7 Tips for a Healthy Winter

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7 Tips for a Healthy Winter

Winter presents challenges in the Northeast, and it also has charm. The pace of life slows in the winter. Do you notice and appreciate the stillness brought on with snow? Nature seems to take a deep sigh from the frenzy of the warmer months.

As an engineering student in college, I learned that cold creates order and contracts while heat expands and excites.  Just compare the crystalline nature of a snowflake or an ice cube to a pot of boiling water – you get the picture.

Align yourself with the forces of nature

So, get in step with the season. Winter is an excellent time to slow down a bit to bring order and balance to your life.  Add some quiet time to your day; even a few minutes or several conscious breaths will have an impact. You may enjoy the influence of quiet so much that you will make it part of your daily routine. (For those meditating regularly, the value of this inner stillness is quite apparent to you.)

Here are additional steps that you can take to enhance your health and enjoyment this winter. These recommendations are time tested; they come to us from ancient Ayurvedic health care.

  • Regular schedules and routines are helpful during any season, however they are particularly valuable during the winter.
  • Favor warm, heavier foods in the blustery cold winter months.
  • Stay hydrated, if you’re feeling thirsty, pay attention and drink. Just a few sips of room temperature water will often be enough.
  • Reduce your intake of dry foods & dry snacks in winter months.
  • Minimize cold drinks especially ice cold ones.
  • Regularly quiet your mind – try meditation, yoga, or tai chi.
  • Keep your head and neck covered while outdoors.

If these sound like common sense suggestions, great.  Your natural instincts are right on.  Now, take action on them and you’ll have a healthier, more joy filled winter.

Greg Schweitzer

Director, Stress Reduction Resources

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How to Be Cool Without Trying [Effortless Meditation™]

I’m often asked by new meditators, “Why isn’t everyone doing this?”  It’s an excellent question and one that still perplexes me, even after 40+ years of daily meditation experience. I am not alone in my wonder.

What is cool?

Mehmet Oz, M.D. made an interesting and insightful comment in a TV discussion.  He was lamenting the state of wellness in our country.  He said that to his amazement many people’s eyes glaze over at the mention of health.

“We need to let people know that it is cool to be healthy,” says Dr. Oz.  “It’s cool to sleep well, and wake up refreshed and happy.  It’s cool to be mentally alert and enthusiastic about your day.  It’s cool to be filled with energy and not drag yourself through the day tired and cranky.  It’s cool to have good relationships with family, friends, and coworkers.”

In order to be really cool, we need to be at the top of our game.  For that, we have to treat ourselves well. We need to be healthy. So how do we do that and still attend to the relentless demands on our time?  It’s my opinion that many give up on their health because it seems so hard to be healthy.

Move, exercise your body regularly. Eat healthy food rich in vital nutrients, and minimize your intake of sugars and processed foods. We are what we eat. We’ve heard these cornerstones of healthy living for decades, however it does not appear that our collective health has improved all that much. Here’s what’s wrong. Arguably, we’ve overlooked the most essential ingredient for being well!

Rest is an Enzyme of Life – often short-changed

We must also rest. Quality sleep is vital to clear the body of stress and fatigue, and refuel us for the demands of the new day.  Rest is an enzyme of life as necessary to us as the air we breathe. To enjoy the dynamic activity of our daily life, we need balance and that comes with rest.

Here’s a self-care supplement to bring it all together. Many have said it’s the best investment they’ve ever made – Effortless Meditation™ instruction.  It will do wonders if you add it to your daily routine.  Many report that they sleep better, their mind is clearer, and their mental and physical health have improved.  These statements are based upon my own personal experience with meditation and from hearing from and observing thousands of others that I’ve taught to meditate over these many years. Our daily meditation practice recharges our batteries for the day ahead. We’re more alert, patient, enthusiastic, and far healthier.

Those who meditate daily spontaneously notice these and countless other benefits. And without trying, they begin to make better lifestyle choices that further improve their health. They eat better, exercise more frequently, stop smoking, and they are more patient and kind. Those who meditate notice that they handle the stress of daily life more effectively. They are more resilient.

It’s no wonder that increasing numbers of physicians and health professionals recommend it to their patients. Two meditations per day is ideal – 15 to 20 minutes at a sitting will maximize your benefits. For some that sounds impossible, so they’re advised to go for 5 or 10 minutes. Any amount is better than nothing. Time spent in meditation is putting money in the bank.

And there’s more good news. Almost every new Effortless Meditation™ client notices positive benefits in just the first four days of the EM course. It’s encouraging. You don’t have to do it for a long time to notice its helping. Most new clients are pleasantly surprised how quickly benefits begin to be experienced. These benefits and many more continue refine and grow over our entire lifetime.

Like everything however, it takes practice to get the most out of your meditation. When I taught with Deepak Chopra, M.D., he frequently said that meditation works like magic. However, he’d then say that it’s not magic, because you have to do it. Do it and the results are magical.

That’s guaranteed. You too can be cool. Just spend some time each day tapping into the magic.


Greg Schweitzer

Effortless Meditation™ teacher

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Fertilizer for Growth: Be Still

When introduced to meditation in 1974, I was skeptical. As an engineer, skepticism came naturally. Yet, the meditation instructor who had just given an introductory lecture was convincing.

Do Less, Accomplish More

Meditation, he said, was one activity that would enhance every aspect of our lives. In the same way that watering the root feeds the entire plant. In contrast, trying to enhance the quality of each leaf, stem, and flower separately is inefficient and not as effective as simply watering the root.

I decided to learn to meditate. My life was in turmoil. What did I have to lose? There was a fee for his meditation course, but I told myself that if it didn’t work, it would not be my first disappointment. It was worth the small financial risk. If half of what this teacher said was true, I’d be happy.

Well, many years later, I’m pleased to report that everything he said was right-on. What he taught me was how to be still. I learned a mental technique, meditation, to quiet my busy stressed out mind. Much to my delight, I found that my mind effortlessly calmed down during meditation. More importantly, there was more peace and joy in my life after meditating.

Meditation is …

An analogy is helpful to explain the role of meditation. (There are many styles of meditation. I’m describing the one that I practice and teach – Effortless Meditation™.) Anyone who has ever seen the ocean knows that the surface always has some degree of turbulence. If a big storm comes up it could be overwhelming – perhaps 50 foot high waves. Such turbulence often brings destruction to anything in its path, and yet deep beneath the ocean’s wild surface the water is quiet, calm. Scuba divers tell us how peaceful and charming the ocean is at its depths even during storms.

Our mind is like that. On the surface of the conscious “chattering” mind, we have many thoughts especially when we’re under stress. Effortless Meditation™ is a mental technique that helps the active conscious mind settle down so that we can experience the stillness and calm at the mind’s core. Our peaceful, calm mind is fertilizer for personal growth. It nourishes us while recharging our batteries with energy for the activity that follows our meditation.

A client once wrote, “Meditation is like a mini vacation, and now I’m vacationing every day.” With each meditation, we draw the influence of meditation into our active life. In the same way that water sticks to our body when we come out of a swimming pool, the energy, calm and well-being experienced in meditation stays with us after our meditation session ends.

The Need of the Times

The need for this experience has never been greater than today. Observe as you walk down the street or into a restaurant, or even while driving, people’s heads looking down at their smart phones. They are multitasking, trying to squeeze more out of every moment. Life is so busy that many have lost the simple ability to sleep soundly through the night. Few would dispute that we live in a world of chronic stress and pressure.

With these concerns, it’s not surprising there’s a growing interest in and acceptance of meditation. The interest has certainly been fueled by the expanding and huge body of scientific research validating a multitude of benefits from meditation practice.

Those who meditate regularly find that the quality of their lives grow in ways never imagined. They are more patient, focused, healthier, and happier. That’s quite a payback for taking a little time each day to be still.

Highly effective people take time to sharpen the saw.
Stephen R. Covey, Ph.D

Greg Schweitzer

Stress Reduction Resources, Director

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Is Your Pitta Raging? – Ayurveda 101

We’re well into the heat of summer, and it’s a good time to take advantage of the wisdom of our ANGER - Woman Yellingancestors.  Ayurveda, the world’s oldest system of natural medicine, gives us insights that help us deal effectively with most anything that ails you.

