These simple activities will help you live a life with intention (and squander less of your money).
It really doesn’t take much to be happy, but that’s something we tend to forget when we live in a society that increasingly values appearance over substance.
If you let yourself get too caught up in this, it could result in an increasing sense of dissatisfaction, which is terrible for your emotional health – not to mention your finances.
So let’s go back to the basics and revisit the tried and tested ways how we can become happy and fulfilled individuals, while enjoying deeper pockets.
Get off Your Sofa and Step Out
These days, it’s easier than ever to live your whole life online. You can order a meal to be delivered, look for new sneakers, restock your groceries and even watch the latest movies - all without getting off your lounge chair.
Shopping for anything and everything is so easy and addictive that you end up spending more time indoors and online – and inevitably spending money on things that really aren’t a necessity.
Hands up if you’ve ever added something you don’t really need to your cart, just so you qualify for free shipping.
Put the other hand up if you’re constantly spammed by online retailers touting sales and promo codes, and you feel the pressure to head over to their website to look around in case you miss a good deal. Yes, FOMO.
Stop the mindless online shopping and just go outside already! Just taking a walk in the park or by the seaside early in the morning or before dusk is incredibly calming for the mind and will do wonders for your psyche.
Despite being highly urbanised, Singapore has lovely green pockets, such as the Southern Ridges, Bay East, Singapore Botanic Gardens Learning Forest, Coney Island, and the list goes on.
We’re not known as a City in a Garden for nothing, so it's a waste not to enjoy the excellent urban planning.
Satisfy the Stomach – and Soul – by Cooking
Cooking can be an incredibly rewarding affair, especially when you put together a dish from scratch.
Most people don’t have time to cook on weekdays, which is why the weekend is the perfect time to hone those culinary techniques.
In a fast-paced world where convenience trumps craft, there’s something grounded and comforting about the labour of love that is making your own food. There’s also that great sense of achievement when you feed your loved ones and they respond with obvious enjoyment and delight.
Another benefit: You know exactly what you’re putting into your body. Since you bought the ingredients yourself, you can be sure you’re only getting the best - sans nasty preservatives, filler flavours or artificial colouring that are rampant when you eat out. When you start eating better, you'll start feeling better too.
And you'll save money when you cook. Take for example, avocado toast. It’s not difficult to make, and you can have it for a third of the price you pay outside. (For the record, supermarkets sell avocados at about S$6 for three fruits, so you do the math).
Read a Book and Open Your Mind
In between catching up on the latest gossip via Facebook and Instagramming every moment of life, books have become an afterthought for many. And yet, the continued popularity of books in the digital age (close to 32 million books were borrowed from our libraries in 2016) prove that books are far from obsolete.
That feeling of losing yourself in a fictional world for hours on end has no equivalent. Reading opens your mind to new possibilities, fills the heart with rich emotions, and enriches your vocabulary – the latter in particular is something that you’ll never get from acronym-heavy social media.
If you enjoy non-fiction work, it can broaden the scope of your knowledge and cultivate a curious mind, which means you come out more ruminative and erudite than the average person (see, we weren't kidding about the vocabulary).
It’s also a thoroughly money-saving activity, because what else do you need except a comfy surface to sit on and a good book? You can save even more money if you get your books from the library, and Singapore has, hands down, some of the best libraries in the region.
Fill Your Heart
The world we live in now can seem very artificial, where so many people scramble to portray the illusion of an exciting life via “memorable” moments that are, in reality, strategically staged and further enhanced with photo filters.
You only need your smartphone to start poking around other people’s apparently fabulous lives, and this translates into pressure to keep up with everyone else.
When you find yourself barely able to breathe trying to catch up with the Joneses – and it’s also burning a hole in your pocket as you attempt to live an exciting life of beautiful clothes, bar hopping and extensive travel – it’s time to stop and take stock of what void in your own life you’re trying to fill.
In many ways, good emotional health comes from having a full heart. There are myriad ways to achieve this, from committing yourself to doing things that have meaning to you, to volunteering your time for a worthy cause, to learning to let go of petty emotions.
In fact, for a start, put away your mobile device whenever you’re with company, and start reconnecting in an honest way with the people who truly matter.
There is truth in that common saying that the best things in life are free – you just have to define what these wonderful things are.
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By Alexa Fang
Alexa is a pop-culture vulture. She lives to read, write and travel, and decided long ago that life is stranger than fiction. When she's having croissant, she thinks in French. "31 Rue Cambon" is her favourite address, and she believes that money one enjoyed spending is never money wasted.