Tag Archives: gratitude

A Holiday to Learn From

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Point to Ponder:
What president can you learn from?

iGnite Neissa

by Neissa Brown Springmann

It’s no secret that I am a quote junkie. Besides a story of hope, perseverance and courage, there’s nothing that gets me more fired up and inspired than a good quote or a book of quotes!

Tomorrow, February 20th is President’s Day, a national holiday. Originally, President’s Day was founded in honor of George Washington’s birthday (his birthday is February 22), however it has since morphed into a day to celebrate all United States presidents. Unfortunately though, as most national holidays have become, President’s Day is overshadowed by commercial sales and the opportunity to enjoy a three day weekend. None of these are wrong, as a sale and three consecutive days off are glorious, however the opportunity to truly observe the day for it’s primary focus has become diluted, overlooked, and even obsolete.

In an effort to bring attention to and honor our nation’s presidents and absorb their wisdom and inspiration, I’ve created a top 25 United States President’s quotes list. My personal favorite president is Abraham Lincoln. In fact, if he were alive I’d volunteer to be his full time protege! His integrity, wisdom, courage and love for family and country is awe-inspiring, so you will see a few extra quotes from him.

Therefore, without further adieu, I hope you enjoy the words of wisdom from our nation’s presidents, all of whom were not perfect (who is, right?!), however their service and wisdom are commendable and worthy of pause, reflection and great gratitude.

“Let your heart feel for the afflictions and distress of everyone, and let your hand give in proportion to your purse.” –George Washington

“Honesty is the first chapter in the book wisdom.” -Thomas Jefferson

“The best way to predict the future is to create it.”  -Abraham Lincoln

“Courage and perseverance have a magical talisman, before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish into air. ” -John Quincy Adams

“What counts is not necessarily the size of the dog in the fight–it’s the size of the fight in the dog.” -Dwight D. Eisenhower

“Great lives never go out, they go on.” -Benjamin Harrison

“I destroy my enemies when I make them my friends.” -Abraham Lincoln

“If wrinkles must be written on our brow, let them not be written on our heart. The spirit should never grow old.” -James Garfield

“Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be.” -Abraham Lincoln

“The harder the conflict the greater the triumph.” –George Washington

“Try and fail but don’t fail to try.” -John Quincy Adams

“We can complain because rose bushes have thorns or rejoice because thorns bushes have roses.” -Abraham Lincoln

“Be patient and calm. No one can catch a fish with anger.” -Herbert Hoover

“It’s amazing what can get accomplished if you don’t care who gets the credit.” -Harry S. Truman

“Better to remain silent and thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.”  –Abraham Lincoln

“Do not pray for easy lives. Pray to be stronger men.” -John F. Kennedy

“Whatever you are, be a good one.” -Abraham Lincoln

“Live simply, love generously, care deeply, speak kindly, leave the rest to God.” -Ronald Reagan

“If you look for the bad in people and expect to find it, you surely will.” -Abraham Lincoln

“If your going to think anything, think big.” -Donald Trump

“The best way not to feel hopeless is to get up and do something. Don’t wait for good things to happen to you. If you go out and make some good things happen, you will fill the world with hope and you will fill you with hope.” -Barack Obama

“Use power to help people. For we are given power not to advance our purposes, not to make a great show in the world, or a name. There is but one just use of power and that is to serve people.” -George W. Bush

“In the end, it’s not the years in the life that count. It’s the life in the years.” -Abraham Lincoln
“If you live long enough, you’ll make mistakes. But if you learn from them you’ll be a better person. It’s how you handle adversity, not how it affects you. The main thing is to never quit, never quit, never quit.” -William J. Clinton

“We are a nation of communities….a brilliant diversity spread like stars, like a thousand points of light in a broad and peaceful sky.” -George H. W. Bush


Action Item:
Learn something from a former president that you can apply to your life.


