Last week, I wrote about how looking to the future for your happiness will be wrought with disappointment. This week, I wanted to talk about ways to increase your joy today. The true path to happiness lies in the present, and practicing gratitude and thankfulness are the keys.

1. Send a Thank You

Take a moment from your busy day to send a simple ‘Thank you.’ It could be to a loved one, a coworker, an acquaintance, or a friend. Send it via email or text; write it on someone’s wall. Think about something nice that someone has done for you recently, and thank them.

It doesn’t have to be extravagant. You don’t have to spend any money. It can just be those two words: Thank you! It’ll brighten someone else’s day, and you’ll feel good about it to boot.

2. Spend Money… on Someone Else

Keeping with the theme of doing for others, spend some money on someone else. Take a friend out to lunch. Buy a small gift for a loved one. Make a donation to charity.

These small acts will both be meaningful to the recipient as well as have you feeling good.

3. Spend Money… on Experiences

Activities and experiences have been scientifically proven to elevate one’s mood more than the possession of material goods. Take a trip. Go camping. Rent a canoe.

Bonus points if you do it with people that you care about. It’s also been shown that anticipation and making plans gives its own boost to mood as well.

4. Give Thanks Daily

Every morning or every night before you go to bed, think about three things that you are grateful for. It can be anything. It could even be just the fact that you have another day, another opportunity to be great.

Many people keep a daily gratitude journal in which they write down at least three things each day that they are grateful for. They then can revisit these things when they are feeling down.

5. Mental Subtraction

Taking the gratitude exercise one step further, think about what your life would be like if you didn’t have what you are grateful for. What would your life look like if you hadn’t gotten that job or promotion? What about if you hadn’t met your partner or significant other? What would it be like if you never finished college?

Whatever event you know has had a positive effect on your life, think about what your life would be like if it hadn’t happened at all. There are often things that we take for granted in our lives. This practice helps to breathe new appreciation into those things.

Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings. ~William Arthur Ward