We hear it over and over: It’s the little things that count. Turns out the cliché is dead-on. Research shows that one of the most important secrets to a happy life is to relish the many small moments that bring delight—ones you may not even notice. When you start calling attention to them, your mind becomes more inclined toward joy, explains Chade-Meng Tan, a Google engineer turned happiness guru and the author of Joy on Demand. “Over time, joy and happiness become increasingly effortless,” he says. The best part? Getting there is ridiculously easy.
Week 1: Take note
Think of sinking your teeth into your favorite dessert or that moment in the shower when the hot water first touches your skin—“any fleeting moments of joy in life that are not super intense,” says Tan. This week, start picking up on them. “All you have to do is notice the joy and bring attention to the pleasantness,” he explains.
Be here now. Focus on the bite-size pleasures already in your day. “After a number of times, a habit will form,” says Tan.
Live out loud. Being vocal when something delights you will help you revel in the moment, says happiness researcher Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project. Let out a “mmm” after your delicious first sip of coffee in the a.m., for instance. “My family makes fun of me because every time I get in bed, I involuntarily make this ‘ahhh’ noise, but it feels so good to slide between the sheets,” says Rubin.