Not Happy? These 4 Alternative Lifestyles Can Help

Not Happy? These 4 Alternative Lifestyles Can Help

There are lifestyles to be had beyond the usual confines of westernization that can help us become happier.

Americans are not happy. A recent international study on happiness showed the United States is actually becoming less happy as time goes on. This is despite the fact that we're richer as a country than ever before. But sometimes money really doesn't buy happiness, at least not when it's being spent unwisely or isn't distributed equally. Our western lifestyle is characterized by excess -- of food, of material objects, of options, of working hours, of everything. However, there are lifestyles to be had beyond the usual confines of westernization that can help us become happier. Here are my favorite four:

1. Minimalism

Minimalism is hard to wrap your head around if you've been raised the American way. Basically, you take every material object in your possession and get rid of everything you don't absolutely need. Things like knick knacks, bookshelves, cell phones, desks, extra shoes, clothes, extra forks and knives (do you really need a 20-piece set when you live with one other person?), your second couch in the living room, your TV, everything.

There are so many things we are told that we need when we really don't. We work long hours at jobs we probably don't enjoy just to afford all these things. Look in your purse. How much money worth of makeup is in there? Glance around your bedroom. What decorations hang on the walls? Yeah those things are nice, but they're unnecessary and may not be a fair trade for the amount of time you spend working to get them.


Many minimalists can pack up and travel any time because they can fit all of their belongings in one suitcase. Where would you go if you didn't have to worry about renting a moving truck or packing for days? Where would you live if you didn't have to worry about losing stuff or leaving anything behind? Personally, traveling makes me happier than stuff.

Minimalists have things that are of quality. No shitty cell phone will do, because they use it for communication, Netflix, doing work off of, internet, etc. and they don't have a TV or a laptop to back it up if it breaks. We often trade quantity for quality without realizing it. Minimalists don't. They can save money by not wasting it on excess and spend more on what's actually important to them.

Minimalists can take more time off work. They don't need a giant house (remember tiny houses?) or a two car garage, so their rent bill is lower. They don't need to buy as much to have a reason to work. Less time at work means more time spent on hobbies, developing skills, or just having fun.

What could you sell right now to start yourself off?

2. Straight edge

Unhappy people generally use something to cope with their unhappiness, or need a little help relaxing. Unhappy people might also be unhappy because they're unhealthy. Straight edge combats this by cutting out the consumption of any mind-altering substances. Drugs, cigarettes, alcohol, and sometimes even coffee, sex, and addicting foods are all off-limits. It brings a whole new meaning to "clearing your head."

While straight edge has started to become associated with gangs or violent crews (there's even a gangland episode now), that's not what it's about or where it came from. It's originally a rejection of the prevalence of hard drugs in the 1980's punk scene. But you don't actually need to be any shade of punk to stop drinking, popping, shooting, or smoking.


Alcohol rots your liver, cigarettes your lungs, and pills your stomach. I'm pretty sure we all remember that drugs are bad (mmkay?). Ditch them and say hello to a little healthier.

You'll have more control over yourself when you need to make any type of choice, big or small, because you won't be influenced by anything other than your options. You'll have more control over the situation when you're at a party and your drunk angry friend tries to fight everyone in the bar. It's useful to have someone level-headed in the room. Plus you'll be a guaranteed DD, so everybody will get home safe and you never have to depend on someone else to drive you.

Your wallet will thank you. The average cigarette smoker spends over $2,000 a year. Weed is like $60 a quarter. And for booze, the sky is the limit with price.

3. Veganism

Veganism is becoming more popular as people are realizing that bad food comes with bad consequences for our health, our environment, and our relationship with mother nature. Veganism is the practice of consuming (eating, buying, using, supporting) only things that don't harm animals. No meat, no dairy, no beauty products that test on animals, no fur clothing and the like.


You can feel good about making a difference in the world. Although one person makes a relatively small difference, over a lifetime that turns out to be big. And as a whole movement of people doing it, it becomes huge. I've realized that we don't vote with our ballots, we vote with our money. If you don't support factory farming, don't buy the products it produces. It's something you can do every day to influence something you care about.

A plant-based diet is the healthiest thing out there and it's the queen of preventative medicine. Yes, you can get protein from things that aren't meat. Plus, health comes hand-in-hand with beauty and a long life. Keep the doctor away and your skin glowing at the same time.

4. Living off the grid

"Off the grid" generally refers to the electrical grid of cities, and more broadly to the square mile planning of cities that you don't find in rural areas. It's a rejection of accepting public utilities and providing them for yourself instead. Trade in DTE bills for solar panels and a propane system; trade in city plumbing for a septic tank and a well. Becoming self-sufficient is liberating and works just as well as city services.


