Tag Archives: happiness

Member Spotlight: Nancy Dacy

IMG_4010Roots:
I grew up in Midland, Texas. I came to Austin in 1975 as a Junior in college to attend The University of Texas as a transfer from SMU. I have been here…wow…40 years.

Family Life:
I have been married to David, an Austin native, for 35 years. We met here at UT. We have 3 children: Catherine, 29, Christopher, AKA “Cricker” 28 and Alexis, 24. And as I am sure everyone knows, we have 2 grandchildren: Grayson, 3 1/2, and Madison, 4 months.

Current/Previous Occupation:
I taught Kindergarten a LONG time ago. I have done a little health coaching but primarily I have lived my adult life volunteering in many different capacities. My focus now is the Helping Hand Home for Children.

Biggest lesson learned through iGnite experience:
I have gained so much from iGnite, but I think the biggest lesson is that I/we are capable of doing so much more than we think we are. We just need to take advantage of opportunities and with encouragement, all we need to do is step out of our comfort zone and give things a try. You never know until you try. As I have said, I never dreamed I would be surfing without a rope on my 60th birthday. That was 100% iGnite and Kathleen.

Best advice given and from who:
Not sure where I heard this but it has stuck with me ever since: Everyone takes responsibility for their own happiness. Happiness is a choice that comes from within. Being happy doesn’t mean everything is perfect. It means you’ve decided to look beyond the imperfections. There are choices you can make every day to feel the effects of happiness. Choose to do something meaningful. Choose to take care of your body. Choose to be around the right people. Choose a good attitude. Choose to express gratitude. Choose to forgive. Choose to focus on what you have, not on what you haven’t.

In my free time…
My first choice is to be on the lake. It is truly my happy place. I love to travel – just need to do more of it. I am working on a needlepoint stocking for Madison, my granddaughter. So, more time than usual, is spent in front of a LifeTime movie stitching. Otherwise, I am with Madison and Grayson a lot.

Who is your celebrity look alike?
Well, for some reason, people are ALWAYS telling me I look like someone they know. It is really the oddest thing. But, for many years, everywhere I went (and I am truly not exaggerating), people told me I look like Cindy Brooks who used to anchor the Channel 5 news here in Austin. I had no idea who she was because I didn’t watch that channel. Finally, I did. Of course, I didn’t really see the resemblance. Many people said it was the smile. And…again, I don’t see it, but many people have told me I look like Jane Fonda. All I can picture is Monster In Law.

You May Also Like:

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!

You May Also Like:

How Kathleen is In the Game

Vulnerability Lost is Intimacy GainediGnite - Share your StrugglesPoint to Ponder:
Are you struggling with something that you haven’t shared with others out of shame or fear of being judged?

by Kathleen Parker

by Kathleen Parker

I am truly not afraid of trying anything new, especially if it involves a good dose of adrenaline!! But since childhood my biggest fears have been failure and judgement by others.

In my classes I have often shared my father’s philosophy on happiness: “Happiness is found through your accomplishments.” Growing up with this mantra was quite scary. If I was not winning, getting a promotion at work, or raising perfect kids, I was not going to be happy. I was so proud and would not share any of my misfortunes with others. Even my best friend in high school didn’t know about my crazy family situation I was going through for four years! My four daughters were FAR from perfect and gave us a wild ride for many years. It wasn’t until the last few years that I embraced my NEW mantra: “Vulnerability lost is intimacy gained.”

Being afraid to show vulnerability kept me from having fuller and deeper relationships for years. How great it feels to be transparent and hopefully help others through all of the trials I have lived in my 54 years!

Facing my other fear — the fear of failure — I still have. When it comes to competing in the Austin Fittest Competition each year, I go to win, not just to compete. That sure makes it less fun. iGnite member Martha Lynn Mangum opened my eyes this year to focusing on having fun and enjoying the competition and not thinking about the win. I have to say it was the most fun out of the four years I participated! I took down my guard and got to know my competitors on a deeper level afterwards and the day ended with all of us being friends instead of competitors. The bonus was I still won, but had much more fun!

Action Item:
Consider opening up to a loved one about something you’re struggling with, and notice how your relationship deepens and your burden is lifted.

You May Also Like:

Happiness through Neighboring

iGnite - The purpose of lifePoint to Ponder:
What aspect of your life brings you the most happiness?

by Neissa Brown Springmann

by Neissa Brown Springmann

Currently I am reading a very interesting book called The Art of Neighboring by Jay Pathak and Dave Runyon. It’s an easy read and pretty common sense, but I’m completely hooked and fascinated. Based on the title you’ve probably figured out that the book is about how to be a good neighbor, but more important is the why — why it is critical to our society that we be good neighbors.

