Tag Archives: gratitude letters

Jump-Start Your Heart

Neighborly Love, Part I

neighbor journal quote with pic

Point to Ponder:
Who is closest to you that you need to start loving more?

iGnite Neissa

Neissa Brown Springmann

In the recent journal, Let Your Family and Friends Love You Through It, I wrote about the importance of letting your family and friends love you through difficult times. For sure it was through the love and support of family and friends that I was able to get through my slump, however I also did something that was 100% selfish, as I knew it would jump start my heart and contribute to feeling more purposeful, joyful and back on my game.

As I was the midst of feeling sorry for myself and missing family and friends, Valentine’s Day was also approaching so I decided to write decorative love and gratitude letters to these special people. This was on Wednesday morning, at which I got up early so I could start my note writing. Prior to writing, I prayed and asked God to bless my time and wow… did He ever! Both of my kids slept until 9:30 a.m., giving me plenty of uninterrupted time to write and express my love.The result was that I felt like me again. I was energetic, joyful and filled with love!

Then, after writing and decorating the notes and getting in the Valentine spirit, it dawned on me that while missing everyone in Texas, I DO have friends in San Diego. In fact, I have eight friends that I can love on–in my love language– the way I am wired to love. What I determined was that the blues that I experienced were in large part caused by not loving on people. And so, the kids and I went on a tulip and Dollar Store shopping spree, where we loaded up on tulips and Valentine’s decorations. Over the course of Friday and Saturday, my partners in crime and I delivered tulips to their preschool teachers and my new friends, as well as Valentine’s treats to the kids’ friends. To top it off, we decorated the front doors of our friends’ homes too. We went a little crazy and drove all around San Diego, but man did it feel good to be able to express my love and gratitude. Not only did it boost my spirit, but it also wore the kids out! (YAY! A quiet moment!!) Here are some snapshots:

The finale to our day of spreading love was a stop at Russell, my husband’s office. He and the USD men’s basketball staff were out of town, so it made for an ideal decorating opportunity. As I’ve mentioned in previous journals, he is the recipient of my leftovers. I am not proud to admit that doing extra special things for him is most often not my priority. Shamefully, because we are married and I know he’s always going to be there, without a doubt I take him for granted and I do not invest in him the way that I do our children, my friendships, and even iGnite. So, as an effort to express my love to him and make him feel a priority, special and loved the same way I was hoping my friends would feel loved, the kids and I decorated his office. As you can see below, the end result would not have been featured in Martha Stuart. None-the-less, it was made with loving hands and a grateful spirit–by of which doing, filled me up!

During the month of March, the weekly journal focus is on neighborly love: doing kind things for your neighbors, getting to know your neighbors, and loving your neighbors despite your physical, political, financial, spiritual, and life differences. As it relates to this week, we are going to warm up by loving those who are closest to you, without the expectation of getting anything in return (like the reaction you are hoping for–that’s a hard one!). Whether this be your time, a note, a hug, a kiss, a verbal “thank you, I love you”, a listening ear or a helping hand, those all qualify as expressing neighborly love.

As you consider what you will do and to whom you will extend your neighborly love to, I encourage you to start inside your home and within your family. When I think about loving my neighbor, too often I think about my literal and physical neighbors, but in reality, our neighbors are also our spouses, our family members, the stranger we stand next to at the grocery store and the person living next door or down the street. They are even the people we don’t see eye to eye with and would rather snub or avoid, than say a kind “hello” to. As I have experienced and you may too, the act of expressing and giving love transforms the givers heart as much as it impacts the receivers. Maybe that’s why with hope, faith and love, the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13

Action Item:
Everyday this week, say or do something to express your love to someone who is close to you.

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Who are You Grateful for?

"We must find time to stop and thank the people who make a difference in our lives."  -John F. Kennedy

“We must find time to stop and thank the people who make a difference in our lives.”
-John F. Kennedy

Point to Ponder:
Who are you grateful for?

by Neissa Brown Springmann

by Neissa Brown Springmann

Who are you grateful for? If you are like me, I would guess that this is a fairly simple question to answer and that you could create a long list of people, however, it’s likely that these people may not hear or see the words “I am grateful for you” as much as they’d like to and as often as you feel grateful for them.

It was at this exact same time last year that we launched our “I am grateful for you”, week-long letter writing campaign, and it was nothing short of beautiful! As a result of you, our members, writing gratitude letters during classes, we mailed over three hundred notes by the Thanksgiving holiday. That was approximately 2.5 gratitude notes per person, which translates to over 600 uplifted and happy hearts — with both the sender and receiver experiencing the proven benefits of gratitude. Therefore, we are absolutely committed to making this a pre-Thanksgiving tradition! My personal goal is to crush last year’s number and aim for at least three hand-written notes per person.

iGnite is emotionally invested in your well-being and we believe that the act of expressing gratitude verbally or in a handwritten note has the power to repair relationships and transform lives. And because having healthy relationships is paramount to living a low-stress and fulfilling life, we have ordered one thousand cards and we’d love to have ZERO left over when you’re done with them! The only action required is for you to attend classes throughout this week, have at least three people in mind that you are grateful for, then fill out the notes & envelopes during designated class time. The postage and trip to the post office is on us!

Finally, there is one more thing that I encourage you to pay close attention to during and after writing your gratitude notes, and that’s how you feel. Because you will have just finished exercising and/or practicing yoga, your endorphins will be flowing and you will already be feeling great, but all gratitude research proves that the result of expressing gratitude is an increase in life-satisfaction and well-being. In fact, one fascinating and very relative study by Steve Toepfer, associate professor in Human Development and Family Studies at Kent State University, found that “when a study participant wrote up to three gratitude notes about something that was important to them (not a generic “thank you” for you a gift, etc) the more they improved significantly on happiness and life satisfaction. The new and potentially important finding is that depressive symptoms decreased. Even more fascinating is that by writing these letters – 15 to 20 minutes each, once a week for three weeks to different people – well-being increased significantly.”

Gratitude. We can question its power and significance, but it’s all backed up by research. The more we express it, live in it and share it, the happier, more fulfilled and healthier we are. I don’t know about you, but I think it’s the cheapest and most effective fix on the market. Unlike everything else, there are no crazy side-effects — with the exception of extreme joy — and we can access it at our disposal. Now that’s what I call some serious good news!

Action Item:
Think about 3 people who you are grateful for and write them a personal “I am grateful for you” note this week!

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