Summer is Pitta season in Ayurveda.  The elements of Pitta dosha are fire and water.  If you have a strong aversion to hot weather, you probably have a lot of Pitta in your constitution.

Those of you who know that Pitta is dominant in your body type should be especially mindful of the need to balance your fiery nature at this time of year. During this season, pitta (fire) more easily accumulates and causes problems. If Pitta is over-abundant in your life, as it tends to get in Pitta season, it can often lead to anger, irritability, impatience, and sarcastic, cutting remarks.

When in balance, Pitta types usually have sharp intellects and strong digestion. These are two of their greatest assets. They also have a competitive enterprising nature, and they are often articulate speakers.

To balance the fiery influences of this Pitta season, Pitta types will especially benefit from doing the following things that will bring cooling influences to their lives:

  • Avoiding excess sun exposure is helpful.  Wise Pittas types usually look for shade at the beach while some of their friends lie in the sun all afternoon.
  • Regular rest and sleep is very important for Pittas. It complements their hard driving nature.
  • Meditation is a key lifestyle fundamental that helps them stay calm, balanced and rested. Pittas have a special need to “cool their brain” in the summer.
  • Cooling foods are important at this time of year, as opposed to hot spicy foods.  Fresh fruits and raw vegetables are very good in moderation (think salads).  They are ample at this time of year and they keep us cool.  Most Pittas love melons for this reason.
  • Exercise is good for Pitta types in moderation. Pittas need to be especially mindful not to let their aggressive tendencies take over in hot weather. Excessive overheating exercise aggravates Pitta. Swimming is a good option.
  • Spend time in the beauty of nature, it’s calming; laugh and make time for family and friends. Be cool.

For more information about the health enhancing wisdom and benefits of Ayurveda, search for an Ayurvedic physician or practitioner. They will help you determine your body type, and teach you how to restore balance in your life. A good introductory book on the subject is Deepak Chopra, M.D.’s classic, Perfect Health: The Complete Mind Body Guide.

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BE Your Best Self

Business-ClientsWe’re all born geniuses, life degeniuses us. – Buckminster Fuller

For most of her life, Mary said she felt like a “human doing.” She was constantly striving for greater satisfaction by doing more. The pace of her life was rapid fire and relentless. Now, recognizing that stress was taking its toll, she was looking for relief.

Most everyone wants more in life – more happiness, satisfaction, love, and success. But is it possible to have success without being overwhelmed? The answer is YES, however to avoid burnout, we must be at our best.

How to become your best self

I recall a provocative statement made by a teacher in 1974. He said that there’s something missing in most people’s lives. The good news was that the missing element is inside us. Explore and nurture it, and everything will get better, he promised.

He was right on. My life significantly improved when I acted on his proclamation. He said that we didn’t have to change our behaviors or beliefs, we just needed to develop our potential for success. The approach that he promoted was meditation.

Although I knew little about meditation, it made sense. If our nervous system is depleted by overwhelm and stress, our ability to perform will be compromised. Also, everything that we achieve will be colored by the tension that we’re experiencing. This should not be the price that we pay for success.

While the stress response hijacks the brain, the teacher explained that the deep rest experienced during meditation heals it. The practice of Effortless Meditation allows our mind to settle down, becoming quieter and quieter, and bringing a level of healing rest to the central nervous system and its control tower – the brain.

People routinely report after beginning an Effortless Meditation practice that they are happier, sleeping better, and thinking more clearly. They’re less anxious and all aspects of their health improve – mental, physical, and emotional. One man said that since starting a daily meditation practice, he was falling in love with life again. A woman was delighted because her brain fog was lifting and her memory improving after just a two weeks.

A key

A key to being our best self is to bring balance into our lives. Adding two short periods of Effortless Meditation™ each day is a formula to do just that. The practice restores energy, vitality, and well-being.

This is an inside job. Start by healing your nervous system and brain. It can be an effortless and enjoyable process. A daily meditation practice is one simple step that will set in motion a cascade of positive changes. In short order, subtle and powerful benefits will be showing up in your life.