In the first chapter, a group of ministers in the Denver, Colorado area met with their city mayor to learn how they could help serve the city. The mayor responded: “The majority of the issues our community is facing would be eliminated or drastically reduced if we could just figure out a way to become a community of great neighbors.” He then added, “Government programs aren’t always the most effective way to address social issues. Relationships are more important than programs because they are organic and ongoing. The idea is that when neighbors are in relationship with one another, the elderly shut-in gets cared for by the person next door, the at-risk kid gets mentored by a dad who lives on the block, and so on.”

Honestly, I haven’t made it past the first chapter because I am continuing to contemplate just that paragraph. Of course the mayor is right. In theory it sounds so simple, but it appears that societally we are way off.

Ironically, while reading The Art of Neighboring, I came upon an interesting article in SUCCESS Magazine by Patty Onderko called Oh, Happy Day. The article states that research has found that happy people are healthier, live longer, give back more to their communities, cultivate stronger family and social ties and even make more money. The article also lists these ten evidence-based ways to be happy (by actionforhappiness.org):

  1. Giving: Do things for others
  2. Relating: Connecting with people
  3. Exercising: Take care of your body
  4. Appreciating: Notice the world around you
  5. Trying Out: Keep learning new things
  6. Direction: Have a goal to look forward to
  7. Resilience: Find ways to bounce back
  8. Emotion: Take a positive approach
  9. Acceptance: Be comfortable with who you are
  10. Meaning: Be part of something bigger

After reading this article I began thinking about the time in my life when food and exercise consumed all of my thoughts. I was constantly calculating fat and calories, thinking about my next meal and never allowed myself the pleasure of a splurge — at least without a five to ten mile run to follow. I was obsessed with the scale and a one to three pound weight increase would sabotage my day. It was also during a time when I was younger, worked in a gym and was surrounded by mirrors. It’s interesting because looking back I can see that the harder I worked out and the more restrictive my diet was, the more my body literally fought back. I was out of balance, my priorities were out of line, my focus was too inward and therefore my body (and I) was not happy. It wasn’t until I had a literal mental and spiritual shift, got outside of myself, and realized that life was much bigger and more meaningful than a number on a scale or the size of my clothes, that my whole body became happy. Ironically, I stopped exercising as much, I didn’t eat “perfectly,” and I rested more, yet my body felt better and performed better — all the while the size of my clothes stayed the same. I’ve since ditched the scale.

You may be wondering, “Neissa, what in the world do neighboring, being happy, and diet and exercise have to do with one another?” The answer is everything. Happiness cannot be achieved from being primarily inward-focused. For sure it’s easier and feels safer to be focused on ourselves, our families and our homogeneous circles, but true happiness comes from living for and in the things that are bigger than ourselves. Could it be possible that there’s a real connection between our society being the most wealthy it’s ever been, while simultaneously unhappiness and neighborly love are on the decline?

For me, there was a time when my idol was my body. Other idols that can prevent us from living outwardly and being neighborly are our children, family, work, social circles, wealth, television, social media — anything that causes us to live inward and be “me-focused.” As the wonderful quote above suggests, the ultimate goal is to be useful, honorable and compassionate, a.k.a. being a good neighbor, which in my opinion produces ultimate happiness!

Action Item:
Do something for a neighbor who you have never met or interacted with before. This could be baking cookies, writing a note, knocking on their door to say hello — anything!

You May Also Like:

What We Should All Learn from Children

Stop Playing, Grow Old

Point to Ponder:
Do you play enough?

Action Item:
Determine the things that make you feel most alive and start playing.

by Neissa Brown Springmann

by Neissa Brown Springmann

There really isn’t a better time than the 4th of July to be reminded of what it means to be free and to live in the land of opportunity! Freedom has always been a critical element in how I choose to live my life. In fact, after working through a core values exercise, I actually thought freedom was one of my five core values. Turns out it’s not, but it’s part of my strategy to getting to several of my core values, which is likely why I felt claustrophobic, in conflict and restless during my pre-iGnite professional life. Looking back, my spirit was trapped and I needed to be set free so I could live in full self expression. Sure enough, iGnite was and is a snapshot of my spirit and how I interpret freedom and happiness.

I think we can all agree that the best example of freedom is children. Even before having children of my own, I worked with children and was always inspired by their effortless ability to play. It was actually when working with them that I recognized the importance of play and the organic spirit-lifting effect it has on people.

I get it — of course we can’t play all of the time, and I do agree that there is a time for work and play, however, we must make time to play. Play looks different for everyone, and research has found that when we play we are healthier, happier and live longer.

