Tag Archives: Banff Canada

Why Gratitude is the Best (and Only) Option

nov13_2016

Point to Ponder:
Who or what are you grateful for?

iGnite Neissa

by Neissa Brown Springmann

This summer, during our Banff, Canada iGnite Escape, each evening we found ourselves relaxing in the outdoor hot tub that overlooked the mountains while playing a get-to-know-you card game. One card with a random question would be chosen and each of us would have an opportunity to answer it. The questions were innocent, fun, thought-provoking and a great way to learn more about one another. A few examples of the questions were: “if you got a tattoo, what would you get and why?; if you could choose to be a different ethnicity, what would it be and why; and when feeling down or depressed, what do you do to boost your spirit? My answers were I’d get a cross tattoo, I’d be Brazilian, and when I feel down, I write gratitude notes.

Keeping a gratitude journal or writing gratitude notes are two of the greatest antidotes to the blues. Personally, they pull me outside of myself and allow me to shift my focus to a person or persons who I am thankful for as well as for the blessings in my life. And, while life stressors are intense and heavy, what we focus on is what shows up, so to me, focusing on who and what we are thankful for is the only viable option. Or, if you need more proof to the power of gratitude, check out the scientifically proven benefits of gratitude from a 2015 article from Psychology Today.

  1. Gratitude opens the door to more relationships. Not only does saying “thank you” constitute good manners, but showing appreciation can help you win new friends, according to a 2014 study published in Emotion. The study found that thanking a new acquaintance makes them more likely to seek an ongoing relationship. So whether you thank a stranger for holding the door or send a thank-you note to that colleague who helped you with a project, acknowledging other people’s contributions can lead to new opportunities.
  2. Gratitude improves physical health. Grateful people experience fewer aches and pains and report feeling healthier than other people, according to a 2012 study published in Personality and Individual Differences. Not surprisingly, grateful people are also more likely to take care of their health. They exercise more often and are more likely to attend regular check-ups, which is likely to contribute to further longevity.
  3. Gratitude improves psychological health. Gratitude reduces a multitude of toxic emotions, from envy and resentment to frustration and regret. Robert Emmons, a leading gratitude researcher, has conducted multiple studies on the link between gratitude and well-being. His research confirms that gratitude effectively increases happiness and reduces depression.
  4. Gratitude enhances empathy and reduces aggression. Grateful people are more likely to behave in a prosocial manner, even when others behave less kindly, according to a 2012 study by the University of Kentucky. Study participants who ranked higher on gratitude scales were less likely to retaliate against others, even when given negative feedback. They experienced more sensitivity and empathy toward other people and a decreased desire to seek revenge.
  5. Grateful people sleep better. Writing in a gratitude journal improves sleep, according to a 2011 study published in Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being. Spend just 15 minutes jotting down a few grateful sentiments before bed, and you may sleep better and longer.
  6. Gratitude improves self-esteem. A 2014 study published in the Journal of Applied Sport Psychology found that gratitude increased athletes’ self-esteem, an essential component to optimal performance. Other studies have shown that gratitude reduces social comparisons. Rather than becoming resentful toward people who have more money or better jobs—a major factor in reduced self-esteem—grateful people are able to appreciate other people’s accomplishments.
  7. Gratitude increases mental strength. For years, research has shown gratitude not only reduces stress, but it may also play a major role in overcoming trauma. A 2006 study published in Behavior Research and Therapy found that Vietnam War veterans with higher levels of gratitude experienced lower rates of post-traumatic stress disorder. A 2003 study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that gratitude was a major contributor to resilience following the terrorist attacks on September 11. Recognizing all that you have to be thankful for —even during the worst times—fosters resilience.

iGnite believes in gratitude- living in and with it as well as expressing it. As a result, over the past four years and during the week before Thanksgiving, in all of our classes we have provided gratitude note cards for our members to write to anyone they want. As a result of our feel-good gratitude initiative, iGnite has mailed over 1200 gratitude notes that are delivered during the week of Thanksgiving, and after this week, we hope to make that number at least 1500.

Throughout this week, you will be given the opportunity to write a gratitude note or notes to anyone you’d like. All you need to do is have their addresses and we will make sure they have postage and are mailed by next Monday and received the week of Thanksgiving. If you can’t make it to class, I invite you to join our important and impactful gratitude initiative. Not only will your effort and words lift you up, but they will for sure lift up the receiver, and therefore the butterfly effect, the concept that small causes can have large effects, begins.


Action Item:
Use this week, the week before Thanksgiving, to write gratitude notes to those who you are grateful for.


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Celebrate Encouragement

sept25_2016-2

Point to Ponder:
Who in your life can you use some words of encouragement?

iGnite Neissa

by Neissa Brown Springmann

In last week’s journal, Lift Higher, I wrote that in honor of iGnite’s tenth birthday that throughout next month we would celebrate by commemorating the people in our lives that lift us higher, as well as ways that they lift us higher. Thank you to everyone reading this journal because you taking the time to read this is lifting me higher, but in addition, a very recent example took place this summer during our iGnite Escape in Banff, Canada.

