The word “happy” is an action adjective, which seems to point toward some form of action as being necessary in order to achieve this favorite of all emotions.

And action is required. But that action is as simple as this: Make a decision to be happy.

There’s no need to complicate this concept by saying happiness must be earned, or that it is a fundamental right as mentioned in the Declaration of Independence.  There are no caveats, such as “I’ll be happy when I get that job, or that new car or house, or that boyfriend.”

Instead, choose to be happy — yes, choose — and all those things may follow.

You certainly do have the right to pursue happiness, but the first step might be make happiness happen yourself. Nataly Kogan knows a lot about capturing happiness. This former New York City digital media executive and investor said she founded after discovering that success and achievement didn’t exactly fill the bill for bliss.

Nataly said she turned to science in order to understand what truly leads to happiness, and she claims that, through her company’s mobile apps and wellness courses, nearly a million people have begun to live meaningful and full lives.

At the age of 13, Nataly and her family arrived in the United States as Russian refugees, and she recalls this experience of struggle and triumph for shaping her into the woman she is today. I am sharing her “10 Commandments of Happier-ness” below. And while I can’t improve on what Nataly writes, I’ve added a few comments of my own at the end.


  1. Happier-ness isn’t something you feel, but something you do. It’s a skill every one of us has and can improve by regularly practicing the scientifically proven habits of gratitude, kindness and mindfulness.
  1. It’s OK to be not OK. True emotional well being is not the absence of negative emotions. It’s the practice of strengthening your emotional immune system so that you learn how to be OK even when not everything is OK.
  1. “I’ll be happy when…” is the surest way to never feel happy enough. Genuine emotional wellness can only be nurtured from within.
  1. Gratitude, kindness and mindfulness are the three anchors of happier-ness practice. Make them a non-negotiable part of your day, put them on your to-do list, and do them — even if you don’t feel like it.
  1. Be Here Now (however now is). When you become awake to what is and how you feel right now, without judgment or expectations, you gain clarity and strength.
  1. You can practice gratitude in every moment, even when life sucks. When you look for something to appreciate — however small — your brain releases serotonin and dopamine, both of which make you feel better. Gratitude is magic medicine that never runs out.
  1. Be kind without expecting anything in return. Do it because it feels better to be kind than not. You experience 100 percent of the emotions you give to others, so when you act kindly, you feel kindness towards yourself.
  1. Seek meaning more often than happiness. The simplest acts — if meaningful to you — will bring you closer to feeling full, alive and happier.
  1. Don’t try to be fearless. Accept your fear and move into love, commitment, passion and dedication for what you are doing.
  1. You can’t give what you don’t have. Taking care of your emotional well being is the greatest gift you can give to the people you love.

Didn’t I tell you these would be great suggestions for happiness?  And they can all work in your life if you simply make a decision to be happy and then do just that. Many people have this concept in reverse order. They believe that a trip to Montana will make them happy. Or a new dog or cat will make them happy. The expected result, however, is often disappointing.

And don’t forget — gratitude is a huge element in happiness. At some point in each day, it’s good to reflect on the things in your life that are going well. That solitary, personal action on its own is good for an enormous boost in your happiness level.

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About The Author: Annie M. Fonte is the founder and CEO of Meet Me At The Barn — a self-mastery and personal development program designed to help people of purpose achieve their highest level of living. With an MBA from Harvard University, Annie has founded numerous successful ventures in health care, sports medicine, continuing education and hard goods. At Meet Me At The Barn, Annie and her team produce live and online courses that guide clients toward living an authentic life and that help people discover and pursue their true self and passions.