We all want to be happy, but not everyone can afford an expensive trip to the psychiatrist and maintain filing a pricey subscription for happy pills every month. Some of us need to find a way to feel better. But is it possible to be happy for free?
Modern society tell us it’s not. We are programmed to believe that in order to get that highly sought after boost of endorphins, we must buy something expensive, eat something expensive, and drive something expensive. In other words, we have become conditioned to believe that happiness—is expensive.
I’m here to bust the mythical connection between cash and contentment. Listen up folks, because IT IS possible to give yourself a mood boost without spending a dime!
Here are 10 ways to feel good for free
1) Hold a baby
As long as the baby isn’t screaming, it’s almost impossible to be upset while holding something so precious. For most people, babies unlock our instinctual desires to nurture and provide for another human being. For best results, hold while the baby is asleep.
2) Get a hug
I’m sure there is someone close by who would hug you for free. If not, you can always go to an AA meeting where everyone hugs all time. In our overly sanitized existence, we tend to forget about the importance of human contact. Getting hugged, even if it’s from a stranger, makes us feel less alone. Awesome.
You may be surprised to discover that the whole “fake it till you make it” mantra actually applies to mood elevation. The act of smiling tricks your body into releasing endorphins. Plus, chances are higher someone will strike up a friendly conversation with you if you’re smiling, instead of scowling.
4) Have sex
Hopefully it’s the kind of sex that leaves you filled with joy, instead of regret. Sex definitely makes you feel less alone, and usually it’s something you can get for free. If you just can’t find a partner to get between the sheets with, you can always opt for a solo mission. For best results, don’t be drunk, and do it with someone you like.
5) Smell something good
The sense of smell is strongly connected to memory. A wave of familiar perfume, or the scent of mom’s home cooking can induce sentimental bouts of nostalgia in even the most hardened of hearts. Pleasant smells bring about pleasant thoughts.
6) Go for a walk
Exercise releases endorphins, but you don’t have to kill yourself on the stairmaster to get the feel-good effects of working out. A brisk walk around the old neighborhood is a great excuse to get out of house, without having to spend any money!
7) Dress up for no reason
We all have that fancy dress or suit that we spend way too much money on that just sits in the back of the closet and never sees the light of say because “we have nowhere nice to wear it.” Believe it or not, it can be a lot of fun to be completely overdressed for an occasion. Throw on some nice clothes, and go read a book at a coffee shop. Get extra spruced up for work one day just because. At the very least, you will be bombarded with compliments all day. Dang, life is tough.
8) Make a gratitude list
It may sound cheesy, but you really should think about what you’re grateful for more than once a year. Include even the very basics—water, clean sheets, a roof over your head. Focusing on what you have, instead of what you want helps put things in perspective and take you out of that dangerous cycle of self-obsession we tend to get stuck in when we’re unhappy.
9) Get some sun
Put sunscreen on first. Then go out and get sun. Sunlight is always free! Studies have shown that people who live in the Northern Hemisphere suffer from higher rates of depression due to a lack of available sunlight. Plus, everyone looks better with a tan, and when you look better, you feel better!
10) Keep a plant nearby
If you can’t commit to a pet, get a plant. Being around living things is good for you, even if they can’t talk. Many offices include greenery because plants help increase productivity and worker satisfaction. Keep a pet plant to brighten your day—just don’t forget to water it!
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Jessica Ruane is a freelance blogger based in San Diego, CA who specializes in humorous articles on self-improvement. To read more of her work, follow her main client on Twitter or add them on Google +.