Tag Archives: experiment

Fourteen Reasons to be Grateful

iGnite -gratitude changes everything

Point to Ponder:
Do you regularly acknowledge what you are grateful for?

by Neissa Brown Springmann

by Neissa Brown Springmann

As you have likely noticed, during the month of November we are celebrating gratitude! Not only are we eager to blast out our gratitude in our social media #ignitegratefulgram contest, but we are fired up to wear our gratitude loud and proud with our NEW ‘Grateful’ fall apparel.

We are not at all suggesting or asking that you post or wear your grateful spirit to be boastful about your “things”. Instead, the motivation behind our Grateful Campaign is to encourage the daily action of giving thanks for our amazing lives and blessings…because when life gets inevitably tough, a grateful spirit can change a bad day into a good day, and a good day into a great day, because gratitude changes everything. I’m hopeful that our Grateful Campaign will inspire and reignite a grateful spirit in everyone.

There is no denying that acknowledging our blessings on a daily basis leads to a physiological reaction that creates a happy and peacful state in the body. To go a step further, based on the findings from a fascinating gratitude experiment conducted by two psychologists, writing down what we are grateful for leads to even greater results. Check this out:

“Two psychologists, Michael McCollough of Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, and Robert Emmons of the University of California at Davis, wrote an article about an experiment they conducted on gratitude and its impact on well-being. The study split several hundred people into three different groups and all of the participants were asked to keep daily diaries. The first group kept a diary of the events that occurred during the day without being told specifically to write about either good or bad things; the second group was told to record their unpleasant experiences; and the last group was instructed to make a daily list of things for which they were grateful. The results of the study indicated that daily gratitude exercises resulted in higher reported levels of 1. alertness, 2. enthusiasm, 3. determination, 4. optimism, and 5. energy. In addition, those in the gratitude group experienced less 6. depression and 7. stress, and 8. were more likely to help others, 9. exercised more regularly, and 10. made greater progress toward achieving personal goals. In addition, Dr. Emmons’ research shows that those who practice gratitude tend to be more 11. creative, 12. bounce back more quickly from adversity, 13. have a stronger immune system, and 14. have stronger social relationships than those who don’t practice gratitude. He further points out that “To say we feel grateful is not to say that everything in our lives is necessarily great. It just means we are aware of our blessings.” – The Change Blog

Something that I am experimenting with in our family is a gratitude jar. The jar sits in the middle of our dining room table and each evening at dinner, we talk about one thing we are grateful for, followed with writing it down on piece of paper and placing it in the jar. Because I have small children who can’t write, I have been writing what they say as as well as including the date. It has become a sweet and focused time which stirs up great conversation (even with a two and a four year old). My personal goal is to revisit the jar of notes during our Thanksgiving meal and to continue writing down what we are grateful for throughout the month of November and the remainder of the year.

Another idea is to print and cut out our Grateful Printables. Then, place your jar, printables and pen in a high-traffic area in your home and anytime you or your family members pass by it, drop a gratitude note in the jar. From a good nights rest, a warm a cup of coffee to the blessing of good health, family and friends, it all counts and taking the time to acknowledging your blessings will make a positive impact in your health, relationships and overall quality of life. And, several months from now or anytime you need a pick-me-up, all you have to do is read what’s in the jar and you are guaranteed a good laugh, happy cry and/or mood booster. Why? Because gratitude changes everything!

Action Item:
Print out our Grateful Printables. Place your jar, printables and pen in a high-traffic area in your home and anytime you or your family members pass by it, drop a gratitude note in the jar. Or, at dinner each evening have each family member write down and discuss what they are grateful for and place in the jar.

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The Quiet Experiment

iGnite - Silence is a SuperpowerPoint to Ponder:

How mindful are you in your everyday errands and activities?  Are you comfortable with silence?

by Neissa Brown Springmann

by Neissa Brown Springmann

I love a good experiment.  For example, I love finding new driving routes, trying new classes, workouts and locations (in iGnite of course), running a different direction around Lady Bird Lake, driving for a week with no music or talk radio, and even testing new “fad diets” just to mix it up and confuse my body, mind and spirit and see the results.  Here me out, I most certainly love order and prefer for things stay the same, though I really enjoy experimenting and stretching myself because there is always something new to be learned.

I may have used the term “fad diet” incorrectly because I’m not a fan of dieting, however I enjoy experimenting with food trends, assuming they are healthy.  I have tried being a vegetarian, vegan and eating all raw.  My goal was to learn how my body would respond and if it was something that was sustainable and worked for me.  What I learned was that none of them work for me, but I did gain great knowledge and tips from them all.

