How many times have you said to yourself, “I could be happy if only ___”? Whether it’s a new job, more money, or even just a little more alone time, it’s easy to build a barrier between our current situation and the ever-elusive state of “happy.”
Now for some good news: There is another way. Nataly Kogan, founder of Happier.com, preaches the discipline of appreciating the little things in our everyday lives—even something as small as a delicious cup of coffee. “Stop saying, ‘I’ll be happy when (blank),’ and start saying ‘I’m happier now because (blank),’” she suggests. Happier was founded on the idea that positivity and gratitude breed a better outlook. In fact, Kogan prefers not to define the word “happy” at all: “We’re all making ourselves miserable chasing this nirvana state that doesn’t exist.”
According to Kogan, making positivity a priority can help everything else fall into place: “Optimistic people catch fewer colds and flus, make better lifestyle choices, and sleep better.” Here are five simple steps to help you feel more present, right now:
1. Practice Gratitude
“As soon you’re soon as done reading this article, write down or say out loud one thing you appreciate just right now,” Kogan says.
2. Express Thanks to Someone Else
“Send an email or a text to someone you appreciate and tell them thank you.” In fact, this easy-as-pie act could help your overall physical health—Kogan says that according to one study, people who wrote thank you letters once a week for three weeks experienced major stress reduction.
3. Take a Break
Even if it’s just a stroll around the block, 20 minutes of fresh air—in any climate—can help you develop a healthier, more positive mindset. Exercise gets your blood flowing and helps you think things out. “It’s a daily escape into a positive you,” Kogan says.
4. Create a Daily Gratitude Ritual
Every morning, before her family wakes up for the day, Kogan goes out for a walk by herself. “Before I take my first step I think of something good that happened the day before,” she says. Creating a gratitude ritual around something you already do makes it easy—we're trying to sneak in a positive thought alongside our morning oatmeal.
5. Do Something Nice For Someone Else
There’s a lot of research out there that suggests that performing acts of kindness makes you a happier person. “Acts of kindness connect us to other people.” Kogan suggests something easy: Pay your friend a compliment; leave your coworker’s favorite snack on her desk; do the dishes for your roommate.
*Happier now offers mobile happiness courses in addition to its gratitude journals. Hop over to the site to get started!