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Be Love

feb12_2017

Point to Ponder:
Do your thoughts, words and actions produce love for yourself?

iGnite Neissa

by Neissa Brown Springmann

Last week I received a very kind compliment. It was one that I didn’t feel deserving of but none-the-less it was greatly appreciated, especially because I wasn’t having the most confident day or week. And, since being called out by a good friend many years ago and her telling me that I needed to work on receiving compliments because it was incredibly rude when I rejected them, I have changed my tune. You know, the standard compliment rejection goes like this:

Friend to You: “Hi You! Your hair looks amazing!”

You to Friend (response #1): “Oh my gosh–it’s a mess and sooo dirty. I haven’t washed it in days and just threw some dry shampoo in it. It’s so gross, I haven’t showered in three days, I barely even brushed my teeth this morning and you don’t even want to step inside my house….. etc. etc.

You to Friend (response #2): “Thank you! Your hair is amazing too!”

My wise friend explained that compliments are verbal sunshine and they should always be received with a big smile and a “thank you” (no extras needed and no compliment exchange necessary). Maybe it’s a universal female thing or maybe it’s an American female thing–I have no idea, but what I do know is that we are entirely too critical of ourselves, and learning how to graciously accept a compliment is one of the first steps to learning how to love ourselves, be loved, love others and being love. In addition, little ears are always paying attention, so whether you have nieces, sisters, daughters, granddaughters or just other female ears around, we are leading by example and they are always listening and learning.

And so, as Valentine’s Day is upon us and love is swirling all around, I encourage you to practice loving yourself by not only graciously accepting a compliment with a “thank you” and a smile, but by also speaking words of love and kindness to yourself. “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.” Proverbs 23:7

Finally, I also encourage you to print our “I Love Your Because” love notes HERE so you can inform those who you love why you love them, or what you love about them. It’s a sweet and fun card that fits great in a wallet, lunchbox, backpack or taped on a mirror, around the house or in a car. It’s super simple yet very effective for both the giver and receiver. And, don’t forget about yourself. Write a love note to yourself, telling your body, mind and spirit what you love so much about them, and then watch your level of gratitude and appreciation for your body and whole self sore! Here’s to loving yourself, being loved, loving others and being love!


Action Item:
Print our “I Love Your Because” love notes so you can inform those who you love why you love them, or what you love so much about them. Also, write a love note to yourself, telling your body, mind and spirit what you love so much about them.


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How to Have Joy in 30 Days Experiment

Originally published December 2013

dec11_2016

Point to Ponder:
Do you struggle with experiencing regular joy?

Dave Sunde

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.


Action Item:
Be intentional about recording the most uplifting, encouraging, satisfying, or life-giving encounters of each day through the Holidays.


Dave Sunde is the Pastor of Mission Hills Church in Austin. A native Californian, Dave has been involved in professional non-profit and spiritual leadership for over 20 years. Dave’s passion for loving people and eloquent ability to share his love for others and life is refreshing, uplifting and inspiring. Dave has spoken at previous iGnite Retreats.


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3 Ways to Replace Complaining with Gratitude

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“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”  Ephesians 4:29

Joyce Meyer is a no-nonsense, honest and outspoken minister and New York Times best-selling author. At times, her “tell-it-like-it-is” personality can be difficult to swallow, however, her ability to communicate important and tough-love wisdom are what we appreciate most about her. In her book Battlefield of the Mind, she teaches how to deal with thousands of thoughts that we all think every day as well as how to focus the mind in the way God thinks. Comfortingly she shares the trials, tragedies, and ultimate victories from her own marriage, family, and ministry that led her to wondrous, life-transforming truth and freedom from negative thoughts. Here are her tips:

  1. Think Before You Speak – Every word you speak has impact and according to Proverbs 18:21, “our words have the power of life or death in them.” It’s easy to complain but when we complain, we open the door to more negativity rather than gratitude. Because we get what we put out, when we complain, we get complaints and negativity back, and when we speak kindly and with gratitude and thanks, we get love, gratitude and thanks back. Complaining may feel good, but it doesn’t solve anything.
  2. Look for Treasure in Every Trial – Complaining comes from an ungrateful and prideful attitude of the heart. It causes us to feel that we shouldn’t be inconvenienced or have bad things happen to us. Let’s face it, we’re used to instant gratification, getting what we want and we don’t want to experience discomfort or for anything to be hard. This causes us to have a selfish and immature perspective of difficult situations and say things we shouldn’t. I’ve learned there is a better approach, which is to look for the treasure in every trial, which in the midst of trial is where we have the opportunity to press into God, grow and change for the better.
  3. No Pain, No Gain – Gaining spiritual, emotional and mental maturity hurts, because it always proceeds a trial. Make it your goal to resist the temptation to complain and instead be grateful and give thanks.

