Whether it’s looking for a new job, craving more alone time, or coveting more money, it’s easy to build a barrier between our current situation and the ever-elusive state of ‘happy’. But, there is another way! Nataly Kogan, founder of Happier.com, believes in the 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 happy now because (blank),” she suggests. Happier was founded on the idea that being mindful about the positive moments in your life breeds a better outlook. According to Kogan, making positivity a priority can help everything else fall into place – from making better lifestyle choices to enjoying a better night’s sleep. Here are five simple steps to help you feel more present, right now…
1. Practice Gratitude
“As soon as you’re done reading this article, write down or say out loud one thing you appreciate just right now,” Kogan says. Try keeping a notebook by your bed and write something that you’re happy about inside it every night before you go to sleep. It’s a really simple exercise that will help you to practice mindfulness every day.
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. If you really haven’t got time then wait until you get home and try 20 minutes of stretching or yoga (YouTube has tons of great, free, at-home routines) to gently get your blood pumping and your muscles working.
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 porridge.
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 favourite snack on her desk; do the dishes for your roommate.