Kristi Nelson is the Executive Director of A Network for Grateful Living (Gratefulness.org) and has dedicated her life to nonprofit leadership, fundraising, and organizational development. She’s passionate about strengthening  organizations committed to progressive social and spiritual change.

“I see gratitude as an inside-job, available to us in great abundance if we make it a moment-to-moment practice so that we don’t take life - and its existing gifts - for granted.” — Kristi Nelson

What is it that makes you feel most alive?

First thoughts: Nature. Love. Light. Poetry. Especially when I get to experience them all at the same time. I am captivated by love for nature and the nature of love, love of light and the light of love, and the essential poetry of it all. And of course it is gratitude for every speck of what inspires aliveness that brings me even more alive. The longer I live, the more I am enlivened by being a student of Life in all its moments and manifestations. Knowing that I can learn from everything deeply experienced, I would like to believe that I come alive in the whole “great fullness” of life.

What initially drew you to the work you are doing now?

I was always wired for gratitude, but when I was diagnosed with stage IV cancer in my early 30’s, my capacity for appreciating life - and everything in it - grew to a whole new level. Gratefulness now offered an enhanced articulation and framework for how I related to life. It was like mindfulness + gratitude + reverence + love, all in one. I began to look for a lifestyle that could embrace all of that, and allow me to practice with my heart and eyes wide open. I found it.

What do people tend to get wrong about gratitude?

We tend to reserve gratitude for the moments when circumstances and people deliver the exact experience we are looking for. This can turn into a kind of hustle for more and more gratitude-inducing moments. Like the pursuit of happiness, it can put gratitude beyond us and turn it into something we need to orchestrate and await. I see gratitude as an inside-job, available to us in great abundance if we make it a moment-to-moment practice so that we don’t take life - and its existing gifts - for granted.

What is your definition of a successful life?

Love as a vibrantly active verb. Success is that the people we love know that we love them. They feel it, hear it, see it. But not just our small, chosen circles. A successful life would mean that a much more diverse and vast swath of humanity gets included among those “people we love” so that less and less of the world need wonder whether they are loved. Loving that way is available to us in every moment. The challenge is to step up to every interaction and opportunity with our most generous hearts on the line.

How do you want to be remembered?  

That I was simply, relentlessly, intensely grateful for the opportunity to live and love every day, and that I sought not to take this privilege - or any of my privileges and blessings - for granted.

Begin your day feeling grounded and inspired.

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This article is part of our series on the theme of Gratitude.

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