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John Luca: The Transformative Power of Thanksgiving

Gift the gift of gratitude — to yourself and those around you

This column has to be about Thanksgiving, my favorite holiday. Though it wasn’t my favorite back when I was more of a bah humbug kind of a guy. Fortunately, that was then.

John Luca
John Luca

Of all the things I have to be grateful for, I am especially grateful for my deepening sense of gratitude. I am thankful that I am thankful.

I’m not trying to be cute here. I know too well the self-inflicted misery of an attitude of not enough in the midst of plenty.

So often we think if we just had that, then we would be happy, and then we would have something to be grateful for.

But it’s gratitude that opens the door to happiness — not the other way around. Gratitude allows happiness to find us.

I, for one, have never found an end to my desires. What about you? And we all know what happens when we get what we want: Often we want more, we want different. We get unhappy.

Gratitude breaks the unhappiness cycle. Gratitude is an acceptance and an appreciation for things just as they are, including ourselves. Gratitude is a sigh of relief. With gratitude, you can feel your shoulders relax and your heart open.

“Thank you for everything.” If we can say that and mean it, it’s like tasting the timeless beauty and perfection of the world as it is — right here, right now, even if just for a moment. It’s pretty cool. And pretty profound.

It opens you to the possibilities of your life as it is. It makes you happy to be who you are, where you are. And it’s a choice. Gratitude is a choice. Either it’s a gift we choose to give ourselves and those around us, or it’s something we choose to withhold. Nothing can make us grateful, except ourselves. It’s up to us.

We could make a case for gratitude. We could list all the things you have to be grateful for, like your eyes — if you are blessed to have eyes that work reasonably well — but the blind often do very well, and are quite happy, without being able to see. Thank you very much. Paraplegics and even quadriplegics often do well, even with their physical limitations.

Yet others are unhappy without these challenges, like I can be.

So, once again, we see that gratitude is a choice. It doesn’t depend on our circumstances. It depends on us.

Grateful? Ungrateful? You choose. Right here, right now. What’s it going to be?

Like everything else, you learn gratitude by practicing. Every day, you practice. Sound familiar?

You find yourself going negative fast? You reach for a little gratitude. Crap hits the fan? You look up, take a breath, and give thanks for the blue sky and the white clouds. You give thanks you’re still standing. You give thanks you can still remember your name.

If someone is really mean and miserable, you give thanks that you’re not always around people like that. And you power on.

You can repeat simple affirmations: “May my heart be filled with gratitude for my life.”

You can take gratitude breaks throughout the day just because you want to: I’m grateful for my kids. I’m grateful for my job. I’m grateful that woman smiled. I give thanks for love. I give thanks for this remarkable planet. I give thanks, even for my struggles, because they give me something to push against. I give thanks for the food I will eat today, for the people I will get to talk with, for the chair I will sit in, and I wish for others all the comforts and satisfactions I have.

And I give thanks for the holiday of Thanksgiving, which celebrates one of the most powerful and transformative gifts I can give to myself and those I love — the gift of gratitude.

Enjoy. Give thanks. And spread the wealth.

— John Luca, MA, DC, specializes in somatic coaching for success and happiness. Click here for more information or contact him at 805.680.5572 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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