A great example is 81 year old Stuart Brown who is a tennis-playing and cross-country skiing psychiatrist who offices in his tree house in Carmel Valley, California (sounds pretty fantastic!). Stuart is a play-advocate and author of a book titled Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination and Invigorates the Soul. He warns, “a life without play is a life of rigidity, lacking in creativity, joy and sustained pleasure.” He also references a woman who lives a “turbocharged” life, taking care of her family and her job as the CEO of a real estate company. Up at 5 a.m., she ran 4 or 5 miles on odd days and swam and lifted weights on even days. She started to dread life. She set out to find a solution and remembered some of her fondest memories as a child involved horses. Now, she rides one day a week and is happier and more productive.

On the heels of the 4th of July, I encourage you think more like a child, be free and play more, which of course means being fearless to try new things, too!  Much like dancing, singing and doing more of what you love, you will thrive and your spirit will have the same effect on the people you interact with as does in the “joy bomb” that takes place in the video below.

 

You Might Also Like: 

The Final Step: Having Gratitude for our Ungratifying Traits

“We tend to forget that happiness doesn’t come as a result of getting something we don’t have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have.”
-Frederick Keonig

Point to Ponder:
What physical attributes of yours do you regularly wish were different?

Action Item:
Learn to appreciate your so called “flaws” for what they really are by making a list of all of things that body part HELPS you do.

Throughout the past three week’s we’ve covered many transformational topics, that when applied to our lives will allow us to live less exhausted and more wholehearted. They are:

  1. Be selective with what you choose to spend your time on, as this eliminates exhaustion and allows for passionate living. Think it terms of ‘less being more’.
  2. Comparison is the thief of joy” – Teddy Roosevelt. Stop comparing your life, your body, your career, your relationship, or who you were yesterday to who you are today. Live your life.
  3. Don’t take things personally (The Four Agreements)
  4. Don’t make assumptions (The Four Agreements)
  5. Be impeccable with your word (The Four Agreements)
  6. Always do your best (The Four Agreements)

As we conclude our ‘Antidote for Exhaustion Challenge,’ the final step is one that in theory is simple, but because of our  tendency to compare, it takes significant intention and practice.

Below is an honest and beautiful example in appreciating the things that we typically don’t appreciate and even take for granted.

 “Hands On!” Gratitude for our Ungratifying Traits

by Kathleen Parker
by Kathleen Parker

A couple months ago I went to lunch with a group of friends that I have known for a very long time. All of our kids grew up together and we gather for birthdays and other celebratory events. One of our interesting topics landed on plastic surgery, which drifted to despite our efforts to keep our faces looking youthful, our hands show our true age. At that moment I looked down at my hands and smiled. I noticed that they were larger than most women my size, and my fingers are long with maybe more “knuckle wrinkles” than most too. I also have a sunspot on my right hand that looks like a huge freckle.

As I was driving home, I continued to look at my hands on the steering wheel. I felt this overwhelming sense of gratitude as I was reminded of all the amazing things my hands have done and continue to do. They held, loved, and raised four babies. They may not be delicate and beautiful, but they are strong! They can grip and hold a ski rope behind any boat (which is when I am my happiest!). They even won the “grip test” at the Austin’s Fittest Competition and they were great to have at the pull-up station, too. They enable me to live my dream job everyday! They are holding my husband’s hands as we take our dance lessons this spring.

Realizing that one of the least aesthetically pleasing parts of my body is actually one of my best assets has made me appreciate my big, long-fingered and sun-spotted hands.

Through our critical eyes we may see some of our greatest blessings as unattractive, too big, too small, or not good enough, but they are actually allowing us to walk, run, hold, clap, see, hear, hug and so much more. We are all wonderfully made, and we are all given different gifts. So, rather than wishing we had less, more or were created differently, let’s focus on being grateful for everything we do have.

RELATED ARTICLES: 

Persist to Achieve

We’re entering our 4th week of January & are pacing ourselves for positive long-term & permanent change. Maybe this is a breeze for you, or maybe you’re struggling. Either way, we’re in this together & we’re walking along-side you. In this week’s video, motivational speaker and life coach Tony Robbins provides valuable insight into how to make our positive changes STICK. As you watch, ponder your “why” & next week we’ll put pen to paper & make this thing HAPPEN!

Video not working? Watch it here on YouTube.

Don’t have 10 minutes to watch?  A few of our favorite points from Tony’s talk:

Statistics show that 90% of people who made a new year’s resolution have already broken it by January 15th!

There’s something inside of us that makes us want to make things better.

Getting things is not going to make you happy…the secret to real happiness is progress. If we can make progress on a regular basis, we feel alive.

You don’t have to work on changing… everything in life is always changing. Change in life is automatic, but progress is not. You have to work at it.

The first step for lasting change is have a vision. A vision for what you really want…what excites you…it has to be a compelling vision, not something that you have to push yourself to do.  You’ve got to have strong enough reasons that you’re going to keep going when the going gets tough.

OTHER VIDEOS YOU MIGHT LIKE: