Craving Cuba's Zuzy Martin-Aly shares Happier Now author Nataly Kogan's five tips to deal with COVID-19 stress — which we all have.

How many times have you woken up over the last few months shaking your head and questioning the new COVID world? Fought like never before with your loved ones? Questioned your own sanity? Asked yourself, “When the f@#$ is this going to end?!” For someone who was obnoxiously positive at times, I was shocked to discover myself falling into some of these negative thought patterns during quarantine. Enter Nataly Kogan, the author of Happier Now.

Thankfully, just as light has seemingly started to shine through the corona-haze, I was lucky enough to interview Nataly Kogan, author of Happier Now and founder of, to get some advice on how to shift and recalibrate into a better place. 

One important thing that Nataly pointed out was that happiness does not equal positivity.

Zuzy and Ken speak with author Nataly Kogan.

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Taking care of yourself is the least selfish thing you can do!

Now —before the eye-rolls that sometimes come when you try to impose “positivity” into a stressful situation— one important thing that Nataly pointed out was that happiness does not equal positivity. It actually is a state where one is able to embrace all emotions with compassion.  Nataly shared that uncertainty is the hardest thing for the brain to handle, and uncertainty seems to be the constant these days.

happier now
Happier Now: Nataly Kogan

Nataly Kogan’s 5 Tips to “Happier” in a COVID World:

1. Practice Gratitude Daily

Gratitude helps your mood and health and according to Harvard Medical School, it is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Many of us know this, but don’t practice it. Don’t just know it, do it. Nataly suggests trying three “gratitudes” before you roll over to grab your phone every morning.

2. Invest in Self-Care

For all the selfless people out there, you’re angels, BUT…you’ll actually be able to help your loved ones MORE if you take care of yourself first. Identify what self-care means to you and prioritize it first. Taking care of yourself is the least selfish thing you can do!

3. Be Intentional About Connecting With People

You will find joy in meaningful interactions. Do this by being purposeful and present in deciding when, with whom and how long you connect with someone. Watch the video above to hear Nataly talk about this.

4. Fight For Joy! It’s Transformative

Take 10-15 minute breaks throughout the day to do something that brings you joy. 

5. Think Compassionate Thoughts 

Happiness is not about smiling and being positive all the time. It means that you know how to embrace all of your emotions with compassion.

Nataly Kogan
Nataly Kogan will be joining us for a live discussion at

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Zuzy Martin-Aly is the Co-Founder and Creative Director of Startup Cuba. She's an award-winning filmmaker, producer and writer with a passion for bringing voice to stories that need to be told. Zuzy’s family came to the Elizabeth, NJ from Cuba in the 1960s. Her award-winning documentary film, Craving Cuba, explores what it means to be American and the complicated relationship that Cuban Americans have historically had with Cuba. The documentary was accepted into 13 film festivals, winning awards for best documentary feature and editing. Zuzy often speaks across the country on the topic of identity. She was invited to speak at the United Nations about the importance of exploring identity and finding one’s voice through the power of independent film. She is working on several creative projects including recently co-creating Two Cuban Girls and a Bald Guy with StartupCuba and, a travel series with a focus on Latin America aimed at building bridges, breaking down stereotypes, and inspiring people across communities.

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