Before you scratch your head and check your wallet, pause for a moment and think about the assets in your life. Not just the dollar bills in the safe, but the other valuables you have. The ones that actually matter.
Sure, money can buy a lot of things — but that’s it. They’re just things. Material possessions are great, but happiness doesn’t come from the items we own. It comes from a toddler’s giggle or your mom’s cooking. It shows up on a sunny day or seeing your best friend walk down the aisle.
When it comes down to it, the riches in our bank accounts don’t compare to the seven riches below. Here’s evidence that the best things in life don’t cost a single penny.
Admit it, there’s nothing like a warm embrace from someone you care about. Hugs can do a lot more than just make you feel good for a split moment. Research shows they may lower your blood pressure and boost your heart. Not bad for a small (and free!) gesture.
Friends and family.
You can’t put a price point on your loved ones. They’re worth everything without costing a single dime (except for maybe those few bucks you let them borrow for that smoothie when they were short). It’s a small price to pay when you consider the real value they add to your life. Studies suggest that friendships bring huge health perks, from increased longevity to improve mood.
According to one 2012 study, people who received a smile from strangers felt a greater sense of social connection. And who doesn’t want to feel like they belong? Not to mention those “knowing smiles” you share with your best friends after an inside joke. So go on and flash those pearly whites.
Happiness is a satisfying nap or a good night’s rest. Sometimes there’s just no better feeling than crawling into a comfortable bed and letting our minds drift away to dreamland. The body and the brain suffers dramatically without proper sleep. Better health for just a little more shuteye? That’s invaluable.
It’s hard not to feel your absolute best when you’re in the middle of a belly-aching fit of laughter. It also has incredible health benefits. Research suggests that laughing may boost our memory and can lower stress. Hey, the giggles look good on you (and they probably cost less than that shirt).
Let’s be honest, who hasn’t replayed some of their best times in their head? (Bonus points if you let it play in a montage like a movie.) Nostalgia is one of our mind’s greatest indulgences — and it’s totally OK to embrace it. Think back on your perfect prom or your wonderful wedding day. Research shows we spend 47 percent of our waking hours daydreaming, so why not put it to good use?
The Beatles were most certainly onto something when they crooned in their 1960s hit, “All You Need Is Love.” Feeling accepted is crucial to our emotional wellness. We’re happier, our immune system is stronger and even our heart health is improved when we’re around the people we love.
So, go hug your best friend, kiss your significant other, create good memories with your family and make a stranger feel loved with a simple smile (and then go to sleep). All without draining your pocketbook.