5 Steps You Can Take Today to Be Happier

At the end 2009 I lost my mojo. I was laid off at my high paying job of 6 years and I moved from Chicago to Las Vegas (Yes, Yes I know) to start a new business and live with my new business partner. We had a five bedroom house, a pool and rent was cheap. Sounds pretty amazing right?


My business partner wasn’t what I expected, my girlfriend left me, the business was failing and I lived in the middle of the dessert. There wasn’t a day I woke up and wasn’t full of sadness.

I had to search for happiness. 

As I sit here today and reflect, I am the happiest I have ever been, so grateful to live in beautiful Southern California, work as a personal trainer at 34 North in Santa Monica, and spend time with the most amazing people I could possibly imagine, I realize happiness is your choice. Everything is your choice.

 “Folks are usually about as happy as they make their minds up to be.”  Abraham Lincoln

After a lot of research, speaking to other happy people and making a firm choice to commit to happiness, I use these 5 Steps to live a happy and healthy life.

  1. Write down 3 NEW things you are grateful for each day – Did you get to do something fun today you don’t normal do or did you give a stranger compliment you in line at the grocery store? Even little things can provide gratitude. I usually write mine down before I go to bed each night.
  2. Move for at least 30 minutes per day – This can range from a personal training session to a beach workout, bike ride or hike. The point is to get up and move. Personally, this is the most important one for me as exercise is so important to my confidence and mood.
  3. Journal everything you can remember about 1 positive experience that day – Be detailed. Describe this experience like you want to tell the world about your best day ever. Science says this will create stronger neuro pathways in your brain and release more serotonin next time you have a new experience.  This is easy to do when you write down 3 new things you are grateful for.
  4. Meditate – Five to twenty minutes alone with your breath, stress free.  The research says mediation will help you relax, improve your focus, put you in a better mood and even help you live longer. It’s definitely an acquired skill, so don’t get discouraged and most importantly stay consistent. You will see the payoff.
  5. Write someone a personal note praising them – This one has been the most gratifying for me and creates deeper, more meaningful relationships with people you care about.  This could be a 2-line email or a hand written note to someone expressing your gratitude for the role they play in your life.

My recommendation is to try and consistently do all 5 steps each day, however even 1 or 2 will make a big difference.

To kick things off I invite you to take the Happiness Challenge with me. I can’t think of a better way to start off the New Year than 21 days of happiness.

Here are the rules:

  1. Keep a journal with 21 consecutive days of completing all 5 steps
  2. Email kevineatkinson@gmail.com when you start and when you end to with any questions or to discuss how things went!

Be Awesome and Happy!

Kevin Atkinson – Coach and Business Development at 34 North - BS Degree, Exercise Sport and Science, Oregon State University, NASM – CPT, Co-Founder at Renegade Roasting Co.