Although it's expensive to set up, in the long run you'll save boat loads of money on bills. It's the same mentality of "why would I pay rent for the rest of my life when I could buy and own a house one day?" Why pay the city for a service forever when you could do it yourself? An investment goes a long way here.

When there's a power outage, guess what you still have? When cities like Flint (and others) waste taxpayer money and poison the water, guess what you don't have to deal with?

Living off the grid inspires you to be autonomous in other aspects of life, too. Once you realize what you can do on your own, you do more. Like growing your own food and building your own projects (furniture, sheds, etc.) instead of relying on someone else.

Do these sound crazy? Well so does continuing in a lifestyle that doesn't make you happy.

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If You've Ever Been Called Overly-Emotional Or Too Sensitive, This Is For You

Despite what they have told you, it's a gift.

Emotional: a word used often nowadays to insult someone for their sensitivity towards a multitude of things.

If you cry happy tears, you're emotional. If you express (even if it's in a healthy way) that something is bothering you, you're sensitive. If your hormones are in a funk and you just happen to be sad one day, you're emotional AND sensitive.

Let me tell you something that goes against everything people have probably ever told you. Being emotional and being sensitive are very, very good things. It's a gift. Your ability to empathize, sympathize, and sensitize yourself to your own situation and to others' situations is a true gift that many people don't possess, therefore many people do not understand.

Never let someone's negativity toward this gift of yours get you down. We are all guilty of bashing something that is unfamiliar to us: something that is different. But take pride in knowing God granted this special gift to you because He believes you will use it to make a difference someday, somehow.

This gift of yours was meant to be utilized. It would not be a part of you if you were not meant to use it. Because of this gift, you will change someone's life someday. You might be the only person that takes a little extra time to listen to someone's struggle when the rest of the world turns their backs.

In a world where a six-figure income is a significant determinant in the career someone pursues, you might be one of the few who decides to donate your time for no income at all. You might be the first friend someone thinks to call when they get good news, simply because they know you will be happy for them. You might be an incredible mother who takes too much time to nurture and raise beautiful children who will one day change the world.

To feel everything with every single part of your being is a truly wonderful thing. You love harder. You smile bigger. You feel more. What a beautiful thing! Could you imagine being the opposite of these things? Insensitive and emotionless?? Both are unhealthy, both aren't nearly as satisfying, and neither will get you anywhere worth going in life.

Imagine how much richer your life is because you love other's so hard. It might mean more heartache, but the reward is always worth the risk. Imagine how much richer your life is because you are overly appreciative of the beauty a simple sunset brings. Imagine how much richer your life is because you can be moved to tears by the lessons of someone else's story.

Embrace every part of who you are and be just that 100%. There will be people who criticize you for the size of your heart. Feel sorry for them. There are people who are dishonest. There are people who are manipulative. There are people who are downright malicious. And the one thing people say to put you down is "you feel too much." Hmm...

Sounds like more of a compliment to me. Just sayin'.

Cover Image Credit: We Heart It

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20 Things I'd Do If The Concept Of Time Was Abolished

If only our lives weren't limited by time.


Recently, news outlets have been reporting on how the people of Sommarøy, a Norwegian island located north of the arctic circle, would like to remove the concept of time. This is largely in part due to the fact that the sun does not set during much of the summer nor does it rise during the winter. The inhabitants of Sommarøy do not have rigidly separated days and nights like the rest of the world and can be found doing normal daytime activities at 2 am in the summers.

They also would like to take clocks out of their society. Although this lifestyle might seem impractical to the rest of us, I couldn't help but wonder what it would be like to live in a world where time is irrelevant, in regards to the concept AND the physical effects of its passing. This newfound information gave rise to ideas of things (some simple, some whimsical) I'd do if the concept of time did not exist and we had as much time to do the things we wanted.

1. Live on a ship at sea.

2. Watch a flower grow from a seed to its death.

3. Apply as much makeup as desired without being late.

4. Retake my favorite college courses and participate as fully as I possibly can, including the completion of every single reading and film.

5. Take a non-stop trip through every country in the world.

6. Learn to play and fully master every single musical instrument in existence.

7. Watch a full rotation of Earth around the sun from space.

8. Live by myself in a cabin at the edge of the woods a la Thoreau.

9. Reread every single book that shaped my childhood.

10. Have a brief conversation with every old friend.

11. Re-drink that first sip of the perfect cup of coffee.

12. Observe how the tides change with the lunar cycle.

13. Learn as many languages as possible.

14. Sit at the beach and listen to music for days.

15. Train for an Olympic event.

16. Write a detailed, thorough analysis of every track in my favorite movie soundtracks.

17. Take a photo of every interesting place I visit and every little nook I find peace in and make a physical photo album.

18. Cook food without burning it.

19. Watch a star's life cycle from birth to death.

20. Replay the feeling of coming home.


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