5 Ways To Feel Happier NOW

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Whether it's finally quitting a dead-end job, moving on from a relationship we've outgrown, or relocating to a new city, sometimes, a life makeover is exactly what we need. Other times, all we really need to get happy is one small activity — maybe even a habit. In that "it's the little things" spirit, we tapped Tiffany Sun, head of content at well-being app Happify, for her five go-to practices for getting happy fast. Read on and prepare for a rush of contentment.

1. Visualize a reward on your horizon.
"Think about something that you’re looking forward to," Sun recommends. "It could be an upcoming vacation, it could be a dinner with girlfriends, getting a manicure on the weekend...something that you’re looking forward to with optimism rather than dread." Picturing even a small burst of pleasure can instantly uplift you — especially if you get specific. "The key is to imagine all the details," Sun explains. So, if you're imagining a future vacation, "think about what the breeze is going feel like against your skin, or the cocktail that you’re going to be sipping by the pool...anticipating upcoming events actually prolongs our excitement for them and also boosts our optimism." It's almost like you get to go on vacation before you even leave.
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2. Take a gratitude time-out.
It's all too easy to hone in on what hasn't gone right in our days or weeks and dwell on that — replaying an awkward conversation in our heads or kicking ourselves for not coming up with just the right response to a backhanded compliment. To ditch the negativity, try doing the opposite — in the form of the "three good things" exercise, backed up by research from the University of Pennsylvania. "It’s really about looking back over your day or your week and thinking about three good things that happened to you," Sun says. "Again, the more specific your recollection is, the better. Think about a specific instance — maybe someone did something nice for you, or maybe you lucked out and got an umbrella when it was pouring." Keep a gratitude journal recording these instances for bonus happy points.

3. Slow down — way down.
Every now and then, switch off your cruise control and pay close attention to what you're doing. "Pick a ritual that you can savor — maybe it’s doing something in slow-mo," Sun suggests. "Instead of frantically coming home, dumping your stuff on the couch, and drinking a really quick glass of wine” — has she been spying on us? — "maybe prepare yourself a mug of tea, and do it really slowly and thoughtfully and actually concentrate and focus on each thing as you’re doing it." With enough mindfulness, even drink preparation can become a form of meditation: "You’re noticing the smell as soon as you put the teabag in the water and as soon as you lift it up, taking five extra seconds to smell it before you drink it, and then feeling what the heat of the liquid actually feels like in your mouth," Sun describes. This close attention to detail ramps up our appreciation for however it is we're treating ourselves.

4. Do something nice for someone today — not once, but five times (at least!).
"When we give to others, it activates the reward centers in our brain," Sun points out. And, when it comes to kindness, five may be the magic number: "There’s specific research by Sonja Lyubomirsky at UC Riverside that says that doing five acts of kindness in a day is a more powerful happiness-booster than doing one," Sun shares. "We do kind acts without really thinking about it, so when you do several — when you actually give yourself a challenge — you go out of your way to do them and you notice it more. They could be anything from giving an extra smile to the security guard in the lobby of your building to holding the door for someone that you would normally kind of run by because you’re on your way back from lunch. Or, paying the toll for someone behind you." Acts of kindness don't have to be monumental or cost much/anything — and they'll reward you as much as the people for whom you do them.

5. Shore up your confidence.
Other than blasting pump-up music (a well-recommended technique), how can we reclaim a sense of happiness in stressful times? Simple: "Think of a really big win that you had in the past and recall as many details about it as you can," Sun says. "Let’s say you are about to give a big presentation to a bunch of important people at work. Take a couple minutes before you start to close your eyes and imagine the last time you just really killed it." Bask in that accomplished glow; then, go forth and conquer. Drawing strength from your track record solidifies your awareness of your awesomeness, propelling you to future big wins.