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You can find Joyce Meyer’s website here. These tips were originally published in Life Beautiful Magazine.

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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Letting Go

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Point to Ponder:
What changes in your life do you need to make and what do you need to let go of?

iGnite Neissa

by Neissa Brown Springmann

A few weeks ago I took Malaine, our three year old daughter, to get a much needed hair cut. Her hair had grown to the middle of her back and from her oatmeal breakfast to her ongoing play date with playdough, her hair became a catch-all for everything (yuck!). Like many three year old girls, her sweet, funny and very loving nature can be overtaken by an extremely feisty, salty and disagreeable teenager. So, as I stood close by (mostly to make sure she obeyed the stylist), I witnessed a literal transformation in my little toot. While several inches were cut and her hair was very cute, most interesting was the change in her demeanor, posture and attitude. Morphing right in front of my eyes was an agreeable three year old with a big smile and an added skip in her step. While she couldn’t articulate what had occurred, I recognized what Mother Nature so beautifully models for us from season to season, which is how cleansing and essential change and letting things go is.

Like leaves on a tree, not only during the fall season do they drop to the ground and then bloom also from spring to summer and summer to fall, they are constantly changing form and color. And, if Mother Nature doesn’t stay the same, it leads me to believe that we too are created to regularly evolve and let go of the things that we cannot control, are weighing us down and therefore stunting our growth and ability to live in gratitude.

Next, and to go another mind-blowing step further, according to National Wildlife Federation Naturalist David Mizejewski, “Fallen leaves offer a double benefit. Leaves form a natural mulch that helps suppress weeds and fertilizes the soil as it breaks down.” The way I see it is that is if it weren’t for the change in season and the trees letting go of its leaves, the weeds would overtake the ground, therefore stripping it of it’s potential growth, beauty and the perfect cycle would end.

With Mother Nature being our greatest teacher and so eloquently demonstrating the absolute need for change and letting go, my question to you is what changes in your life do you need to make and what do you need to let go of?  Furthermore, what changes can you make and what can you let go of that will allow you to experience greater satisfaction and more gratitude?

For change, it doesn’t have to be anything dramatic, as a little change goes a long way. Like Malaine, maybe it’s a hair cut, a color or new style, rearranging your living room or painting your walls a new color. Or, maybe it’s something more bold that requires a giant leap of faith and extraordinary courage, like changing jobs, careers or moving.

As for letting go, I believe it is the key that unlocks our greatest potential, beauty and life. Just imagine how liberated we would be if only we let go of “our plan,” the extremely high expectations we have placed on ourselves or feel that others have placed on us; what if we were able to let go of the “should have’s” from our past that paralyze us, the self-judgement that keeps us from focusing on our immensely blessed life or let go of judging others all together. What if we let go of the need to please, the desire be someone we aren’t or the need to be approved of. What if we let go of the ridiculous assumptions that take up prime real estate in our mind and keep us spinning. Finally, what if we let go of worrying, let go of relationships that no longer serve our souls and let go of the need to control what is not ours to control. Instead, what if we allowed God to do for us what nature allows Him to do and He so perfectly does for nature? It’s the ability to recognize that we don’t have all of the answers and we can’t fix everything. It’s the simple act of gratitude–saying “thank you,” not blocking the blessing and letting go and letting God do what only He can do in your life.


Action Item:
Create a list of things that you need to let go of.


