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Happiness in a Sad Economy

Make the most of what you've got

Is there a bright side to a year of financial loss? There can be if you make the commitment to define happiness by your own standards and not by those imposed by society. Additionally, try padding your emotional bank account to help offset some of the collateral damage that financial stress may cause.

Psychologists have drawn up a check list of basic human requirements that need to be "fed" in order to remain happy. Use it to help you balance out your physical, emotional and spiritual needs so you can up your life satisfaction quotient regardless of the bottom line.

Physical needs
The ground floor of satisfaction is to take care of our physical bodies. Recession can actually usher us into a healthier lifestyle by causing us to cook at home more, to stop smoking, or do errands on foot instead of wasting gas. Equally important is getting enough rest, especially if you're under financial stress. By making time for downtime throughout the day and especially in the evening your quality of sleep will be improved - and you'll be better able to handle life's financial curve balls.

Security
Take time to re-establish relationships with close friends and family - the security net of life. Perhaps you've been out of touch with a best friend or haven't sat down to write a thank you note that you've been meaning to send to your favorite aunt. Nourish the bonds that bring us together, start a book club with some friends you've been meaning to get together with - weave your social security blanket back together. You may be lacking financial security for the moment, but good conversation and plain old-fashioned fun are priceless.

Love and belonging
Giving and receiving love can take on many different forms - love relationships, a close-knit family or a favorite pet. Human beings are built for intimacy and connection. Celebrate each connection that you have - this doesn't have to cost a lot: plan a picnic, go for a hike with a friend, or schedule a telephone call. Giving and receiving love, one of life's finest pleasures is completely free and available to each of us.

Esteem and respect
It is easy to fall into the mentality that having money or being able to afford nice items equals self-worth. But what else makes you feel joyful and good about yourself? Not having everything go your way financially means that you must find creative ways to express yourself. Do you feel fulfilled when you're learning something new, maybe it's time to dust off that library card. Maybe you enjoy wearing trendy clothing - you could shop discount stores and find up-to-date pieces at a fraction of the cost. Don't despair if you have to ditch your gym membership, try getting in some exercise outdoors.

Purpose and meaning
Redefine your beliefs about purpose and meaning towards spirituality and away from materialism to help yourself through tough times. Some people find their spiritual center by reading a book, meditating, laughing with children or getting out in the beauty of nature. Take time to stay in the moment. By practicing mindfulness you will be able to suck the nectar out of each moment.

Self actualization
Giving to others does not take away from you, it only creates more to go around. Pledge time to volunteer with a charity - feed the homeless, practice random acts of kindness. It's good for the soul. Taking responsibility for yourself and helping others do the same allows you to contribute to society in a meaningful and valuable way.

Taking care of your needs and reconnecting with loved ones is the best way to find some security in times of stress. Stay focused on the positives in your life to keep attracting more. And remember, you can still feel satisfied even if you find your budget a little tight around the seams.
 

 

 
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