What have you done personally to make yourself happier that didn’t cost a thing?

 In Being A Woman, Feminine Power Blog, Happiness, Making Changes, Money, Self Exploration, Success

Being Wise… taking in the wisdom across generations
by Christine, age 38


I recently learned that I am an instant gratification junkie. I want what I want when I want it, which is usually right now! I live by the motto, enjoy the day today, fully, and worry about it tomorrow, if even then. And my fingers love to touch, feel and buy things that glimmer, bounce and promise me at the very least a quick hit of happy. I think I would be mortified by this admission if not for the fact that I know that I am not alone in my instant gratification junkie status. I live in a country of IGJs (did I just create a new self-help group… IGJs Anonymous?)Junkie I may be, I am also a strong willed woman who is committed to always evolving into the best, most ‘evolved’ Christine. So when faced with the April Dare on Girltalk… taking it deeper this month, www.letsgirltalk.com, a.k.a.the $25/7 Happiness Challenge – i.e., you can only spend $25 or less for an entire week – I jumped in with both feet! Okay, well maybe I dipped my toes in the water first!. I admit, I was a little freaked out about only having $25 for the entire week.

After coming out of the Dare alive, although I am by no means totally recovered after one week of having to tame my instant gratification junkie, I did learn a bit about what I can do to make me happy without spending a dime:

– Look at, touch, even play with the shiny happy objects I see in the store. Appreciate them. And then put them back down. It’s like getting the high without having to purchase.

– Invent ways to use what is already in my fridge and cabinets and make it a challenge to create something that tastes good out of ingredients you never thought could go together. And then delight in your inventiveness.

– Instead of meeting people for lunch or at a coffee shop, use the world around to connect, talk and get some exercise. I met a new friend and colleague and we went for a hike. Another new peer I had virtual coffee with and made my own tea – barista that I am!

– Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, being grateful for everything that I have. I mean literally stopping in my tracks to look around at everything I have that I love – my dog, my house, my man, my friends, my brown blankie, my garden, my everything. I have so so much and it’s so easy to focus on everything I haven’t yet attained (did I mention that I am also a recovering achievement junkie?) Stopping everyday to get into my heart, to stop and see the world around me and to feel, really feel, how grateful I am — well that is priceless!
Janet, age 24, says:

janetbrace.jpgI don’t think personal happiness can be bought. I believe it is found in the simple things in life. One of my favorite things to do is go out and run/walk the Chicago lakefront. I find a sense of serenity and inner peace looking at the water. I love putting on my running shoes and taking in the fresh air on a crisp morning and clearing my mind with my iPod. I love hitting the lake after work during the summer and watching the lake change colors. The best part is that it doesn’t cost a thing and I get a little more exercise in my day!

I find happiness is a bubble bath after a long day of work or weekend activities. Nothing beats great smelling bubble bath and candles, it gives me time to connect with me and my feelings. I like the water because it has the ability to melt away stresses from the day and let me relax. When I go to take a bath, the Blackberry doesn’t come in the bathroom, it is truly me time.

I believe in taking a few minutes out of my day to mediate, pray, or practice yoga. It allows me time to build a stronger connection with me on the inside. Finding time for this can be tough, and I don’t do it every day, but at least a couple times a week. You can mediate or pray just about anywhere, in the car, in bed, sitting outside, or in the bedroom before bed.

Another activity that doesn’t cost a thing is calling a friend or family member and talking. It gives me time to reconnect with people in my life. I can call them from just about anywhere with cell phones these days. Taking 15 minutes to connect with someone you haven’t talked to in a long time, can be healing for the soul.

Happiness can be found in many activities, which don’t cost a thing. I believe finding things, which don’t cost a thing make me explore the possibilities of the world around me. If you take a step back and really check how you spend, you might realize that happiness doesn’t cost a dime. It is in the moments where you can take a few minutes and connect with you!

Jenn, age 36jen_g.jpg, says:

I tend to feel my happiest when I feel free, am enjoying the company of someone close to me, and letting the flow of the moment dictate our journey. I went for a bike ride with a friend around Coronado Island (San Diego) one afternoon recently. Although unspoken, we approached it like an adventure with no set agenda. Our first stop was the beach where we pulled out a beach volleyball to practice hitting and bumping. Then through a shift in imagination, the volleyball morphed into a soccer ball, and we took turns playing goalie between two volleyball net posts. Eventually the game became who could kick the ball closest to our backpacks (I won!). We snacked on some fruit and then hopped back on our bikes to ride to the other end of the island to overlook the harbor and downtown skyline. We posed for funny photos with our camera. I did cartwheels in the grass. We made up stories about the tourists around us. It was an amazing afternoon of laughter and adventure and connection – and it was so easy.

Something else that is easy and free but brings me great pleasure is reading a book that is both intellectually challenging (whether professionally or personally) and entertaining. A friend recently let me borrow the book “The Female Brain,” about gender/sexual hormonal and neuroscience research. Every chance I get to read to a few pages just lights me up. The other day I was able to settle in for a bit of reading, with a mug of blueberry green tea, curled up on my shag rug in a shaft of sunlight, learning and growing. Later that evening, while leading a free group discussion about sexual empowerment, I was integrating and sharing my new knowledge to the benefit of others. I get such a buzz off of being fascinated with new information that is relevant to my passion and work, being able to integrate it into what I already know, and then applying it to guide myself and others through our sexual and intimacy journeys. I think I’m kind of a dork that way, but it makes me so happy and excited!