As for running, there was a time when I never ran with headphones around Lady Bird Lake because I loved hearing my breath, the pounding of the trail beneath my feet and most sacred, the sounds of the trail.  Then, one day I decided to listen to music for the extra motivation.  I did like it and the music was encouraging, but the experience was completely different.  I couldn’t hear my breath or the crunching of the trail which is what I had enjoyed for so long. Most importantly, every time I ran I received clarity on a life issue.  It was meditative and mother nature always spoke to me. Furthermore, one time while running with headphones, the headphones died at the half way point and because I was relying on the music to get me through the run, finishing the run was an absolute nightmare.  From that point on I vowed that I’d never wear headphones again because it was clear that a dependence had been established.  The same holds true when running or walking in a different direction on the trail.  Even though it is the same distance and same trail, when I start in the opposite direction or at a different location, my body, mind and spirit can’t go into autopilot and the experience is altogether unique.

As I write this journal I am sitting on my father’s back porch in total silence.  It’s just me, the cool breeze (crazy!!!), the singing birds and the rustling leaves.  I can think clearly, feel my body and hear my spirit.  It’s serene, perfect and so different than most days that come with the noise from children, television, traffic, the radio, and life in general.  And, because just two weeks ago in the journal Music: The Multipurpose Medicine, I recommended turning on some tunes and letting music feed your soul, you may think I am crazy for recommending that this week we turn off the music, the television and controllable noise and do life without it, just to see what happens.  Maybe for you this means turning off your television, radio,or  simply not talking when you don’t need or have to.  It’s simply an experiment to see what all we can hear.

With each passing day I realize that with most things in life there is no right or wrong way.   We are consistently evolving which includes growth, which also means that what works one day may not work the next. This is why we must remain open to change, trying new things, and experimenting, specifically as we did in iGnite many years ago. During one week we experimented with not talking to one another during the workouts. We saved talking until the end, where we shared our interesting realizations.  This of course seemed counter-culture because iGnite is all about being in and with community.  But in the spirit of discovering what we can learn, what we can see and most importantly what we can hear when we are quiet, I am suggesting that we try it again, as the results were exceptional!

Action Item:

In your workouts this week (and in other situations where you’d usually find a way to distract yourself with media or conversation), challenge yourself to be silent and focus instead on being entirely mindful of your surroundings, what you are doing and how your body is feeling. Observe what a difference it makes at the end of your workout! 

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How to Have Joy in 30 Days

How to Have Joy in 30 Days

Dave Sunde, Pastor of Adult Ministries at Riverbend Church in Austin, Texas

by Dave Sunde

I used to imagine that I was my own person; that, somehow, I didn’t care what people thought of me.

Then I graduated from junior high.

And then my idealism was trumped by reality. The reality is that the most influential component of our lives – for better and worse – is the people around us. I’d like to think my skin is thick enough to absorb let down, disappointment and rudeness. But, if I’m honest, they often have a way of shaping my attitude. I’d also like to think I’m responsive enough to be improved by another’s optimism, joy or encouragement. Sometimes, I’m able to rise above and not give in to ugly. Other times, I let myself be lifted by the infectious joy or optimism that feels temporarily foreign to me.

I want to introduce you to an experiment just in time for Christmas.  It’s an experiment with ‘How to Have Joy in 30 Days’. The goal is to be intentional about recording the most uplifting, encouraging, satisfying, or life-giving encounters of each day through the Holidays. Let’s just be honest, the Holidays can bring out the best & worst. With the added cost, travel, hospitality, and seasonal extra-curriculars, we can be so easily robbed of Joy, a spirit of giving, and the celebration of what it sacred during this time of year.  They don’t have to be laugh-out-loud funny moments. It could be something as simple as delayed gratification like putting off a purchase to avoid debt, having a hard conversation that deepens a relationship, anonymous gifts or favors, acts of kindness,  or volunteering.   They might include savored moments with children or a cherished moment with a spouse.

What I find is that my mind doesn’t naturally readily store joyful encounters for very long, so a little note-taking goes a long way. Keep a record on your phone, in a journal, or by your nightstand. Each day, take a few seconds to keep a ‘joy journal.’ As you do, watch how your awareness of joy can grow.

You can even make this a part of your dinner conversations each night with your family  (I’ve even started asking my kids), asking “what was the best part of your day today?”

Gratitude can feel like a discipline, but it also keeps joy within reach.  Tis’ the Season.

— — — — —

Dave SundeDave Sunde is the Pastor of Adult Ministries at Riverbend Church in Austin, Texas and will be a featured speaker at iGnite’s Intentional Renewal Wellness Retreat in February 2014.  A native Californian, Dave has been involved in professional non-profit and spiritual leadership for over 17 years and has been a pastor at Riverbend Church since 2006. Dave’s passion for loving people and eloquent ability to share his love for others and life is refreshing, uplifting and inspiring.  Join us at the Intentional Renewal retreat and hear Dave speak on Intentional Renewal: What It Is, Why We Were Designed for It & Why We Need It.

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