Gratefulness: Taking Nothing for Granted with Kristi Nelson

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Kristi Nelson knows the deep joy that springs from simply being alive. This perspective has grown out of her own struggles with stage IV cancer. It led her to explore the practice of gratefulness. And she’s discovered that living with gratefulness is more than just another task to perform, it’s an orientation to life. She counsels us to avoid getting caught in the hamster wheel of life, forgetting again and again that the present moment is truly all we have, and it’s both precious and fleeting. She suggests that the practice of gratefulness is a direct pathway to the qualities of mind and heart that lend themselves to our well-being as it spills over into an experience of true abundance. She can attest to the fact that grateful living adds to the stamina we need for our journey, and enhances our relationships, and to the larger world to which we belong. (hosted by Justine Willis Toms) 


Kristi Nelson is an ambassador for the nonprofit organization Grateful Living, which is founded by the internationally beloved “Grandfather of Gratitude”, and former guest of New Dimensions, Brother David Steindl-Rast. From 2014 to 2022 Nelson served as its Executive Director. Kristi Nelson has spent more than 30 years in nonprofit leadership, development, and consulting, working at the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health, and the Soul of Money Institute. Nelson is a stage IV cancer survivor. 

Kristi Nelson is the author of: 

  • Wake up Grateful: The Practice of Taking Nothing for Granted. (Storey Publishing 2020) 

To learn more about the work of Kristi Nelson go to 

Topics explored in this dialogue include: 

  • Nelson shares her personal journey from stage IV cancer to grateful living
  • What was it like between the long unknown diagnosis and finding a treatment
  • What are the five guiding principles she discovered for grateful living
  • How Brother David Steindl-Rast became a mentor to Nelson
  • What is the importance of entering a relationship with the impermanence and uncertainty of life
  • How accepting life as everything is a surprise lends itself to living with wonder and awe
  • How our very bodies are a miracle and every moment it is performing millions of functions
  • How our breath is our anchor and our portable altar and instrumental in the practice of presence
  • What was Justine’s experience of being with a dead person in a mortuary
  • How we can reframe our “to-do” list by changing the words “I have to” to “I get to”, moving from obligation to blessing
  • How we can expand our appreciation for all the people who contribute to our lives: mail carriers, road workers, farmers, garbage collectors, and so many more
  • How contentment is a radical proposition that leads to embracing the practice of sufficiency
  • How appreciation is generative
  • How she changed the self-referential “Golden Rule” to the “Grateful Rule”. Do unto others as they would have you do unto them.
  • How sorrow, grief, and loss are intertwined with love and joy
  • How living our lives on automatic pilot does not support our aliveness 

Host: Justine Willis Toms   Interview Date: 1/31/2024   Program Number: 3807

Music Playlist

From Album: Intervention
Artist: Helen Jane Long

Opening Essay: Track 01 Intervention
Music Break 1: Track 02 Free
Music Break 2: Track 04 The Aviators
Music Break 3: Track 11 Renewed