlfriend Grace contradict this character description. Discuss whether or not you think the thank-you notes truly changed Kralik's character, or if it merely altered (or refreshed) his perspective.
  7. In the chapter titled "Dr. Hudson's Secret Journal," Kralik writes: "I was learning that it was the hatred in my heart, not the hatred others held for me, that could truly destroy me." Discuss the significance of this statement and its relevance to the entire book. Would this work as a good statement of theme for the memoir? Have you ever had a similar experience with "letting go"? Compare your experience to Kralik's, and discuss what you learned in the process.
  8. In the latter half of 2008, Kralik runs into more financial adversity and further emotional problems. His biggest client becomes insolvent and his girlfriend breaks up with him a second time. Discuss Kralik's response to these new crises and how his perspective has changed so dramatically from where it was the previous year.
  9. Also in the latter half of 2008, Kralik takes up running at the urging of two friends, Neil and Paul. Discuss how the thank-you notes acted as catalysts for these deepening friendships, and how the inclusion of running—despite weak knees and a bad case of asthma—was as redemptive a process for Kralik as his thank-you note writing had been.
  10. Do you send out thank-you notes regularly? Do you receive them? After reading this book, how has your perspective on gratitude—and showing gratitude—changed?