Greg Schweitzer


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Feeling weary? Come home with Effortless Meditation™

workplace-programsA first year meditation client told me that she had stopped meditating for a few weeks while traveling on vacation. Her comment did not surprise me, however what was surprising to me was my response; I asked her why she started again?

“I could never give this up,” she replied. Over my years of teaching, I’ve heard many similar comments. What keeps her returning to the practice is the same allure that gets all of us.

Sitting down for Effortless Meditation is like coming back home at the end of the work day. Our meditation delivers us to a welcome oasis of peace and calm; and the great news is that it exists inside us. There’s nothing to strive for.

Stress: the black plague

Throughout the day, we’re all bombarded with so much information and demands. What’s often overlooked or is not understood, is that there’s a piece of us that goes with every encounter.
Workplace stress has been called the black plague of the 21st century by one of the largest HR firm’s in Europe.

Do you know anyone consumed by the hustle and bustle of daily life? Of course you do. This is hurry sickness. It’s an epidemic in the U.S., and it leads to sorrow, worry, anxiety, depression, anger, sleepless nights, fatigue, high blood pressure…

No one is immune. Many years ago, I was an Industrial Engineer working for a large food manufacturer. I carried a stop watch. My job was to help our workers be productive by finding more efficient ways for them to do their jobs. I created stress!

Not surprisingly, I took a lot of pressure home with me. But wasn’t this normal? It seemed that everyone I knew disliked or at best, complained about their job.

A dramatic turn took place when, in 1974, I learned to meditate. In the first week after starting a daily meditation practice, I noticed that I was looking forward to meditating at the end of the workday. Each meditation was taking my attention from my world filled with thoughts and tension to an experience of inner silence and peace. My teacher referred to this state as pure awareness.

The core or true self

There were times during meditation that I was awake and alert without thinking. My mind was calm and grounded, not distorted by thought. This is our core or true self, the essence of who we are. In this place, all is well, you are home.

I’ve continued to return to this sweet spot twice daily (10, 15 or 20 minutes in meditation) for the past 40+ years. It has changed my life in so many positive ways. I invite you to join me. Everyone who does has an exponentially more satisfying, fulfilling, and healthier life. Guaranteed.


What I want is to leap out of this personality and then sit apart from
that leaping — I’ve lived too long where I can be reached. — RUMI

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How to Find Greater Happiness

Most everyone would like more happiness. As a young man, I like most others looked for happiness HAPPY Womanthrough achievement, and was I disappointed! For starters, graduating from college and getting married brought no lasting satisfaction.

Fortunately, in my mid-twenties, I met a wise teacher who told me that there’s a deeper truth to finding joy. His teachings changed the direction of my life.

It’s all inside – be quiet

He said the nature or essence of life is bliss. (Bliss is unbounded joy or happiness, i.e. big joy.) And, by cleansing our nervous systems of stress through meditation, we could reclaim the reservoir of well-being and joy that exists inside us.

This bold declaration motivated me to take his meditation course, and ultimately become a meditation teacher. That was over 40 years ago. After just my first meditation, I was calmer, more at ease. I continued to meditate every day, growing in happiness and inner peace. This good feeling was not due to anything changing in my world other than my daily meditation practice. I hadn’t won the lottery or gotten a fabulous raise in salary. Now, I was just happy. To my surprise, smiling and laughter was coming easily.

Similar experiences come for everyone through Effortless Meditation™ practice. Recently, a couple who expressed concerns about the tension in their marriage, noticed after only a few days of meditation practice that they were more patient with each other. They also realized that they were sleeping better and happier for no apparent reason.

THAT’S IT! Happiness doesn’t need a reason to exist in your life. Happiness is a state of being. It’s our birthright.

Isn’t this obvious in our children? My four-year old granddaughter is delight personified. She doesn’t need anything to make her joyful, her happiness just is. She’s excited by life – a silly expression, a new idea, a song, jumping up and down, almost anything brings a twinkle to her eye, laughter, and enthusiasm. She exudes joy; she can’t contain it. It bubbles out of her. Wouldn’t you like to have more of that in your life?

