The benefits of gratitude are plentiful. Yet there’s a tendency to take things for granted, even what matters most. How can gratefulness be cultivated without the painful experience of a wake-up call? Our guest, Kristi Nelson, author of the new book Wake Up Grateful, shares her wisdom on how to develop the mindset and practices to be grateful in our day to day lives.
Kristi and I discuss:
- The mission of her organization A Network for Grateful Living
- The distinction between gratitude and gratefulness – and why it matters
- The role gratefulness has played in her life
- Why gratefulness is especially important now
- How being grateful can help relationships
- Why Thanksgiving can be a springboard to gratefulness year-round
- Her new book: Wake Up Grateful: The Transformative Practice of Taking Nothing for Granted
- What one thing you can start to do if you want to be more grateful in your life
Kristi joins us from Massachusetts.
Kristi Nelson is the Executive Director of A Network for Grateful Living (gratefulness.org). She’s also the author of a new book Wake Up Grateful: The Transformative Practice of Taking Nothing for Granted.
Kristi has spent most of her adult life in non-profit leadership, fundraising, and organizational development. In a wide variety of roles, she has helped to lead, fund, and strengthen organizations committed to progressive social and spiritual change.
In 2001, Kristi founded a values-based fundraising consulting and training, and leadership coaching business, and in this capacity worked with organizations such as the Institute for Jewish Spirituality, Buddhist Peace Fellowship, Spirit in Action, Wisdom 2.0, and The Center for Contemplative Mind in Society. During this time, she was also founding Director of the Soul of Money Institute with Lynne Twist, Director of Development at Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health, and Director of Development and Community Relations for the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society.
Kristi received her BA from UMass/Amherst, a graduate certificate in Business and Sociology from Boston College, and her Master’s in Public Administration (MPA) with a concentration in Leadership Studies, from Harvard University.
Kristi is a stage IV cancer survivor who feels blessed to work with her beloved colleagues in sharing the gifts of gratefulness with people around the world. She lives in Western MA with her family, and gives thanks every day to be surrounded by the glories of the natural world and a vibrant, loving community.
On Gratitude versus Gratefulness
“And I’ve done some pretty deep dives into the exploration because we love feeling gratitude. It’s a fantastic feeling and we love inciting gratitude and other people helping other people feel grateful and yet gratitude tends to be conditional it’s fleeting. It’s transactional. Often we wait for somebody to do something for us or for something to happen. As we said from the outset it’s something that is ephemeral and difficult for us to put our hands around. How do I get more gratitude inducing experiences? And it ends up being a little bit like the pursuit of happiness. I think in that way it’s elusive. And it feels out there gratefulness, as I was saying before, is something that we can cultivate as a practice, very similar to mindfulness. And it’s a beautiful way to weave together more moments of gratitude. And to learn how to find those experiences of gratitude and to uplift them and to deepen ourselves into them more often. So it’s not about being grateful for everything, but gratefulness as the ability to be grateful in every moment. And that’s something that we can learn.”
On What’s Essential
“So this has been a really tough year. I think it’s taught us what’s essential and helped us come home to that question of How do we value and really live into what is essential for us? Because we don’t take the next moment for granted. We say: This is the moment that’s mine. This is the day that’s mine. This is the life I’m living. How do I live gratefully into what is most important to me right here right now, and not count on anything else, because that’s the way we live a regret-free life. That’s really the way to live without regrets and not put anything off. And so I think that’s really come home to roost – as what’s essential. And I think the lessons are continuing to unfold.”
On Gratefulness as an Action
“I will say that it’s not just feeling grateful. It’s being grateful. It’s an active verb. It’s like love. You can feel a lot of love. You can feel a lot of gratitude, but until you express it, it doesn’t necessarily transform your relationships. And so the invitation is to live it out loud. Don’t take the people in your life for granted. One of the things I say is that when we take things for granted, they become lifeless. They become literally kind of dead to us. We get into a trance. We sleepwalk. We walk past people who are miracles in our lives, and we don’t appreciate them. And we take a drive that we’ve taken off and in our lives. And we don’t appreciate it because we’re asleep to it. And yet somebody who takes that same drive and goes by these trees and on this road might say, Wow, this is extraordinary! …But I think [with] the people who become invisible to us in some way, what we have to do is to be really awakened – and then actively express all of the appreciation that we feel. And one of the things that I’ve really experimented with is: Is it possible to really be too grateful for the people who we appreciate and whose presence in our lives matters deeply to us.? And I kind of have not found the threshold. I’ll just tell you there’s a huge amount of capacity for us to express appreciation.”
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