Book review: ‘Simple Acts’ turn a life around

Gloria Sinibaldi
Special to the Sun

TAHOE/TRUCKEE – It sounds like a simple concept. There’s not too many of us who haven’t heard it said before: Count your blessings.

The truth is that most of us are so caught up bemoaning our problems we don’t stop long enough to reflect on what those blessings are.

John Kralik, author of “A Simple Act of Gratitude: How Learning To Say Thank You Changed My Life,” was no exception. He titles the opening chapter of his memoir, “The Lowest Day,” where he proceeds to engage in a full-scale pity party falling deeper and deeper into despair with each turn of the page. Kralik tells us he was so despondent, “I didn’t bother to watch out for traffic when I crossed the street.”

His business was failing, he was involved in a legal battle and being sued, his family life was in tatters with two failed marriages behind him and grown sons who barely knew him not to mention that his health was faltering with a 40 pound weight gain and associated aches pains and problems. The one joy in his life that had brought him comfort, the relationship with his girlfriend, Grace, was ending.

John was 52, felt washed up, and as far as he was concerned, a clearly defined failure. But an epiphany of sorts turned his fate around. One simple thank-you note he received from Grace for a Christmas gift he gave her that year in 2007, made all the difference. Learning to say thank you ultimately altered Kralik’s course and changed his life.

Kralik, an attorney who ran a legal firm, wasn’t happy with his profession nor was he happy at all. Nothing made him feel good anymore. He was bitter, broke and disgusted. After receiving the thank-you note from Grace and realizing how much it meant to him he decided to embark upon an experiment. He would reciprocate. Not only would he write a thank-you note back to Grace but he would also write thank you notes to others who had gifted him that Christmas. After all, his nicely embossed office stationary was about to be tossed out since his business was going under and his lease was expiring. Why not use it?

He had nothing to lose. There were 12 notes in all, the first round. One went to his estranged son who had given him a single cup coffee maker. The feedback from his son and from all of the recipients was more than he could have imagined. He decided then and there to commit to an even loftier project. He would write 365 thank-you notes over the course of a year. It wasn’t easy and, yes, he had ups and downs. But in the end he emerged a changed man.

Some might refer to “A Simple Act of Gratitude” as one that females might prefer. With Oprah being the frontrunner with the “gratitude journal,” I suppose it’s not a leap to arrive at this conclusion. But I don’t believe it’s true. “A Simple Act of Gratitude” has universal appeal and sends all of us an important and powerful message; a reminder of what really matters.

– Gloria Sinibaldi resides part-time in South Lake Tahoe. Her short story “A Means To Survive”” appears in “Tahoe Blues.” She is a job coach, trainer and author. She contributes monthly to the business section of the Tahoe Daily Tribune. Contact her at:

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