It's easy to feel like life is a treadmill.
We're constantly working to make a living, running forward full speed. Sometimes, regardless of how hard we work, there just isn't enough money to go around. It's hard, and it's frustrating, and it can be completely consuming. When you work hard, you want to enjoy life, but access to so much is tied to being able to afford it.
Here's one guy who's found that his bank account didn't have to determine his happiness. His memories and experiences mattered more.
Zeke, a World War II pilot, hasn't had the easiest life, but you can't tell by listening to him. He's filled with a love for the small moments that changed his world and made it better. As he puts it, "I'd rather be rich in life than rich in money."
Now, there's no denying that money is critical to survival.
It's a little easier to take a step back and have this perspective when every single day isn't a fight just to keep a roof over your head. But what Zeke discovered is that once he managed to get the necessities covered, his happiness didn't come from acquiring more things.
There are ways to find moments of pleasure, regardless of what's in your bank account.
Following Zeke's lead, here are a few tips on how we can all find moments of pleasure in the midst of life's chaos, regardless of what's in our wallet.
1. Relationships matter. So much.
Relationships take a lot of work, but they’re worth it. And I'm not just talking about romantic relationships — although apparently committing to a life partner can add three years to life expectancy. Think about shows like "Friends." Could Rachel have dealt with career challenges and the back and forth of her relationship with Ross without her friends in her corner? Maybe, but it would have been a lot harder.
The people in our lives shape our view of the world and the ways in which we experience it. Healthy relationships make us healthier.
Arthur Aron, Ph.D., psychology professor and director of the Interpersonal Relationships Laboratory at New York’s Stony Brook University, told The Nation’s Health that “relationships are — not surprisingly — enormously important for health, and there are lots of studies on the biological processes that account for the link between relationships and health.”
So make friends. Dive into love. And nurture those relationships. Because they just may help you to live longer and happier.
2. Go outdoors and smell the fresh air!
Environmental psychologist Judith Heerwagon told The Huffington Post, “just looking at a garden or trees or going for a walk, even if it’s in your own neighborhood, reduces stress. ... There’s something about being in a natural setting that shows clear evidence of stress reduction, including physiological evidence — like lower heart rate.”
Best of all? Outdoor activities usually don’t cost a dime. So take a walk, look around you, and let nature work its magic.
3. Enjoying art — for free? Yes, please.
There are some cities that have free events down to a science. In other areas, finding a free show takes a little bit more effort, but they’re out there!
Regardless of whether you’re being treated to a world-class performance of Shakespeare or a band of kindergarteners practicing their choir tunes, getting out of the house helps you to form memories, meet new people, and do something. Best-case scenario, you see an amazing show that stirs you in some way. Worst-case scenario, you have a story to tell. Either way, you just may have some fun mixing things up.
4. Remember, there's always a new day.
As Victor Hugo wrote in "Les Miserables," "even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise." There’s no science there, just the wise words of a revered author. We’ll take it. Life is an obstacle course, but it’s good to remember that there’s always another day, another chance to wake up and make your day and your life what you want it to be.
Each day won’t be the best day ever, but it also won’t be the worst ever. It’s essentially the Kaizen theory: If we make continual small improvements, in time we’ll see big change.
Money will always be a stressor; we can't escape it. But if you keep working toward the life you want to live, hopefully after a few years you’ll look back and see that you're living it.