It’s not only possible; you deserve it. In Guardians of Being: Spiritual Teachings from Our Dogs and Cats, author Eckhart Tolle states that “true happiness is found in simple, seemingly unremarkable things.”   Such as your dog running playfully through a meadow, or your child wiggling with excitement. “But to be aware of these little quiet things, (says Tolle), we need to be quiet inside. A high degree of alertness is required. Be still. Look. Listen. Be present.”

 Cultivating happiness and inner peace

How do you achieve this inner alertness and quietness? It’s really easier that you think. To cultivate it, learn to meditate, or do some yoga, stop talking and just listen, or walk mindfully through a forest.  Another exercise: observe your surroundings as you stroll silently without trying to get anywhere. Each of these will all quiet your chattering conscious thinking mind.

The deep truth is that beyond the sounds and stirrings of nature and beyond your thoughts, there is something greater, a sacredness that cannot be understood through thought. This is a reservoir of energy, joy, and inner peace. It is available to you. Just learn to quiet your mind and be still.

If you make one or more of these suggestions a regular practice, inner stillness and peace will begin to show up in your daily experience. It won’t be long till you find a level of serenity and happiness in your daily life that you never imagined.

You can get started today.


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What is the #1 reason to meditate today?

When best-selling author Deepak Chopra, M.D. was asked what is the #1 reason to meditate today, his Tune-upsimmediate response was STRESS! Stress certainly wreaks havoc in our lives. We know, for example, that psychological stress is associated with greater risk of depression, heart disease, cancer, diabetes, sleep disorders, addictions, inflammation and infectious diseases. According to the Center for Disease Control, stress is linked to 70 – 90% of conditions treated by primary care physicians.

So what’s behind the stress epidemic? First, we live in a world of overwhelming tension and pressures. Many face unrelenting fast paced challenges daily. Couple this with the limitations of time, energy, and money and you’ve got a recipe for poor health.

We are not doing so well

The National Institute of Mental Health states that 18% of the U.S. population suffers with anxiety disorders, and 17% are at risk for major depression disorders in their lifetime. The annual cost of anxiety disorders alone is over $40 billion.

Aside from physical and mental health challenges, under chronic pressure and stress, we make poor choices and decisions. Under unrelenting pressure, the rational brain gets hijacked by the emotional brain. The stress response is vital. It mobilizes us to take such action, however we are not equipped to handle constant exposure to stress hormones.

We’re at our best when we alternate regularly between rest and activity. This is why, as Dr. Chopra says, meditation practice is so important today. It brings balance to our lives.

Meditation: a key to restore dignity to life

During the practice of Effortless Meditation™, the active mind settles down and becomes quiet. As this happens, the body begins to rest deeply. This deep physiological rest releases inner tension and stress. Positive changes are seen throughout our body including the brain.

In their book Super Brain, Dr. Chopra and neurologist, Dr. Rudolf Tanzi of Harvard Medical School explain that under chronic stress we become the servant of our brain and the quality of our life deteriorates. They encourage us to take back control to experience our “higher self.” Meditation is the best way.

The good news is that what was lost can be found. Meditation is a key to reclaiming not only physical and emotional health but the qualities that we all seek, happiness, love, and peace of mind. It’s all inside us.

A physician told me that for him, “meditation is like taking a mini vacation every day.” Continue to practice it daily and your life will become more vacation like. People report that they feel more content, find more meaning in their life, and are happier after adopting a meditation practice.

There are many good reasons to meditate. A large percentage of my new meditation clients agree with Dr. Chopra. They are drawn to meditation by their desire to reduce stress, and they are grateful to discover that it works. With continued practice, they begin to experience even deeper reasons to meditate as discussed here. They are enjoying an enhanced state of well-being that they previously didn’t know existed.


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Tips to reduce holiday stress

Anxious WomanThe holidays are here and for many of us it is a time of celebration and stress. For example, my deceased, loving parents treasured the holidays. I was their only child, and they showered me with my first tastes of Christmas magic. My mom lived a long, full life and passed away suddenly the week before her favorite holiday, Christmas.  For me, these memories have a greater emotional charge at this time of year.

