Byte of Prevention Blog

by Will Graebe |

Gratitude and Wellness

I love the feeling of receiving a genuine thank you note or email. When I am having a particularly stressful day or feeling a little down about something, a sincere expression of gratitude from a lawyer who I have helped in dealing with a malpractice claim can lift me up and out of my funk. But I have also found that expressing my own gratitude can improve my well-being.

My experience is not unique. Multiple studies have found that expressing gratitude can improve a person’s well-being. Research also shows that expressing gratitude can improve relationships. When we express or receive gratitude, the brain produces oxytocin, a hormone that helps to connect people.  Gratitude has also been shown to improve productivity. Researchers at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania found that university fundraisers were 50% more productive when they received expressions of gratitude from students who benefited from the work of the fundraisers. Research has also shown that high levels of gratitude can improve resilience.

Attorney John Kralik’s gratitude journey is an inspiring story of how gratitude pulled him from the depths of unhappiness and a flailing law practice to a life of flourishing. In his book “A Simple Act of Gratitude,” Kralik describes how his life hit rock bottom after a painful divorce and alienation from his children. His law practice was struggling, and he had lost hope. Then, he received a simple thank you note from an ex-girlfriend for a Christmas gift he had given her. He was inspired by her kindness and decided to embark on a year-long journey to write one thank you note a day. He wrote thank you letters to friends, family members, clients, and colleagues. He wrote scribbled thank you notes to restaurant workers and store clerks. His note to a Starbucks employee read, “Knowing that you had to work on Thanksgiving, of all days, I thought I’d express my gratitude that you have taken the time and made the effort to learn my name and greet me each day in a way that makes me feel like a person instead of a number.  It’s a small thing, but on any given day, it can make all the difference.  Thank you!”

By the end of that year, Kralik had restored relationships with friends and family members. He moved from despair to hope and was able to get his practice back on track. All of this was initiated by a simple gratitude practice.

If you are struggling or just want to be little happier, improve personal and work relationships, and become more resilient, consider following Kralik’s lead. As lawyers, we have opportunities every day to thank someone who has positively impacted our day or life.

And, if you really want to experience the benefits of a thank you note practice, handwrite your notes. A recent studyshowed that a handwritten thank you note, as opposed to a typed email or text, offers a greater boost to happiness and well-being for both the sender and recipient.



About the Author

Will Graebe

Will Graebe came to Lawyers Mutual in 1998 as claims counsel. In 2009, Will became the Vice President of the Claims Department and served in that role until 2019. After a two-year sabbatical, Will returned to Lawyers Mutual as claims counsel and relationship manager. In his role as claims counsel, Will focuses primarily on claims related to estates and trusts, business transactions and real estate matters. Will received his J.D. from Wake Forest University School of Law and his undergraduate degree from Stetson University. Prior to joining Lawyers Mutual, will worked in private practice with the law firm of Pinna, Johnston & Burwell.  

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