Tag Archives: optimism

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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This Will Put a Smile on Your Face

On this beautiful spring day it really is difficult to not feel optimistic. But, in the event the bight blue sky, glorious shades of green and bluebonnets aren’t doing it for you, check out this a-maz-ing video. And, we dare you not to watch it at least three times and pass it along to other friends. Actually, do watch it several times and pass it on to as many people as possible. This optimistic video is addictive and your cheeks may hurt from smiling so big.  It’s that good, so consider yourself warned!

Video not working? Watch it here on YouTube

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Be Like Mike

Wisdom from Children’s Books & Movies IV

Image from Disney Pixar

Image from Disney Pixar

“I am fundamentally an optimist. Whether that comes from nature or nurture, I cannot say. Part of being optimistic is keeping one’s head pointed toward the sun, one’s feet moving forward. There were many dark moments when my faith in humanity was sorely tested, but I would not and could not give myself up to despair. That way lays defeat and death.”
– Nelson Mandela

Point to Ponder:
Which area of optimism do you struggle the most with:
1. Never giving up on your dream?
2. Believing in and building up others?
3. Seeing obstacles as opportunities?

Action Item:
Choose to be optimistic about something you have struggled with recently
or
choose to express your belief in someone who needs it now more than ever before.

by Neissa Brown Springmann

by Neissa Brown Springmann

If you had read the title of this journal twenty years ago, you may have thought I was referring to one of the greatest basketball players of all time, Michael Jordan. I was a giant fan of his and as you probably know, during his record-breaking career there was a Gatorade commercial titled “Be Like Mike.” If I were asked to sing the jingle today, I could easily do it — it was simple, catchy and very popular. But today, twenty years later, the Mike I think we should all strive to be like is Mike Wazowski, the green eyeball from Monsters, Inc. and Monsters University. In the event you haven’t seen either of these great films, the original movie, Monsters Inc. came to the big screen in 2001. Then, just this summer Monsters University was released. While MI was good, MU is off-the-charts excellent and my all time favorite Disney Pixar movie. It is visually stimulating, extremely funny and layered with life lessons which of course are great for kids, but as always, necessary for us, adults, to be reminded of.

To give some insight into MU, it tells the story of how Mike Wazowski (voice of Billy Crystal) and Sully, the turquoise big-toothed monster (voice of John Goodman) went from arch rivals to best friends to becoming the top “scaring team” in Monsters, Inc. But, more than anything, it showcases Mike Wazowski’s optimistic winning attitude and characteristics that we should all strive to possess. While I do not want to spoil the movie — because you really do need to see it — here is what I consider to be “Mike Wasowski’s winning ways:”

1. Never Give Up On Your Dreams
Since grade school, Mike was always the smallest and least scary of all of his monster classmates, but always dreamt of being a “scarer.” Despite his physical limitations and being told he would never be a scarer, Mike did not listen to the naysayers. He never took “no” for an answer and worked harder than everyone else to achieve his dream.

2. Believe In and Build-Up Others
Because Mike was always small, not scary and even considered “nerdy,” he was a bit of a misfit. As a result, he was empathetic and compassionate. He was also a constant source of encouragement, breathed confidence into others and helped everyone around him see and reach their fullest potential.

3. Obstacles are Opportunities
Even though Mike only had one eyeball, he might as well had twenty — because his view on life was large! He was fearless, enthusiastic and even after being kicked out of Monsters University (his dream school) he saw the silver lining and created an opportunity for himself and Sully.

I realize that Mike Wazowski is a one-eyed green fictional character, though I can’t help but think that the writers of this brilliant flick may have felt like misfits at some point in their lives. Just imagine all of the people who must have told them that their idea about a one-eyed green monster and a furry bear-like monster with polka-dots would never make it?

Or, what about Tom Dempsey, the former NFL kicker who in 1970 kicked a record breaking 63-yard field goal? What if he would have listened to all of the naysayers who told him that because he was handicapped (born without toes on his right foot and without a right hand) his dream of playing football, much less holding a 43-year NFL KICKING RECORD, was impossible?!  Of course their dreams were ridiculed and they experienced tremendous obstacles, but I think it’s safe to say that they, like Mike Wazowski, were inherently optimistic and never gave up on themselves or others — a great example for all of us!

 

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We Thought Nothing Of It: A Mother’s Day Tribute

Life doesn’t happen to us. It reveals our true spirit.
(Unknown)

About Neissa

by Neissa Springmann

During one of Amy’s recent yoga classes, she closed with this quote: “Life doesn’t happen to us. It reveals our true spirit.” I was instantly touched by the quote because it reminded me of my mom—the eternal optimist—who inspires me to write this journal.

My childhood in Riesel (a small farming community outside of Waco) was at times challenging. But being raised by an eternal optimist meant times rarely seemed grim. When I was in the first grade my mom divorced my dad. At the time, my father was an alcoholic. Thankfully, the day my mom moved me and my sister out was the same day my dad divinely quit drinking—cold turkey. He has been alcohol free ever since—another journal for another day.

It was too late to reconcile as mounds of damage had already been done. My mother was no longer in love with my father and knew she had to get me and my sister out of our negative environment so she moved us into an apartment in a nearby town. My sister and I were able to stay in the same school so life barely changed. If anything, life got better!! We thought nothing of it.

