Every year, I make one new year's resolution.
Not to make any resolutions.
The reason? I simply recognize who I am.
Almost all resolutions fall into two categories. The first are the hard ones. They end up broken within days -- if not hours.
The second are the easy ones. The things I would end up doing in the new year -- with or without a resolution.
But a new year offers a perfect forum to consider our lives, and, in particular, our relationships with our neighbors.
While getting ready for church last Sunday, I heard a story on NPR that caught my attention. Liane Hansen interviewed a Chicago attorney, John Kralik, about his new book: 365 Thank Yous: The Year A Simple Act of Daily Gratitude Changed My Life.
Mr. Kralik's story began with a 2008 new year's resolution -- to be thankful for the people and good things in his life. What I would classify as a Type One revolution. Destined to be shelved sometime following lunch on 2 January.
But he had a plan. Something quite practical. He would write a thank you note each day. And he did.
Thank you notes. Those little cards that are the bane of brides, nephews, and grandchildren.
But his notes were personal and heartfelt. Always focused on the other person.
It would be easy to dismiss Mr. Kralik's exercise as little more than a clever premise for a book. But I know the power of hand-written notes from personal experience.
I have mentioned my friend John before. He is the very essence of a civil man -- an anti-Aristotelian who embodies the very essence of Aristotelian civility. Concerned for his community. Considerate of others.
He recently helped another friend of mine put together a method to interview businesses. John had plenty of helpful hints. But the one that struck me most was: be certain to send a hand-written thank you note before the end of the day.
Despite the whiff of Edwardian manners, I know how much such notes can mean. In fact, the most recent one I received was from -- John. In his familiar scrawl.
And because he wrote it, something of him was passed along to me. That felt good.
John Kralik said he started his project because he heard a voice tell him: "Until you learn to be grateful for the things you have, you will not receive the things you want."
I would re-edit that sentence to: Until you learn to be grateful for the things you have, you will not receive the things you need. But I understand -- and second -- the premise.
Writing and mailing thank you notes each day in Mexico is probably not possible -- for a number of reasons.
But I can learn to show gratitude more often. Especially, to simply be grateful for the good things that happen each day -- and for the people who have been put in my path.
And, when I can, I will do it with my own hand.
Note: If you would like to read John Kralik's ten suggestions on how to write thank you notes, click your way over to NPR.