What if we told you that you were one of the wealthiest people in the world?
Before you scratch your head and check your wallet, pause for a moment and think about the assets in your life. Not just the dollar bills in the safe, but the other valuables you have. The ones that actually matter.
Sure, money can buy a lot of things -- but that's it. They're just things. Material possessions are great, but happiness doesn't come from the items we own. It comes from a toddler's giggle or your mom's cooking. It shows up on a sunny day or seeing your best friend walk down the aisle.
When it comes down to it, the riches in our bank accounts don't compare to the seven riches below. Here's evidence that the best things in life don't cost a single penny.
Admit it, there's nothing like a warm embrace from someone you care about. Hugs can do a lot more than just make you feel good for a split moment. Research shows they may lower your blood pressure and boost your heart. Not bad for a small (and free!) gesture.
Friends and family.
You can't put a price point on your loved ones. They're worth everything without costing a single dime (except for maybe those few bucks you let them borrow for that smoothie when they were short). It's a small price to pay when you consider the real value they add to your life. Studies suggest that friendships bring huge health perks, from increased longevity to improved mood.
Pro-tip: The more you grin, the more joy you'll feel. According to one 2012 study, people who received a smile from strangers felt a greater sense of social connectedness. And who doesn't want to feel like they belong? Not to mention those "knowing smiles" you share with your best friends after an inside joke. So go on and flash those pearly whites.
Happiness is a satisfying nap or a good night's rest. Sometimes there's just no better feeling than crawling into a comfortable bed and letting our minds drift away to dreamland. The body and brain suffers dramatically without proper sleep. Better health for just a little more shuteye? That's invaluable.
It's hard not to feel your absolute best when you're in the middle of a belly-aching fit of laughter. It also has incredible health benefits. Research suggests that laughing may boost our memory and can lower stress. Hey, the giggles look good on you (and they probably cost less than that shirt).
Let's be honest, who hasn't replayed some of their best times in their head? (Bonus points if you let it play in a montage like a movie.) Nostalgia is one of our mind's greatest indulgences -- and it's totally OK to embrace it. Studies have found that nostalgia can decrease loneliness and anxiety. Think back on your perfect prom or your wonderful wedding day. Research shows we spend 47 percent of our waking hours daydreaming, so why not put it to good use?
The Beatles were most certainly onto something when they crooned in their 1960s hit, "All You Need Is Love." Feeling accepted is crucial to our emotional wellness. We're happier, our immune system is stronger and even our heart health is improved when we're around the people we love, Woman's Day reported. Sounds like a richer, fuller life to us.
So, go hug your best friend, kiss your significant other, create good memories with your family and make a stranger feel loved with a simple smile (and then go to sleep). All without draining your pocketbook.
This GPS Guide is part of a series of posts designed to bring you back to balance when you're feeling off course.
GPS Guides are our way of showing you what has relieved others' stress in the hopes that you will be able to identify solutions that work for you. We all have de-stressing "secret weapons" that we pull out in times of tension or anxiety, whether they be photos that relax us or make us smile, songs that bring us back to our heart, quotes or poems that create a feeling of harmony or meditative exercises that help us find a sense of silence and calm. We encourage you to visit our other GPS Guides here, and share with us your own personal tips for finding peace, balance and tranquility.
‘The best things in life are free.’ Write about some of the occasions when you have found this to be true.
Let us start with the proposition that it is often not easy to do the right thing. Yet, almost by definition, it is a good thing to do the right thing. It often costs us no money to do what is morally and ethically right, but these difficult things that litter the paths of our lives often prove to be the very best things in life.
I once found a fifty dollar note fluttering about in a car park, back in primary school when my daily allowance amounted to a grand thirty cents. This find obviously was an unbelievable fortune to my young eyes, a fortune I was loath to part with. My father turned to me and asked, “What shall we do with that now?” In school, we are trained not to take something that is not ours, and so, painful as it was, I replied, “I think we should give it to the police in case someone lost his money and wants to find it again.”
This decision may not have cost me any money in a technical sense, but in the moment it certainly felt like it did. Nevertheless, my father and I headed to the police station, where I am certain the adults traded many “I’m trying very hard not to laugh” smiles while trying to act with the necessary gravitas (dignity) to properly reward the child with good intentions. The police listened to my story, and — shockingly, to my present sensibilities — told us that they would keep the money for three days, just in case someone came forward to claim the money. They told us that if the money went unclaimed, I could rightfully claim it as mine, because of my honesty.
Psychologists (see Jonathan Haidt’s The Righteous Mind) have found that getting the approval of socially significant others — such as parents and the police — has a very significant effect on self-esteem. Our brains process this as a kind of pleasure, and indeed, on this occasion I enjoyed the collective approbation (approval/praise) of adults I both feared and respected. This experience proved to me that the best things in life are free. Incidentally, we managed to retrieve the money after the three days passed; the difficult and rewarding thing that I did indeed proved to be free.
On another occasion, I decided to help a stranger, a decision that cost me nothing and brightened the day of a complete stranger. I had been having an extremely stressful day studying in the library, when I decided to head to a snack vending machine to give myself some kind of snack boost. I was thoroughly preoccupied with panicky thoughts about the upcoming examinations while waiting for my turn. The girl in front of me stood aside with a strangely distressed look on her face while rummaging about for more coins. It was then that I noticed her choice of snack hanging off the edge of the vending machine’s shelf without being dispensed — a vending machine failure! She quickly realised that she had no coins left, and was about to leave without the snack she paid for when I told her to wait. There was an easy solution to the problem at hand. All I had to do was to buy the same snack that was hanging off the shelf — sugared peanuts — instead of the more expensive cookies I originally wanted. So, in a way, this decision not only cost me no money, it helped me save money. Her resulting smile was the ray of light I sorely needed that dark and anxious day, and I had no need for a psychologist to tell me that my brain processed this experience as pleasurable.
In our age of mass over-consumption, many of us need the reminder that the very best things in life — whether they are decisions, experiences, or objects — are often free, costing us no money. It may not always be easy, but it is a good thing, as comedian Russell Peters has famously said, to do the right thing.