Everything seemed normal with the exception of our father not living with us. Within a year, my mom began dating and my dad became reacquainted with a college sweetheart. Dad married my stepmother, Brenda, and they’ve been married ever since. We became a very civil divorced family who attended the same church and even sat in the same pew together. Can you can imagine how strange this might have looked?!? We thought nothing of it.

It wasn’t too long before we moved back to Riesel. Our new home was old and with no central air or heat. The three of us shared one bedroom and changed our habits to suit the season. In the winter, Mom would get up extra early (4:30 a.m.) to light space heaters for us. And when the water heater ran out of butane, she’d boil huge pots of water on the stove for our baths. We thought nothing of it.

During the school year Mom always prepared and delivered our breakfast to us on the couch. There the three of us would eat, put on our makeup together and talk about EVERYTHING! Mom would iron our clothes for the day and see to it that our lunches were made. By 7:30 a.m., we all looked like a million bucks and headed out the door. We thought nothing of it.

I could go on and on with more stories about the eternal optimist, but what I love and appreciate the most about my mom is her spirit. She protected and nurtured us. Only later in life did my sister and I learn the truth about the hardships she endured.

The apartment she had moved us to was government subsidized housing. We thought nothing of it because there was no more fighting, and we found fun in climbing the stairs and meeting the new neighbors.

The clothes she gave us were mostly hand-me-downs or painstakingly handmade. We thought nothing of it because we loved going to Wal-mart to look for patterns and material so we could have a new Easter, Christmas, or banquet dresses. Mom even made my sister’s Jr. Prom dress which was ALL RED SEQUINS!!!

The times we ran out of butane were because she sometimes couldn’t pay the bill. We thought nothing of it because she boiled water on the stove for us. And the school cafeteria food was awful, but we thought nothing of it because Mom always made our lunches to spare us.

We were financially poor. But thanks to Mom’s faith and eternal optimistic spirit, we were spiritually rich. Throughout the many struggles she endured, we never saw her cry or heard her complain. She reinforced the importance of faith, family, health and humor. She stayed focused on making the best of every situation and after every game, event or activity we participated in, even if we lost by fifty points, she was always the first to greet us with her BIG smile and optimistic attitude. She always told us how great we did and never what we should or could have done to win.

Financially, life is better for us all now, but we wouldn’t trade our poor upbringing for any amount of money in the world. We are grateful and very often reminisce and laugh.

Difficult and challenging times are always inevitable in life. What’s critical and is the difference maker is our optimistic attitudes, as our spirit will most likely determine the outcome of our situations. Mom has proven this to me time and time again. But don’t just take my word for it; a 2008 Duke University study showed that cardiac patients who were pessimistic about their recovery we’re twice as likely to die early as those who were optimistic.

As you go about your week and even life, I encourage you to confront all situations with an optimistic spirit. The truth is that life is going to happen with some good and some bad mixed together. The question is: will you have an unshakable faith and spirit that radiates so brightly that you’ll flourish even through the most challenging situations? I’m optimistic you will!

Point To Ponder:
How do you typically react to situations that don’t go your way?

Action Item:
Confront all situations with an optimistic spirit. Have an unshakable faith and spirit that radiates so brightly that you’ll flourish even when the outlook appears grim.

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Dodging Chicken Little

You Have So Much to be Thankful For

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into clarity, problems into gifts, failures into success, the unexpected into perfect timing and mistakes into important events. Gratitude makes sense of our past…brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.
– Melodie Beattie

I find communication to be a fascinating and powerful tool. There’s no doubt that what we put into our minds is also what we give to the world, which affects every facet of our life. From television, movies, and magazines, to music, books and the conversations we engage in, they all create positive or negative programing, energy and outcomes. One example is the news. I enjoy being up to date on local, national and world news. I feel it’s my civic duty to be educated; however, when I listen or watch too much of it I find myself feeling and sounding more like Chicken Little than the optimistic and grateful person I strive to be. As a result, I put myself on a daily news budget and subscribe to as many encouraging communication outlets as possible.

As we all know and experience, there is no perfect life, as people and the world are not designed this way. However, our ability to wake up every morning, regardless of our current circumstances, and give thanks for what we have rather than focusing on what we want and don’t have, is the key to living a joyful and fulfilling life. Furthermore, there’s no doubt that ‘light attracts light’ and when we focus on light versus darkness, it invites light into our hearts, minds and lives.

As an effort to dodge Chicken Little or expand your current state of gratitude, I urge you to start off your week by answering the Gratitude Assessment questions below, provided by author and motivational speaker Darren Hardy. Then, place your answers in a location that can be seen throughout the day and week. There’s no doubt that if you take the time to fill out your Gratitude Assessment questions on a regular basis, your mindset and relationships will improve and your life will take a positive turn that will lead to better days, weeks, months, and years!

Gratitude Assessment

Three amazing people in my life are:

Three great things about my physical body are:

Three great things about my home and where I live are:

Three great things about where I work and what I do for a living are:

Three great gifts of unique talent and skill I have been given are:

Three great gifts of knowledge and experience I have been given are:

Three ways I have experienced “luck” in my life are:

Three ways in which my life is wealthy, abundant and prosperous are:

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Point To Ponder:
Which do you fixate more on and therefore allow your life to be most impacted by: thunderstorms or rainbows?

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Action Item:
Fill out the Gratitude Assessment questions and stay focused on all of the good that fills your life.

To your health,

Neissa

About Neissa

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