Many of us share such bittersweet experiences and stress at the holidays.  Perhaps your family is still intact, but your relationship with them is less that you would like.  At the holidays, we often nostalgically remember the good times in the past and regret the situation as it is today.  For others, holidays remind us of economic uncertainties.  Job security and unemployment are issues that haunt many.  For those trying to lose weight or battling an addiction, the holidays can present an especially challenging time.  For others, the winter climate in the Northeast can throw us off center.  As the daylight hours shorten, seasonal affective disorder brings on moods of sadness.

A few tips to lighten the holidays

  • First, take stock of the situation. What is in your control and what is not?
  • If you get depressed in the cold cloudy days of winter, you can’t change the weather however you could buy a “light box”. Light therapy can help.
  • If you’re concerned about your weight or addictions ramping up over the holidays, find a support group or friend with whom you can discuss your concerns.
  • Enroll in a cooking class and learn how to make tasty healthy treats vs. high calorie low nutrient fare.
  • As for the family, having realistic expectations of their behavior always helps to keep us grounded during reunions.
  • Most importantly, practice self-care.  If possible, spend some time outdoors – in the sunlight would be ideal.  Go for walks, exercise, meditate, eat nutrient dense food, and meet with people who bring joy to your life.

I teach a mental technique that will be help – Effortless Meditation™. Meditation practice will do wonders to ward off stress and lighten your spirits at any time of the year.  It brings balance into your life.

Greg Schweitzer

Effortless Meditation™ teacher, Wellness coach, Speaker

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Do you yearn for peace?

Anxious WomanThe world community was shattered again, in a big way, by tragic acts of violence in Europe and around the globe. Fear and sadness abounds and the voice inside us wants to understand.  We yearn for peace. 

Yesterday, I listened to analysts talking about terrorist groups and some of the ways in which they become radicalized. There’s a lot of understanding about the making of a terrorist.  What’s missing is creative solutions to grow peace.

Being the Solution

Did you know that there’s a statement in the UN Charter that says war begins in the mind?

Under chronic pressure and stress, and who isn’t, the fight or flight response rules.  Fuzzy thinking and overwhelm dominate the lives of far too many.  As a coping strategy, we start labeling people familiar to us as US and others as THEM. We divide ourselves.  This divisive thinking is based in the ego’s quest for safety and the desire to be known. It’s the breeding ground of mistrust and hostility.

Without corrective action, we grow in frustration, anger, and resentment. Are we helping the cause of peace when we are holding these emotions and stress inside?  I think not. If you’re not a part of the solution, you are a part of the problem. Is this what you want for your life, for your world?

The good news is there is wisdom from ancient cultures that can help us. They’ve told us how to create peace and live a healthy life. The key is to quiet the mind.  A quiet or still mind does not see differences, it just sees what is. It doesn’t judge itself or others.

Us vs. Them thinking drops away when the mind is still, quiet. There is nothing to fear.  Fortunately today, there’s a growing understanding of the need for bringing peace to our turbulent minds.

The other day I was reading about one such initiative, the work of the David Lynch Foundation.  They have funded the teaching of children in at-risk schools the practice of Transcendental Meditation®. The daily meditation periods are referred to as “quiet time.” Over a couple years, the schools implementing the quiet time programs are transformed. Kids excel and the school environment blossoms.  Both parents and administrators are thrilled with the impact of quiet time in the school day.

Make a practice of quieting your mind and you’ll experience your relationships becoming more harmonious. The practice of quieting the mind cultures more tender qualities of the heart. With a quiet mind, we become better listeners, more attentive and receptive. And a quiet mind brings peace to the body, manifesting as better physical health. Bring enough minds to silence and over time, our outer environments transform as is happening in schools, prisons and other environments implementing meditation quiet time programs. There is an antidote for hostility and stress and it’s easy to implement.

Steps to take now

Peace also begins in the mind, and it starts with each one of us. Here’s several things you can do to create a peaceful world.

  • Spend some time each day quieting your mind. Use meditation, prayer, yoga, painting, just do something to quiet the mind. Try it; you have nothing to lose and much to gain.
  • During your day, look for similarities among people. We are far more similar than different.
  • Reach out and smile. It’s contagious.
  • At the end of each day, list four things that you were grateful for that day.

These may seem like small things but they are big.

Greg Schweitzer 

Director, Stress Reduction Resources

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