A Powerful Three-Step Algorithm for Happiness

Post written by Leo Babauta.

Today I’m going to share a really simple secret that can make your day instantly better. If you’re feeling down, it can make you happier, all day long.

It’s something I’ve been trying myself, with great results.

It’s three steps, and anyone can do them. This is an algorithm that can be repeated over and over, all day long. It starts with a basic assumption: that we are all human beings capable of goodness, of love, of pain, of broken hearts and passionate love. That we all have bad days, that inside our jaded exteriors is a person who just wants love.

It is based on my observation that we take other people for granted, and that we judge others and become irritated with them for almost no good reasons, and we expect everyone to make us happy or at least behave the way we want them to, and if they don’t, our day is ruined. That’s crazy. People are living their own lives, and aren’t trying to please us or act in accordance with our expectations, and once we accept that, we can be happy.

Here are the three steps. They might sound silly to some of you, but I urge you to give them a try. For just one day. Even just an hour. They are powerful, and they work.

1. Think “I love you, and I’m thankful for you” to every single person today. This sounds kinda silly perhaps, but it works. Seriously, try it. Look at each person you pass or encounter today, and think to yourself (as if you’re talking to the person you’re looking at), “I love you, and I’m thankful for you.” Try to say it with feeling. Mean it! Even to those you pass on the street, in the elevator, while you’re driving (you might only see them for a split second, from a distance).

2. Smile at that person, and look them in the eye. Many of us are used to not looking people in the eye, avoiding contact. But looking someone in the eye is acknowledging their existence and human-ness, and establishing a connection. Smiling helps pass your happiness on to others. Obviously you can’t do this if the person is far from you or driving past you, but when you can, apply this step.

3. If you feel comfortable, say it aloud to that person. Say, “I love you and I’m thankful for you.” You’ll probably only say this to people you know very well (though the bold among you might say it to strangers!). If you’re not comfortable with that, try to say it with actions instead of words. A simple hug, doing something nice, spending time with someone while treating them kindly, doing a favor without expecting a return favor, just being thoughtful. Obviously you can’t do this step with everyone you pass, but the more people you apply this step to, the better.

Try these steps, please.

Also know that I love you. And I’m grateful that you’re alive.