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How to Become More Grateful in 5 Minutes or Less

November 21, 2014
How to be more grateful

With your long list of to-do’s this holiday season, taking the time to thank others and stop sweating the small stuff may seem a low priority. But it can help you get into the holiday spirit—and keep you there all year long. Best of all, it doesn’t even require a huge time commitment. Here are six ways to practice gratitude in five minutes or less:

1. First thing in the morning or just before bed, write down the most important thing you are thankful for.

2. When you hear yourself complaining about a particular person or situation, stop and instead of getting sucked into a vortex of negativity, ask: “What can I do to help this person or make the situation better?”

3. When you’re out buying gifts for others, pick up a small token for yourself that represents something you’re grateful for. Perhaps you find a heart charm to symbolize your love for a significant other or an apple-shaped magnet to represent your new healthy lifestyle that you can stick right on the fridge. The grateful-gift doesn’t have to cost more than $10 or $15. In this case, it’s truly the sentiment that counts.

4. Come up with an appreciation mantra and repeat it five to 10 times when you wake up, when you’re stuck in traffic or waiting in line at the department store or just before you go to sleep. Not much of a wordsmith? Try something along the lines of “I am deserving of good health and happiness” or “I am enough.”

5. Turn pre-printed holiday cards into grateful greetings by including a short, handwritten note thanking those in your life for their support. Examples: “Dear Aunt Alex, Thanks for helping me stay focused on my weight goal this year” or “Dear Mom, I’m so happy you were here to help me celebrate my small victories this year.”

6. Forget the table scraps and instead thank your dog (or a neighbor’s) for his unconditional love by taking him for a bonus walk around the neighborhood. (You get some extra steps in, too, so it’s a win-win.) Or, consider giving away your holiday table leftovers or the flowers on your table to people who are in need. Homeless shelters and charities always appreciate the donations, especially at this time of year.

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Jennifer Plotnek Lead Behavior Coach

Jennifer is a lifelong athlete who has spent the last 15 years helping other people minimize the impact of their life stressors through exercise, nutrition, and self-care. She has a degree in Sociology from the University of Colorado and a Master's degree from the Smith College School For Social Work. Jennifer has worked in hospitals, schools, mental health clinics, and private practice. She co-owns a health club in DC and always strives to set a good example for her three daughters.

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