The Difference Gratitude Makes…

Psalms 118:29 O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good: for his mercy endureth forever.

How A Simple Act Of Gratitude Changed One Man’s Life – And Can Transform Yours Too

“Until you learn to be grateful for the things you have, you will not receive the things you want,” is what the voice in John Kralik’s head said to him on one New Year’s Day in Pasadena.

Rewinding a few years ago on January 9, 2010 I received a phone call that would change my life forever. I pulled into the parking lot at the Flint Center in Cupertino for an event and saw that I had a missed call and a voicemail from my aunt. I had the feeling in my bones that something was wrong. She said something happened to my father and I needed to get to the hospital. That was all the information I had; there was a million thoughts going through my mind.

My girlfriend drove back and as we were on the freeway I received the worst news possible from my sister. As she uttered the words I dropped my cell phone and felt a puddle of tears in my palms, she said my father passed away from a heart attack. When I arrived to the hospital his body was still warm and I couldn’t help to think he was going to wake up. My mother was 7,500 miles away in Afghanistan and my sisters and I were at a loss for words in the waiting room.

I didn’t expect the tragic event on January 9, I just had dinner with close friends at my father’s restaurant where he cooked us a meal the night before. For months after my life was spiraling in the wrong direction. I tweeted Tony Robbins and asked him what he recommended. He actually tweeted back a suggestion and I picked up a set of his tapes. Instead of getting what I wanted (which was to get my health in order), I got what I needed. My first experience with gratitude.

Have I always been thankful for everything in my life? Of course. But I never practiced gratitude until then. Recently, I stumbled on a book called A Simple Act of Gratitude by John Kralik. I don’t know how it got on my book shelve, almost as if it was meant to be there. I read the first 10 pages and it hit me like a ton of bricks. It’s about a guy whose life was a disaster. He was miserable, broke, overweight, and on his second divorce living in a crumby apartment in LA with no air conditioning. He was an attorney and he couldn’t afford to pay his employees their Christmas bonuses because his clients weren’t paying their bills on time — and sometimes not paying them at all.

John Kralik

John Kralik

It’s easy to complain about your life until you have someone else’s life to compare to. How did this guy survive? What did he do to overcome adversity? I wanted to know more about his journey so I read on. His story is about gratitude, but what did he have to be thankful for?

The premise is that John had an epiphany while he was hiking in the hills of LA on New Year’s Day. He decided that his goal was to write one thank you note each day for the next year, for a total of 365 thank you notes. He wanted to find a reason to be thankful and grateful every single day. Incredibly enough, there were things right under his nose to be thankful for that he hadn’t noticed.

I recently caught up with John to see how his life has evolved since the publishing of his book. There are countless studies about how practicing gratitude can improve you overall well-being. Nonetheless, John’s story has caught on fire; he’s written and received over 2,000 thank you notes to this day. John said that writing the thank you notes over the course of the year taught him to value the good things and created a discipline of positive focus. “Gratitude presses outwards and that creates good feelings in the universe. A lot of that comes back to you eventually,” he said.

Receiving a hand written thank you card delivers a special meaning, especially if you want to make an impression. John explains, “When you receive something from a machine, there’s inevitably a feeling that the machine generated it and it’s disposable. When a prospective employer or client or someone you’re trying to network with receives a thank you note as a courtesy that’s going to make you stand out. It’s going to create something around you that isn’t there and sets you apart. It’s going to give you a certain amount of peace and confidence that you have had a good life, and you have had a lot going for you.”

His story inspired me to think about the people who I should thank. I wrote my first thank you note to my better half:

Dear Dana,

 You are my source of inspiration. Thank you for driving me to become a better man, I hope through this I can become a better husband and father. You do so much for me out of the kindness of your heart, and for that I will always be grateful. We may be two different people, but combined our hearts fit perfectly together.



Expressing gratitude will give you positive emotions, but the purpose of writing the notes is because it’s the right thing to do. John says our natural tendency is to notice the 9 bad things that happened to us each day, but instead what if we focused on the one good thing? If you’re interested in practicing gratitude by writing thank you notes you should consider reading his book and putting the practice into play. Make it fun and challenge yourself to write 30 thank you notes in 30 days. I record mine in an excel spreadsheet to remember who I wrote to and what the specific message was. You’ll notice the more you write the better your notes will get.


