5 Steps to a Happier You

Nataly Kogan Headshot

Nataly Kogan, acclaimed speaker and author of “Happier Now,” knows that happiness isn’t just something you feel; it’s something you can practice. Follow Nataly’s 5 easy steps to find happiness in the little things and make every day a better day.

Happiness isn’t something you feel, it’s something you do.

It’s a skill you can cultivate through practice, just like you can improve your ability to write, play a musical instrument, or cook. It’s a skill you can cultivate at any time and you don’t have to wait until you have done enough, achieved enough, or arranged things in your life as perfectly as you think they should be. And the practices that help cultivate your happier skills are simple and don’t require more than a few minutes a day.

To help you fit these scientifically-based practices into your busy schedule, I’ve created the 5-minute Happier Workout, which I share in my book, Happier Now.

Step 1. Acceptance

Acceptance of our situation and feelings, especially when they’re difficult, allows us the clarity to make better decisions about how to move through them.

How to do it: Spend one or two minutes being still and silent. Just hit pause on your day and be. Take a few deep breaths, become aware of your body in space. Close your eyes if you can. Be who you are right now, witnessing your thoughts and feelings without judgment, without feeling bad or needing to fix anything.

Step 2. Gratitude

Gratitude helps us experience more moments of joy within the lives we already have, without having to do anything to change them. It helps us counter our brain’s frustrating tendency of focusing on the negative, as well as take fewer things for granted.

How to do it: Think about two or three things you’re grateful for right now. Be specific and capture what you’re grateful for in some way — write it down, take a photo, say it, or text it to someone else.

Step 3. Intentional kindness

Being intentionally kind towards other people helps strengthen our human connections so that we feel safe and supported by a meaningful network.

How to do it: Do something kind. It can be as simple as texting a friend to check in. You can also combine gratitude with intentional kindness by sending an email or text to someone you appreciate and telling them why you feel that way. If you can’t do something kind now, make a plan and set an intention to do it later in the day. Try to be specific about what you will do.

Step 4. The bigger why

Connecting to our sense of meaning helps us see more of what we do at work and at home as being in service to our higher purpose.

How to do it: Think about a few things you have to get done today and how they might serve your purpose. For example, is something on your to-do list helping another person? Sharing one of your strengths with others? Helping you hone your craft or skill?

Step 5. Self-care

The practice of self-care—nurturing a kinder relationship with ourselves—is essential because it’s impossible to feel happier if we’re emotionally, spiritually, and physically drained.

How to do it: Spend a few seconds talking to yourself in a supportive, kind way. If you’re facing a challenge, remind yourself that you’re more likely to get through it if you treat yourself with compassion rather than harshness. You can also take this time to think of one thing you’ll do today to nourish yourself.

When you’re done, say thank you to yourself for sticking to your commitment and for taking some time to cultivate your happier skills. You’re awesome for making the choice to do this — for you!

Nataly Kogan Happier Now

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