Tag Archives: Ralph Waldo Emerson

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!

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View Life As An Experiment


Point to Ponder:

Do you ever find yourself paralyzed by the fear of making the ‘wrong’ decisions?


by Neissa Brown Springmann

by Neissa Brown Springmann

Sometimes life just plain eats. my. lunch!  Things sometimes feel like more than I can emotionally, mentally and physically handle and at times take my breath away. I am unfortunately not referring to a “joyful, this is awesome” kind of take my breath away, but a “what the heck! I throw the towel in” kind of way. With that said, the timing of a conversation I had last week with iGnite member Kristy couldn’t have been more perfect, as her wisdom actually took my breath away — in a good way this time — and allowed me to exhale.

After class, Kristy and I were visiting and sharing our life experiences when she said the most encouraging statement that she heard from Liz Gilbert, one of her mentors. Kristy’s paraphrased words were:

“All of life is an experiment. Most all decisions are not permanent and once we begin living without fear and remembering that life is an experiment, we can finally live freely and live the life we want.”

Okay, so I think of myself as someone who loves a good challenge and is completely open to risks, but I, like you, take life very seriously and I really want to get it right! And with that “I’ve gotta get it right” mentality comes a paralysis that inhibits my personal, professional and spiritual development.

The crazy thing is, I know this! This is what I preach and try very hard to live by, but when life feels heavy with parenting, relationship, and professional responsibilities, this way of approaching life is much easier said than done. The truth is that I really want all of my ‘experiments’ to have the positive results and outcomes that I want. But, as life has taught me, there are no guarantees, and where there is risk there is always some level of reward, which typically never turns out to be what we planned. Interestingly, the outcome is almost always better and is essential to propel us to the next level.

Kristy later told me:

“Given that life is an experiment, this isn’t to say that we should live with no forethought and be guided by sheer impetuousness, but we can be paralyzed by the fear of getting life wrong and miss out on the opportunities that would make our hearts sing with satisfaction.”

On that important note, this week’s self-improvement invitation is to relax, breathe and avoid the pressure and desire to be perfect or get life exactly right. Welcome the unknown and resist the urge to have guaranteed results or outcomes. This will grow your faith and confidence. Shift your mindset to seeing life and your decisions as an experiment, which will stretch you. This will sharpen your saw and enable you to live a life without fear and full of the satisfaction of trying. You are worthy of being and living your best, just at Bishop T.D. Jake’s reveals in this week’s video:

Action Item:

Relax, breathe and avoid the pressure and desire to be perfect or get life exactly right.  Welcome the unknown and resist the urge to have guaranteed results or outcomes.


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The Snake Surprise

Snake Picture

The invariable mark of wisdom is to see the miraculous in the common.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Point To Ponder:
Do you get so involved with the details of life that you lose sight of the big and important picture?

Action Item:
Pursue your goals, dreams and life with laser sharp focus while always appreciating the common miracles and blessings that continually surround you.

by Neissa Springmann

by Neissa Springmann

This summer, while in Asheville for our Monarch Escape, one of the many things I enjoyed was taking pictures of the beautiful surroundings. Photography is a hobby of mine and while I certainly could benefit from professional coaching, I delight in taking pictures and especially love the thrill of reminiscing through my photos.

Not long ago while looking through my Asheville album, I was completely taken aback by something that I not only failed to see while taking the picture, but also didn’t notice the many times I previewed the photo before. In the picture above, I was desperately trying to focus on a stunning turquoise dragonfly. At the time, I thought my camera was experiencing difficulty because of the dragonfly’s translucent and delicate body, but after review, that could not have been further from the truth. The reason my camera was unable to focus on the dragonfly was because it was focused on the snake, slithering behind it, that I never even saw!!

After the initial shock and sheer fascination of the snake in the picture, my next and immediate thought was how this was the perfect parallel to what we, especially me, can do with life.  Very often, I get tunnel vision and become hyper-focused on accomplishing one thing that I miss out on all of the other possibilities. A common saying for this is, “can’t see the forest for the trees“, meaning I get so involved with the details of a situation that I lose sight of the larger issue. Or, in my case, you could call it stubborn, for when I set my mind on something, my laser sharp focus can often be a curse and not a blessing.

In the case of the Asheville snake, I am actually very thankful that I fixated on the dragonfly because the picture was an amazing surprise and had I seen the snake, I definitely would have freaked. However, I also love the wisdom that it provides, which is that concentration and focus are very important, but of equal importance is viewing life with a broader lens and appreciating all of the gifts that surround us.

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