John’s book is about someone who thought he didn’t have anything to be thankful for. It’s the story of how he started to notice those things. “If you write a book about the best in people, you connect with the best people,” he explains. To paraphrase Edmund Wilson, gratitude is one of those rare things you get more of by giving it away.

Today’s article was written by Omaid Homayun and is shared from the following website:

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What Do You Want to Be Remembered For? The Meaning of True Success

To do more for the world than the world does for you, that is Success Henry Ford

The Charles Schulz Philosophy

The following inspirational quiz is often called the Charles Schulz Philosophy or sometimes Charlie Brown’s Philosophy.  It’s not actually written by him, although the quote at the bottom is from a peanuts cartoon. Enjoy the following quiz.

Name the five wealthiest people in the world.

2. Name the last five Heisman trophy winners.

3. Name the last five winners of the Miss America.

4. Name ten people who have won the Nobel or Pulitzer Prize.

5. Name the last half dozen Academy Award winners for best actor and actress.

6. Name the last decade’s worth of World Series winners.

How did you do?

The point is, none of us remember the headliners of yesterday. These are no second-rate achievers. They are the best in their fields. But the applause dies. Awards tarnish. Achievements are forgotten. Accolades and certificates are buried with their owners.

Here’s another quiz. See how you do on this one:

1. List a few teachers who aided your journey through school.

2. Name three friends who have helped you through a difficult time.

3. Name five people who have taught you something worthwhile.

4. Think of a few people who have made you feel appreciated and special.

5. Think of five people you enjoy spending time with.


The lesson: The people who make a difference in your life are not the ones with the most credentials, the most money, or the most awards. They are the ones that care.

“Don’t worry about the world coming to an end today. It’s already tomorrow in Australia.”
-Charles Schulz

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We All Need Help…

Never assume that you can make it alone You need the help of the Lord Never hesitate to get on your knees in some private place and speak with him Gordon B. HinckleyA Pastor’s Act of Kindness Saves Three

The following story is told in more detail by Ilene Wright. Here is my abbreviated version:

Years ago, Ilene’s preacher noticed the family standing in front of him at a New Orleans convenience store did not have enough money to pay for their few items. He tapped the man on the shoulder and said, “You don’t need to turn around, but please accept this money.” The man took the money without ever seeing the preacher.

Nine years later, the pastor was invited to speak at a church in New Orleans. After the service, a man walked up to the preacher and shared this story about how he had come to faith in Christ: “Several years ago, my wife and our child were destitute. We had lost everything, had no jobs, no money and were living in our car. We also lost all hope, and agreed to a suicide pact, including our child. However, we decided to first give our son some food, so we drove to a convenience store to buy him some food and milk.”

“While we were standing in line at the store, we realized that we did not have enough money to pay for these items, but a man behind us asked us to please take the money from his hand and not look at him. This man told us that ‘Jesus loves you.’”

“We left the store, drove to our designated suicide site, and wept for hours. We couldn’t go through with it, so we drove away. As we drove, we noticed a church with a sign out front which said, ‘Jesus love you.’ We went to that church the very next Sunday, and both my wife and I were saved that day.”

He then told the pastor, “When you began speaking this morning, I knew immediately that you were the man who gave us that money.” How did he know? The pastor was from South Africa and had a very distinct accent. He continued, “Your act of kindness was much more than a simple good deed. Three people are alive today because of it.”

A gentle challenge: Maintain your spiritual antennae, remembering that God can multiply the smallest gift many times over.

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Glory to God in the Highest…

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men Luke 2:14

A Christmas Story

Author Unknown

In September 1960, I woke up one morning with six hungry babies and just 75 cents in my pocket. Their father was gone. The boys ranged from three months to seven years; their sister was two. Their Dad had never been much more than a presence they feared. Whenever they heard his tires crunch on the gravel driveway they would scramble to hide under their beds.