Debba, age forty-something, says:
What have you done to be happier that has not cost a dime.

James Taylor sings: “The secret of life is enjoying the passage of time.”

It’s been exactly a year since I quit corporate America to follow my dream and build my business (www.girlfriendology.com). With a freelance writer as a husband, that change meant no more paychecks or provided insurance. To be honest, it’s been a tough year but I am proud to say we’re just as happy as we were before – and maybe a bit more appreciative. All in all, we’ve enjoyed the passage of time and it’s been great.

These are just a few things that have changed in the past year with a positive impact on my overall happiness:

  • We rarely eat out. Fortunately my husband is a great cook and loves making all the meals. (Yes, I’m a dang lucky girl.) While I miss the social aspect of going to a restaurant, I believe I make healthier choices and save money – and we often have great conversations in our own dining room.
  • I don’t shop. Admittedly I miss it, I do. But, not that much. It simplifies my life. I don’t have as much ‘stuff’ to clean, put away, or manage.  And, the cheap jacket and leggings (my sole clothing purchases in the past 12 months) have proven to me that I take for granted all my belongings.
  • I spend time with my friends. My girlfriends and I walk and talk together. We meet for coffee every Friday (at a place where we get free coffee!). Instead of going out to lunch, my girlfriend Becky and I meet with a bag lunch or go to a park. My girlfriend Judi and I walk laps and talk through our business challenges.
  • The gifts I give are either hand-made or are presents of time together. I don’t need more ‘stuff’ and neither do my friends, so we spend time together or I share a necklace or card that I made.

Life’s about the simple things – love, friends, family, health, time together. It’s about passing time together. That makes me happy

Shelley, age 5shelley_a.jpg0-something, says:

Perhaps the subtitle for this blog could be: Where do you find your joy? This is a very timely blog for me. This past year I’ve really been t
aking a look at what brings me joy and reconnecting with those people, places or things that have given me joy in the past.

To preface, I left my husband of almost 30 years in 2007, and our divorce was finalized in 2008. So this past year has been about reinventing me. I did all the outer things one would do at a time like this. Moved, bought new furniture and necessities, severed outdated friendships, cultivated new ones, supported my teenage daughter in working through her emotions about this lifestyle change, and came to peace with my decision. All of that was necessary and helpful, but when all was said and done, I felt something was missing.

I recently realized that one of the reasons I left a very long, and generally very happy marriage, was I had lost my joy. It doesn’t cost a dime to find that joy again. Happiness can mean different things to different people. For me, I find that directing my attention on what is working in my life now, instead of looking at what didn’t work then (ie, a failed marriage), brings the delight and thrill of living into reality. I am charmed by the smile on my cat’s face. What? You don’t think cats smile? I am sure they do! I enjoy the sound of peals of laughter from my daughter and her friends as they play a silly card game in the other room. My heart is filled with bliss when I play my favorite music on my iPod as I take my morning walk. If I ever feel myself slipping back into feeling sorry for myself, I call a friend. Being interested in what is happening in another person’s life is very uplifting for me. This doesn’t mean I have to do anything. I don’t have to fix this person or take on whatever their issues are, but to have a friend means you have to be a friend. Friendship is a great source of joy for me. Finally, I am grateful. Living a life of gratitude brings me much happiness. Give it a try.


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Showing 4 comments
  • Gina Covello

    I lived in Costa Rica for 2.5 years, serving in Peace Corps. I developed some marvelous friendships and even “adopted” a family and have a spiritual mom who loves me and nurtures me. She often calls me to ask when I am coming to visit. Because of finances, I haven’t been able to afford to go. Then I got a call from a friend who told me I needed to bring my Spanish instruction business to Costa Rica because there are alot of Americans living there who don’t know Spanish. I got to thinking that I could even take a group with me for an immersion program and they could live with all the families I know and love! I am now so excited about this venture, I can hardly stand it. My point is, even if you don’t have money, if you get creative, you may be able to find a way to make something happen. I now have a trip that will be tax deductible and I’ll actually be earning money to teach Spanish and travel the local countryside with my adult students! Pure Joy or as the Ticos say: Pura Vida!

  • Aurora Medina

    I gave up on the word happiness and focus on contentment. For me is an overall state of joy, flowing as much as possible with the things life brings me. I don’t want to be happy one day and unhappy the next one. My goal is contentment a steady sense of joy.

  • Christine Arylo

    Aurora – I am with you! Joy is a word that I too have started to use, thinking of it this way – happiness is an emotion that comes and goes, but Joy, that is something that lives inside you no matter what the external reality … and it’s something that i can find again and again when that external reality is making me unhappy to change the frown to a smile, even when life is difficult.

  • Christine Arylo

    Gina – I love what you say about creativity – money doesnt have to come in the form of someone paying us cash for something and until we have that cash, can we do what we want. If we put out there what it is we really want to happen in our lives — not the money piece — and we release it with convinction, intention and heart, it will come back to us – maybe not like we thought or in the same timing we wanted, but it does come back around. We just have to listen – way to go in listening and receiving – two Feminine Super Powers for sure!!

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