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12-Day Reboot: Amy’s Day 4

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Amy Casual headshot

by Amy Chibib

Woohoo – It’s Friday! This is my favorite day of the week. I think that is because I feel a big sense of accomplishment. Also knowing that the weekend is ahead that usually brings a more relaxed routine, freedom and fun! Can you hear some of my core values in there? I hope each of you have had an insightful week focusing a little more on care for yourself. Paying attention to how your body feels, what your Spirit is gently calling to you, and what is the mindset or thinking that is filling your days? These are all excellent clues to guide you in making the most of the process.
I must admit I am NOT following the cleanse completely. I gave myself permission to take the parts of the reboot that I knew I could handle. Which is taking a “vacation” from the white processed carbs, corn, dairy, soy, artificial sweeteners, and most sugars, alcohol, and the social media turn off. The best part, I have been adding in some of the rich nourishing practices this week and thoroughly enjoying it! I hope that each of you have tuned in to what you need – I believe we are all intuitively wise beyond measure and by plugging into your guidance system, many issues will melt away – even in the fog of caffeine deprivation – haha! I enjoy this Re-boot because it is such a great reminder that these are habits I can carry forward for healthier daily living. Here is quick synopsis of my routine this week:
img_2252-1Start my mornings with a gentle harp ringing from my alarm – Yes, I still need the cue to open my sleepy eyes at 6:30am. Yet I feel refreshed and before I move – I always give a quick thank you for this day and grateful for what is to come. I am always eager to make my French press coffee – it is a process in itself and a ritual I am choosing to keep – for now. Heating the water in a kettle – which I use the warm water to first mix my lemon/ACV water. It actually gives me the boost I need as I go get changed for the morning. Nice surprise! I may be able to give up the coffee after all – we’ll see 😉
img_22438:00am – Once drop offs are complete and before I hit the trail for my run – I choose the quick breakfast of oatmeal in almond milk that has soaked overnight. It is delicious and perfect with a touch of cinnamon and walnuts. I get my 4 mile run in and on these mornings feel mentally clear and ready to start the day (a testament to the cardiovascular workout)!

By 10:30 – I make a small smoothie – Blueberries, Kale, Almond milk, ice. This fills me until later lunch.
img_2253-11:30: I grab the deli sliced Rotisserie chicken (it is delicious from Trader Joes) top a field greens salad with a few olives and a hard-boiled egg & drizzle a tsp of olive oil. Very satisfying and filling!
Snack – 4/5:00 – I usually grab a handful of nuts or red peppers in hummus
Dinner – 7:00pm – Grilled chicken has been a favorite this week. With broccoli & peppers and tossed spinach salad.
I keep my meals very simple but love sitting down to eat with my two teenage boys who are ravenous! I don’t have to think too much or spend much time preparing or following recipes. (More clues to my value system 😉 )
Aspects of the Reboot I’ve enjoyed the most:  The awareness, acceptance, slowing down and paying attention. Making notes about how I am feeling and a journal of what I’ve eaten. I recognize trends and appreciate the extra thoughtfulness I am brining to my day and evening.
Something I’ve learned about myself: No judgement, giving myself permission I can choose only the parts that I can handle. There has been freedom in that but also a great sense of compassion and appreciation with no judgement. I don’t have to do this perfectly – there is so much richness in each element. I am taking that into my parenting and work.
Most difficult part:  It was probably the decision to say it’s ok that I don’t follow it perfectly. I have not added the Epsom Salt Bath but would like to give it a try. The other challenge is probably turning off my device long before I crawl into bed. That is a commitment I am working on!
Quality of Sleep: I have the gift of being able to sleep – there has only been a handful of times in my life that I have struggled with sleep and I feel for those that have difficulty falling or staying asleep. However, I do notice increased energy waking up in the morning which speaks to the quality of sleep I am getting with cleaner eating habits!

Energy & Mood:  Monday was not easy and even though I still had a small amount of coffee – I felt exceptionally tired and low energy. But with every day that passed this week, I have gotten better and better!

img_2254Spiritual Practice: My practice is to always read faith filled, meditative quality books before I drift off to sleep. I fall asleep with prayer and wake to a similar prayer full of gratefulness. Any moments in the day – I touch base. I’ve noticed especially in the car in this crazy Austin traffic – I ask for a little patience and take a deep breathe!

Bedside is my library of reads – I usually don’t get too far before I’m out!  I recommend Radical Acceptance – the message is beautiful and after each chapter has a guided meditation.