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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Signs You're An INFJ, The World's Rarest Personality Type

INFJ, from the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator instrument, is believed to be the rarest personality type, and to make up less than 2% of the population. Oh, and I am one.

INFJ, referring to one of the 16 Myers-Briggs personality types, has become a bit of a buzzword in the media over the past several years. The reason behind it: INFJ is considered to be the rarest personality type, making up less than 2% of the world's entire population. They are labeled as "The Advocate," and have been described as "mysterious," "intuitive," and "emotionally intelligent," yet the type as a whole is often misunderstood.

Oh, and I am one. Perhaps you are, as well.

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test, created in the 1940's by mother and daughter, Isabel Myers and Katharine Briggs, originally stems from the typological theories of Carl Jung, a prominent psychoanalyst. The test assesses an individual in 4 categories: Extroversion vs. Introversion, Sensing vs. Intuition, Thinking vs. Feeling, and Judging vs. Perceiving, and using these criteria, determines which category one’s personality most tilts toward. INFJs would be those individuals whose personalities favor the sides of Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling, and Judging.

INFJs can be difficult to spot due to the fact that they are not prevalent in society and tend to be reserved individuals. However, INFJs make fiercely loyal friends, empathetic and organized workers, and exceptional leaders for causes they deem worthy and for the greater good of humanity.

INFJs often report feeling lonely and "different," and for good reason. INFJs are low in numbers so they tend to have trouble finding others who see the world in the same realm as they do. Most people who are this type have admitted feeling different from their peers since they were a very young child.

INFJs take an all-or-nothing approach to life. INFJs, a curious mix of emotional and logical, do not like to waste their time on anything inauthentic. Although they may dabble with playing the field, INFJs are truly about quality over quantity and will become disinterested in anyone or anything they perceive as being fraudulent, scheming or wishy-washy.

INFJs exude warmness, and others immediately feel comfortable in their presence. It is not uncommon for a stranger to sit down next to an INFJ and within minutes, disclose their most personal secrets, fears and dreams. In fact, this happens frequently to INFJs with seemingly no rhyme or reason. This personality type has a knack for making others immediately feel at ease, and they are great listeners and trusted confidants who speak in human terms and meet others where they are.

INFJs are somewhat empathic, and they tend to "just know" things. One of my favorite one-liners from Game of Thrones is by the character, Tyrion Lannister, "I drink and I know things," and this can often be said of an INFJ, with maybe fewer libations. INFJs have a highly-accurate sense of intuition that they have been sharpening for all of their lives. Without understanding exactly why or how, an INFJ will see, within minutes of meeting an individual, their true character. As a result, they tend to be more forgiving of their friends who exhibit unruly behavior because they can identify the true root of the behavior, such as insecurities or past trauma.

INFJs ultimately seek genuine truth and meaning. This personality type does not care one iota about grandiose tales or extravagant gestures if there is not a true and genuine motive behind them. An INFJ’s calling in life is to seek insight and understanding, and as they develop, they often can spot a lie or half-truth in a moment's notice. If they believe an individual to be a phony or a manipulator, they will have no trouble writing them off. Likewise, this type often enjoys traveling, adventures and experiences that heighten their understanding of the intricacies of life and promote self-reflection.

INFJs are true introverts, yet people not very close to them believe them to be extroverts. This happens because INFJs can be social chameleons and have an innate ability to blend in in any social setting. The INFJ can be the life of the party for a night or two, showcasing their inviting nature and vivaciousness. However, this is never prolonged because, in introverted-fashion, they lose energy from others. Those close to an INFJ know that this type prefers bars over clubs and barbecues over balls, and can give a speech to thousands of people but cringes at the idea of mingling with the crowd afterward. Eventually, this type will need to retreat home for some quiet time to "recharge their batteries," or they will become very on-edge and exhausted.

INFJs have intense, unwavering convictions, sometimes to a fault. An INFJ has certain ideas about the world and a need to foster change in society. These are deep-seated and intense beliefs that they will never abandon. If a career, relationship, or law does not align with their moral compass, an INFJ will have no qualms about ignoring it or leaving it in the dust.

INFJs tend to keep a small circle of friends and prefer to work alone. Although an INFJ may have hundreds of acquaintances, if they call you a "friend," you can be sure that they mean it for life. This type can count their close friends on a set of fingers and they will be loyal and devoted to these prized individuals no matter how much time passes between their interactions. An INFJ can be a great team player but the idea of group projects and collaboration meetings naturally make them sink down in their seat. These are people who enjoy working from home or in a quaint office with a handful of like-minded coworkers.

INFJs cannot stand small talk. This trait aligns with the need to pursue truth and all things bona fide. To an INFJ, small talk not only takes energy, but has little purpose as it is merely speaking to fill silence without revealing any deeper layers of the individuals involved. Do not talk to an INFJ about the weather unless you want to see a glazed-over look. Instead, tell them about the causes you are promoting, the wish-list of your soul, or the way you smile every time you smell lavender because it reminds you of your great grandmother.