He did manage to leave $15 a week to buy groceries. Now that he had decided to leave, there would be no more beatings, but no food either. If there was a welfare system in effect in southern Indiana, at that time, I certainly knew nothing about it.

I scrubbed the kids until they looked brand new and then put on my best homemade dress. I loaded them into the rusty old 51 Chevy and drove off to find a job. The seven of us went to every factory, store and restaurant in our small town. No luck.

The kids stayed, crammed into the car and tried to be quiet while I tried to convince whomever would listen that I was willing to learn or do anything. I had to have a job.

Still no luck.

The last place we went to, just a few miles out of town, was an old Root Beer Barrel drive-in that had been converted to a truck stop. It was called the Big Wheel. An old lady named Granny owned the place and she peeked out of the window from time to time at all those kids.

She needed someone on the graveyard shift, 11 at night until seven in the morning. She paid 65 cents an hour and I could start that night. I raced home and called the teenager down the street that baby-sat for people. I bargained with her to come and sleep on my sofa for a dollar a night. She could arrive with her pajamas on and the kids would already be asleep. This seemed like a good arrangement to her, so we made a deal.

That night, when the little ones and I knelt to say our prayers, we all thanked God for finding Mommy a job. And so I started at the Big Wheel.

When I got home in the mornings I woke the baby-sitter up and sent her home with one dollar of my tip money-fully half of what I averaged every night.

As the weeks went by, heating bills added another strain to my meager wage.

The tires on the old Chevy had the consistency of penny balloons and began to leak. I had to fill them with air on the way to work and again every morning before I could go home. One bleak fall morning, I draggedwagged myself to the car to go home and found four tires in the back seat.

New tires!

There was no note, no nothing, just those beautiful brand new tires. Had angels taken up residence in Indiana? I wondered. I made a deal with the owner of the local service station. In exchange for his mounting the new tires, I would clean up his office. I remember it took me a lot longer to scrub his floor than it did for him to do the tires. I was now working six nights instead of five and it still wasn’t enough.

Christmas was coming and I knew there would be no money for toys for the kids. I found a can of red paint and started repairing and painting some old toys. Then I hid them in the basement so there would be something for Santa to deliver on Christmas morning. Clothes were a worry too. I was sewing patches on top of patches on the boys pants and soon they would be too far gone to repair.

On Christmas Eve the usual customers were drinking coffee in the Big Wheel. These were the truckers, Les, Frank, and Jim, and a state trooper named Joe. A few musicians were hanging around after a gig at the Legion and were dropping nickels in the pinball machine. The regulars all just sat around and talked through the wee hours of the morning and then left to get home before the sun came up.

When it was time for me to go home at seven o’clock on Christmas morning I hurried to the car. I was hoping the kids wouldn’t wake up before I managed to get home and get the presents from the basement and place them under the tree. (We had cut down a small cedar tree by the side of the road down by the dump.) It was still dark and I couldn’t see much, but there appeared to be some dark shadows in the car-or was that just a trick of the night?

Something certainly looked different, but it was hard to tell what. When I reached he car I peered warily into one of the side windows. Then my jaw dropped in amazement. My old battered Chevy was filled full to the top with boxes of all shapes and sizes. I quickly opened the driver’s side door, scrambled inside and kneeled in the front facing the back seat.

Reaching back, I pulled off the lid of the top box. Inside was a whole case of little blue jeans, sizes 2-10! I looked inside another box: It was full of shirts to go with the jeans. Then I peeked inside some of the other boxes: There were candy and nuts and bananas and bags of groceries.

There was an enormous ham for baking, and canned vegetables and potatoes. There was pudding and Jell-O and cookies, pie filling and flour. There was a whole bag of laundry supplies and cleaning items. And there were five toy trucks and one beautiful little doll.

As I drove back through empty streets as the sun slowly rose on the most amazing Christmas Day of my life, I was sobbing with gratitude. And I will never forget the joy on the faces of my little ones that precious morning.

Yes, there were angels in Indiana that long-ago December. And they all hung out at the Big Wheel truck stop.