As I wrote a few weeks ago, myself and thirteen iGniters participated in a six hour mountaineering adventure called Via Ferrata. It was the perfect blend of fear, exhilaration and exhaustion, but by the end we were on top of the world and so thankful that we pushed ourselves to climb so high and for so long. While one of the more memorable takeaways was how important it is to put ourselves in situations that are mentally, physically and emotionally challenging (and even frightening), in order to encounter life’s most amazing and empowering experiences. However, the memory that made the greatest impact and the one I’d like to celebrate with you this week is the power of encouragement, for had it not been for the constant encouragement from one another as well as our guides, the experience would have been completely different and the end result would not have been so monumental.

Interesting, while on the Via Ferrata each of us found ourselves fearful and/or fatigued at different times, which meant that when one or a few of of us were down, the others were lifting each other up. It was a symphony of highs and lows, which resembled life as well as highlighted the significance of encouragement.

While encouraging and building one another up is an iGnite staple and may feel like a no-brainer, this week I invite you to make it your top priority. Celebrate those who encourage you and take the time to build someone up who is in need of your encouragement. Life ebbs and flows daily and you never know when someone needs to be lifted up or how a few words can make a profound impact on those around you.


Action Item:
Take time to encourage as many people as possible.


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Something for You, and Only You

What’s Love Got to Do With It, Part IV

Feb14_2016_Priority

Point to Ponder:
When was the last time you did something for you, and only you, without guilt, obligation or anyone else in mind?

iGnite Neissa

Neissa Brown Springmann

When was the last time you did something for you, and only you, without guilt, obligation or anyone else in mind? Your answer may vary based on your season of life, your ability to say “no” or “yes” as well as whether or not you are a people-pleaser or easily give into peer pressure.

For women, making a commitment to do something specifically for you and only you, with no one else in mind, is and can be terribly complicated, conflicting and hard. Why? Because we are wired to think, care and always be in service of others, and very often it takes lengthy and agonizing steps just to do what we want to do for us, like get a haircut!

Lets face it, if you are married, have kids, and/or have a pet, it is YOU who is responsible for making sure everyone and everything get taken care of, has food, has rides, and any other arrangements that need to be made prior to you doing for you. Or, if you aren’t married, have no children or pets, very often it’s work or your daunting to-do list that trips you up and keeps you from experiencing maximum enjoyment, adventure, relaxation, education, or whatever it is you are truly wanting. Either way, too often guilt and a lack of worthiness are the culprits which cause what we want to be placed on the back burner.

For me, I’ve become terrible at neglecting my wants. I’ve forgotten about me because it takes extra effort and designated alone time to think about me. And, when I am alone the last thing on my mind is what I want. Instead, when I do get alone-time, my focus is on two things: fulfilling my work and life responsibilities (funny how you can work on both of these 24/7 and neither get any smaller and I am never making myself a responsibility). Instead, almost always my time and decisions are based on the consideration of my family or other people. I’m okay with this because my life isn’t about me only, however I have let the pendulum swing waaay to far to the other side. I’ve now reached the point of neglect, which will soon lead to resentment, lower energy and added stress, depression and poor health (it’s a scientifically proven progression).

Despite Yahoo’s turbulent landscape and massive layoffs, a few years ago I read an interesting article on their very young and ambitious CEO, Marissa Mayer. During the time of the article, not only was she the CEO, but she also had a newborn, so there’s no doubt that her life was extremely exhausting and very high-stress. While reading, what struck me the most was that she said she took a long three-day weekend every other month. When I read this my jaw dropped. My first two thoughts were envy and skepticism with some judgement thrown in. Of course she can take a three day getaway, she’s making millions and she has nannies and homes and personal assistants. But then I thought: how in the world does she have time to take a three day getaway every other month. None-the-less and very wisely, she identified that in order for her to be effective and productive in all areas of her life (at home and at Yahoo), it was essential that she have balance and allow herself to get away from time to time.

Finally, just last night I read an exceptional devotional by Glynnis Whitwer. She compared our overly busy lives to trying to fit one cup of milk in a half cup measuring cup. It’s impossible right? The result is it overflows and makes a giant mess. Well, our lives are no different. If you are like me, you try to fit way too many to-do’s, expectations, accomplishments and needs of others into your cup and the result is an emotional, mental, physical and spiritual mess. Your relationships, health, work, etc. —everything is negatively effected because you have failed to neglect your basic needs, which is to engage and participate in things that YOU and only YOU want to do.

Doing something special for yourself does not have to require money, it simply requires you loving yourself enough to make you a priority, just as you do to everyone and everything else. Your “thing” can be something as simple as a quiet, prayerful and meditative walk, reading a book, hiking, joining a Bible study or book club, taking a photography or art class, exercising more, seeing a movie once a month, have a monthly dinner with friends or significant other, or as it relates to iGnite, treating yourself to Amy’s delicious yoga workshops this Saturday or in April, joining us for our upcoming Mini-iGnite Weekend Escape to Port Aransas or splurge by joining us on our Summer Escape to Banff, Canada. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter WHAT you do for yourself. Instead, what’s most important is that you love yourself enough to identify your wants, bring them to the front burner and start taking action.

Action Item:
Love yourself enough to identify your wants, move them to the front burner and take action.

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