Prior to our trip to the library earlier this week, I did a quick catalog search for books about gratitude. I was really looking for picture books to share with my son, but then I saw the title 365 Thank Yous: The Year a Simple Act of Daily Gratitude Changed My Life, by John Kralik. Hey, that sounds familiar… I thought. The timing for stumbling upon this book was perfect. I had been struggling with my own gratitude project, wondering whether I should continue. The process of generating an idea, writing a post and finding a somewhat related image EVERY DAY was taking all my free time after my wife and son went to bed. It wasn’t leaving much time for reading my stack of waiting books or spending time on the multitude of other projects I had going, which made me rather grumpy. On one of my beloved runs this week, I tried to return to the motivation behind this project. I recalled that my purpose for doing this was to express thanks to all of the people in my life for whom I am truly thankful. I felt the gratitude in my own heart, but its power was limited until I shared it with the deserving recipient. I owed it to those individuals to share my thanks for the role they play in my life. I realized I felt a little bogged down in this project because I had forgotten that this project wasn’t supposed to be about me, it was supposed to be about others. Whoops.
That’s where John Kralik’s book comes in. I felt that reading his experience could give me the motivation I needed to recommit and get back to the heart of this project: Thanking others. It did. I checked out the ebook and started that night. Kralik’s disarming and honest personal narrative quickly draws you in. I completed the book in two sittings. In the book, John Kralik shares his story of how adopting a daily habit of expressing gratitude in the form of thank you notes to others helped turn his life around. The book is highly encouraging. As Kralik shares anecdotes about the many wonderful people in his life, you are prompted to consider your own life and all of the magnificent people who have contributed to the person you are today. Though the book documents a year in the life of the author, it is largely about the people in his life who generously give of their time and resources.
Kralik writes in his acknowledgments:
The heroes of my story are the more than four hundred people to whom I have written thank-you notes over the last two years.
So often we get the message in our culture, “You are the hero of your own story.” I understand that this might serve as motivation to those who have been trodden upon and feel as though they lack agency or control over their lives. However, once you progress past that stage, staking all your belief in that statement can be damaging. It can cause us to look at our accomplishments as solely a result of our own doing. If so, we miss out on the beauty that others have contributed to our lives and we don’t gain a proper appreciation for how much we need each other.
On day 50, I recommit to this project, because I have many more heroes to thank.