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Why Be Grateful?

Man SmilingIn this season of Thanksgiving, what’s the point of being thankful? I mean, seriously – why do we have a whole day devoted to giving thanks? There’s psychological evidence that gratitude is unique among emotions in how it promotes well-being – which according to the World Health Organization is essential for true health – “A state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being – not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”. You also feel better physically when you’re grateful than when you feel bitter and disappointed.


I remember when I was a kid and my grandmother gave me a Cabbage Patch doll for Christmas. For the record, I really did not want a Cabbage Patch doll. I wanted a Star Wars toy – an AT-AT Walker, to be precise. I wanted nothing to do with this bigheaded doll, so with all of the wisdom and compassion of a 4 year old at my disposal, I protested loudly and emotionally. My mother made me walk up to my grandmother, however, and thank her. This did not go well. When I was bawling my eyes out, telling Grandma Casey something I really didn’t feel, not only did I feel terrible, but so did she. Ouch.

That’s why, when I’m talking about gratitude, I’m not talking about the words and rituals of gratitude we go through in our culture. I’m talking about the feeling you have when someone gives you something beneficial. They sacrificed to give it to you, and you feel that their only motive was to do the best for you.


If you can’t remember ever feeling this, you have some serious work to do. Volunteer at a homeless shelter, get involved supporting people who have nothing in common with you, or watch a movie like the documentary “God Grew Tired of Us” about Sudanese refugees. We are inundated with gifts every day that we take for granted, and if we’re not grateful for these gifts – which more often than not are completely undeserved – we’re missing out on one of the highest aspects of being human.

What do I mean by that? Psychology journals suggest that gratitude is unique amongst emotions. It helps people negotiate stress and changes in life, and develop more constructive coping strategies, greater satisfaction with their lives and relationships, and overall higher levels of well-being.


What does this have to do with NetworkSpinal and Somatic Respiratory Integration (SRI)?  Advanced Network Chiropractic Care (aka “Level 3″) and Stages 8-12 of SRI’s “12 Stages of Healing” are built on a foundation of gratitude aka “Soul Intelligence”. When dysfunction, disease, and defense are resolved, we have the opportunity to develop that space once occupied by problems and cultivate our best parts. The key to this is gratitude.

We can look back at events where  things did not go well, and then see them with different eyes… or a different “heart”. With my adult heart, looking back at that Christmas, I know that Grandma wanted to give us the best thing she could, because she really loved us and those dolls were very popular at that time – again, she wanted to give us the absolute best. I’m grateful for the love she was sharing that went beyond the form of the doll, and feel deeper love and gratitude for her because of it.

That attitude correlates with Stage 9 in Somatic Respiratory Integration – “The Light Behind the Form” – where we directly experience the joyful light and truth behind the form of any event (whether it is a structure or “thing”, a behavior or “action”, or a perception – a feeling, story, meaning, or belief).

Another example is a chiropractor I know who took a mission trip to Brazil and served a few thousand people. In gratitude, a poor family cooked him a chicken dinner. My friend is a strict vegetarian, so this made him uncomfortable. Yet he saw that they sacrificed the chicken they used to lay their eggs to feed him – they gave him the source of their OWN food. Defending his story about food (“meat is murder”) would be scorning their heartfelt gift, so he chose to receive the love expressed in the gift and ate the meal in gratitude. This reflects the attitude of the 12th Stage of Healing – Community.


On the Network Chiropractic table, Advanced Care shows up as coordinated movement of the upper chest (“heart”) engaging with free flowing spinal movement. Over the course of Advanced Care, the rhythm of the “heart” synchronizes the spine and nervous system – where the heart goes, the body and mind follow – so that we develop new embodied strategies or “reflexes” to respond to physical, mental, and social stress “heart-first”. This is correlated with a sense of gratitude and trust in the body’s experiences, reducing or even eliminating the need to respond to certain events with stress, tension, and dysfunction.

The full embodiment of gratitude allows a wound to be seen and used as a gift, and even for fear to become trust. Said differently:

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, and confusion into clarity…. It turns problems into gifts, failures into success, the unexpected into perfect timing, and mistakes into important events. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” ~Melodie Beattie

This is not limited to silly events like an awkward Christmas… even the most painful or traumatic event, from this level of health, reveals some gifts.

Which brings us back to gratitude, because without gratitude, there is no Advanced Care or “Level 3 Network Care” — the spine and nervous system will not support it. To live in that state, gratitude becomes a discipline, a spiritual practice. In other words…


As John F. Kennedy said:


With that in mind, here are some questions that can help cultivate an attitude of gratitude:

  • Upon whose shoulders do you stand?
  • Who has made sacrifices for you? Who has taken those same things for granted?
  • Whatever you have or possess, who helped you get there?
  • Who helped that person get what they received?  (Whether it was intentionally a gift, or gifts received through wounding.)
  • How are your gifts sponsoring the next generation… and the generation beyond that? (Whether you are aware of your gifts or not.)
  • How does your life express your gratitude for these gifts?

When the mind supports the soul with gratitude, your evolution continues far beyond the road commonly traveled. At the end of the day, that’s where life calls us all—to wake up inside and live our soul’s calling to contribute to others.


For those who say, “But I’m too screwed up, I have to fix myself first before I can offer anything”, I dare to suggest that if you start contributing to others, you will find that a lot of your current problems fall away… or just cease to matter. Volunteering on a cancer hospice ward and also working as a drug rehab counselor for teens put my own life into perspective very fast, and was a catalyst for my own healing. Yes, we all have stuff to work through, and it doesn’t have to put the rest of our lives on hold for years and years while we do that.


I am blessed and grateful that I get to facilitate your journey and bear witness to that process at Intrinsic Care. Thank you for trusting us with the most important parts of your health, and the health of your continued referrals. While I may like to joke about many things, I know you have placed a sacred trust in us, and I never take that trust lightly. Thank you.

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