INFJs are typically high-achievers and people-pleasers. If you want a task done right the first time, hand it over to an INFJ. They will plan every detail down to the minute and will always deliver a glowing finished product. However, when delivering criticism to this type, do it gently, as they take every word to heart and are always striving for perfection. This type is a unique blend of a dreamer and a doer, but they can easily fall prey to extreme bouts of anxiety or depression centered on feelings of inadequacy or failure.

INFJs are gifted in language and are often creative writers. In accordance with their introverted nature, INFJs prefer to spend time alone and develop enriched inner-lives with many hobbies and skills. This type has trouble conveying their emotions verbally, so they turn to pen and paper. This, combined with their creative nature, leaves no surprise that the majority of successful writers are, in fact, INFJs.

INFJs make decisions based off of emotion and insight. An INFJ judges the world around them and the people in it based off of how they make them feel. This type does not care about track records and performance history, instead they look for the heart of the matter and how a person or company treats them personally. This type will trust their "gut feeling" about a situation and go with that, which has almost always proven to be accurate.

INFJs like to reflect on deep thoughts about their purpose and the world around them. This type is a thinker. INFJs are old-souls who spend a lot of time in their own minds reflecting on their purpose and the meaning behind everything that happens to them. They are often readers, researchers and intellectuals who truly enjoy learning. Although this is a noble endeavor, it is essential that the INFJ has friends, typically of the extroverted type, who can help them to be less serious and relax every now and then.

INFJs are visionaries who always see the big picture. This type tends to always operate about ten steps ahead. They are skilled planners and focus their sights on the end goal and what is needed to propel them there. However, while INFJs are off in dreamland about their futures, they can sometimes forget to be present in the world that is happening now. As a result, they do well with other more grounded types who can remind them to live in the moment.

INFJs are "fixers," and they gravitate towards people who need help. This type loves a good fixer-upper and with their ability to see the "good bones" of another person, their true motives and intentions, and to readily provide comfort and compassion, they fall victim to the Broken Wing Theory, or the idea that they can rescue others who have a "broken wing," or who have been dealt a poor hand. This can be rewarding for the hopeful INFJ but also frustrating and depleting when boundaries are overstepped.

INFJs seek lifelong, true-blue relationships. This type usually finds themselves with intuitive extroverts, such as the ENTPs, ENFPs, and ENFJs. These types connect with the INFJ on the deeper plane of intuition, yet also will get the INFJ out of their own heads and out on the town on a Saturday night.

Think you might be an INFJ? Find out which type you are here:

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It's 2019, And I Still Use A Weekly Planner

There is something about physically writing things down for that makes it easier to remember dates and deadlines.


Even with all the technology that is available to us nowadays, I still use an old-fashioned planner. I keep it in my backpack and you will see me pull it out if I need to add events for that week. Usually I will review the syllabus for my classes at the start of each semester and put down the important test dates or dates for other assignments. By doing this, I get a visual outline of what each will look like and what weeks will be extra heavy with school and other clubs that I am involved in on campus. Even though having this is a nice tool to help plan ahead and budget my time, it is by no means a failsafe. Sometimes I get this feeling that I forgot to do something that day but can't think of what it is. When this happens, I can refer back to my planner and look to see if I missed anything. The key point is to not forget to write things down, otherwise, all will be lost.

With today's technology, iPhones can do pretty much anything, I am aware that there is google calendar which can be synced up with a MacBook as well. This doesn't work for me because it takes too long to enter the events in my phone and I have not grown used to it. Another point is that I don't have a MacBook so it would only be accessible from my phone. I have found that it is just quicker to jot an event down by hand in my planner. For some people this might seem like a hassle having to pull out their planner when wanting to write down something they need to accomplish for that day. Since people spend a lot of time being on their laptops or phones it would be more convenient for them, being that they know how to work the app.

Either way, keeping a daily schedule or planner has many benefits. As mentioned before, it can help reduce the possibility of forgetting important due dates for exams or projects and other deadlines. Writing things down can also help reduce stress. There are times where there is too much on our plate to handle at once, we might have the feeling that everything needs to get done, which can be overwhelming. When I put things down on paper, it doesn't seem as bad and I can take care of what needs to be done at the moment and then work from there. I feel great after checking off a couple things from my to-do list because I can see that progress is being made.

Another use is to build in some time to relax or just time for yourself into your daily or weekly schedule, this can prevent the feeling of being burned out. Building in free time should have limits, especially for people who may spend too much time watching Netflix or Television. I would know because there are times where it can feel like hours go by and I haven't accomplished anything productive.

I highly recommend anyone who is in college to keep a planner, otherwise the stress can be too much to handle.

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