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For Unto You is Born This Day…

For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior, which is Christ the Lord Luke 2:11

A Dozen Christmas Roses

Author Unknown

Bobby was getting cold sitting out in his back yard in the snow. Bobby didn’t wear boots; he didn’t own any and he didn’t like them anyway. The thin sneakers he wore had a few holes in them and they did a poor job of keeping out the cold. Bobby had been in his backyard for about an hour already. And, try as he might, he could not come up with an idea for his mother’s Christmas gift.

He shook his head as he thought, “This is useless, even if I do come up with an idea, I don’t have any money to spend.”

Ever since his father had passed away three years ago, the family of five had struggled. It wasn’t because his mother didn’t care, or try, there just never seemed to be enough. She worked nights at the hospital, but the small wage that she was earning could only be stretched so far. What the family lacked in money and material things, they more than made up for in love and family unity. Bobby had two older sisters and one younger sister, who ran the house hold in their mother’s absence. All three of his sisters had already made beautiful gifts for their mother.

Somehow it just wasn’t fair. Here it was Christmas Eve already, and he had nothing. Wiping a tear from his eye, Bobby kicked the snow and started to walk down to the street where the shops and stores were. It wasn’t easy being six without a father, especially when he needed a man to talk to.

Bobby walked from shop to shop, looking into each decorated window. Everything seemed so beautiful and so out of reach. It was starting to get dark and Bobby reluctantly turned to walk home when suddenly his eyes caught the glimmer of the setting sun’s rays reflecting off of something along the curb. He reached down and discovered a shiny dime. Never before has anyone felt so wealthy as Bobby felt at that moment.

As he held his new found treasure, a warmth spread throughout his entire body and he walked into the first store he saw. His excitement quickly turned cold when the salesperson told him that he couldn’t buy anything with only a dime.

He saw a flower shop and went inside to wait in line. When the shop owner asked if he could help him, Bobby presented the dime and asked if he could buy one flower for his mother’s Christmas gift.

The shop owner looked at Bobby and his ten cent offering. Then he put his hand on Bobby’s shoulder and said to him, “You just wait here and I’ll see what I can do for you.”

As Bobby waited he looked at the beautiful flowers and even though he was a boy, he could see why mothers and girls liked flowers.

The sound of the door closing as the last customer left jolted Bobby back to reality. All alone in the shop, Bobby began to feel alone and afraid. Suddenly the shop owner came out and moved to the counter. There, before Bobby’s eyes, lay twelve long stem, red roses, with leaves of green and tiny white flowers all tied together with a big silver bow. Bobby’s heart sank as the owner picked them up and placed them gently into a long white box.

“That will be ten cents young man,” the shop owner said reaching out his hand for the dime.

Slowly, Bobby moved his hand to give the man his dime. Could this be true? No one else would give him a thing for his dime!

Sensing the boy’s reluctance, the shop owner added, “I just happened to have some roses on sale for ten cents a dozen. Would you like them?”

This time Bobby did not hesitate, and when the man placed the long box into his hands, he knew it was true. Walking out the door that the owner was holding for Bobby, he heard the shop keeper say, “Merry Christmas, son,”

As he returned inside, the shop keeper’s wife walked out. “Who were you talking to back there and where are the roses you were fixing?”

Staring out the window, and blinking the tears from his own eyes, he replied, “A strange thing happened to me this morning. While I was setting up things to open the shop, I thought I heard a voice telling me to set aside a dozen of my best roses for a special gift. I wasn’t sure at the time whether I had lost my mind or what, but I set them aside anyway. Then just a few minutes ago, a little boy came into the shop and wanted to buy a flower for his mother with one small dime.

“When I looked at him, I saw myself, many years ago. I too, was a poor boy with nothing to buy my mother a Christmas gift. A bearded man, whom I never knew, stopped me on the street and told me that he wanted to give me ten dollars.

“When I saw that little boy tonight, I knew who that voice was, and I put together a dozen of my very best roses.” The shop owner and his wife hugged each other tightly, and as they stepped out into the bitter cold air, they somehow didn’t feel cold at all.

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