Those of us who live in western cultures understand that there is a social stigma that tells us that if we are not feeling happy, then we are doing something wrong. This being the case, we spend thousands upon thousands of dollars in an attempt to make ourselves feel better. We go to therapy and pay for someone to listen to our problems, we go out to eat, order in, and get fat but the food feels so good going down. We buy things. We buy a lot of things. So many things that our houses can’t hold them all and we have to buy storage units to hold our stuff. In the end, many people still do not feel good about themselves. And it is primarily because they are taking the wrong approach.
I am not knocking therapists here, I understand their importance and I know that they can help in some situations. What I am trying to downplay is the fact that many people seek therapy for non-issues. They don’t like their job, they are gaining weight, or they are feeling listless and bored. Now often there are real problems, and people need a third party to talk to. But more often spending some time with friends and family instead of glued to electronics will allow people to find the comfort they need. The end cost: whatever the price of dinner and a board game is.
Lumped into this category I must include alcohol. Something that Homer Simpson once called, “the cause of – and solution to – all of life’s problems.” Anyone who has been trapped in the food cycle knows that you eat to feel better, which makes you fat, so you eat to feel better. So much so that many people go for months and years without really feeling good simply because they have been unhealthy for so long. Instead of stopping the cycle (which admittedly is not easy to do) they spend thousands of dollars on specialty diets, seek out food therapists or counselors, and they try to binge their way back to being healthy. But when times get tough, they go right back to their old ways.
It starts small. You buy a toy that you like, but you need the accessory. Purchase upon purchase builds up, and soon you have way more stuff than you know what to do with. You buy a four-wheeler, but you need a trailer for it. You buy a trailer, but you need a bigger truck to pull it. You buy a bigger truck and you need a bigger garage. You buy a bigger house and garage, but now you have to work more to afford the mortgage. You work so much that you want to escape on the weekends, so you get a boat and look into renting a lake house. In the end, you are not any happier than when you were a kid playing with sticks in the mud. Your expensive house is cluttered, and you have debt coming out your ears.
You get the point; there are countless ways we try to make ourselves happier. But what many people do not realize is that the solution is simple and cheap. Anti-depressants are actually free if you know where to find them. And I will tell you how to find them: eat health and exercise. That is all there is to it. Eat good whole foods (they don’t have to be expensive, just skip the processed junk and cook it yourself), the ones your body craves anyways (stop and think, maybe your body is telling you something when you get depressed after eating fatty foods). While you are eating healthy, act healthy. Exercise will help to increase endorphins in your blood stream. These are natural anti-depressants. Skip the chemicals and make your own. You will save money, feel better, and live longer.
Sometimes you have to spend money on things. After a loved one passes, talking to a neutral third party is often the best thing to do, and getting prescribed some temporary anti-depressants can help get you out of a slump. But for those everyday blues, those times you just plod along trying to make yourself happy by eating, buying, and looking at all your stuff; maybe it is time to simplify. Start getting rid of the junk, go back to what used to make you happy, exercise daily and focus on the little things. Not only will you save money, but you will see the world in a different light. Eventually you will realize that happiness isn’t about accumulating things, but rather about making the most of what you have and being content.
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