How Happiness Works

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That’s one way!  But there is something you can do that does not involve chocolate…

What if I told you that taking more time for meal and food preparation could actually boost your happiness?  That putting forth the effort to make your own food would bring you the  reward of joy?

Most people wrongly assume that tasks requiring effort are something to avoid (cooking included!)– and it’s only human nature.  We tend to take the easy way out when we can.  Hence, the major success of fast food restaurants and processed food businesses enticing you with everything from instant noodle mixes to, yes– even frozen peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.  Seriously, I think you could make one quicker than it takes to thaw one but I’ve never tried it.  Is there really a segment of the population who don’t want to open a couple of jars, wash a knife and have to deal with wrapping the twist tie back around the bread?  Why do all that when you can transfer the frozen sandwich from the freezer to the microwave?

You may unknowingly be making yourself more depressed with that move.  Make your own peanut butter and jelly sandwich and your brain brightens up from the resulting effort-driven reward.

There was a time when humans had to do so much more work to eat; we obviously did not have the modern inventions we rely on today.  The human tendency is to be lazy and so we have created time and labor-saving means that give us lots of food for little to zero work.  And for what?  So we have more time for Facebook and watching American Idle?  (yes pun intended.)  I hope this isn’t you, but if this is how you choose to spend your time, you may want to reevaluate your priorities and ask yourself if your way of life is making you content or overly stressed and depressed.

I recently came across this mini article I had ripped out from a magazine years ago and stuck in the back a book.  I reread it and remembered that it had struck a chord with me.  My point here is to relate it to food/eating, although it applies to basically any physical task necessary for survival :

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“Effort-based rewards” as a key part of happiness — I really like that and it really makes sense.  Growing your own food would be an excellent way to reap rewards for your efforts.  But if you can’t seem to find 20 minutes to cook your dinner then you most likely do not have the extra time to spend in a garden.  But what about small actions you can take when it comes to eating?  Do you think you could increase your happiness by attempting to be a little bit more self-reliant when it comes to your food?

The following is a list of examples of things you can try that may seem quite basic and simple to some,— however I kid you not when I tell you that there are people who consider putting the effort forth to peel an orange as just too much to be bothered with.  What if you took the time and put some extra energy into your food?   I’ve never conducted any scientific studies but I can tell you from observation  that what this article states really is true.

Get back into your kitchen for the sake of your happiness!  Here are some ideas to make you healthier with higher levels of persistence and boldness… and less of a fat, depressed trust fund rat:

  • peel a grapefruit to eat with breakfast
  • soak and cook your own beans
  • shred carrots to store in the fridge for salads
  • peel and slice a cucumber to store for salads or for dipping
  • make your own easy hummus
  • cook whole grains like brown rice and quinoa on the stove top or slow cooker
  • make your own peanut butter or almond butter in a food processor– simply blend with a bit of salt!
  • mix up a batch of homemade granola bars for the fridge to grab for breakfasts and quick snacks
  • slice and chop veggies (onions, peppers, mushrooms, asparagus, tomatoes, brussels sprouts, broccoli, etc) for the steamer or roasting in the oven
  • make your own salad dressings
  • pop your own popcorn kernels in an air popper
  • buy whole coffee beans, grind them yourself and make your coffee in a french press
  • bake sweet potatoes in your toaster oven
  • buy a whole pineapple or melon and slice it up yourself
  • make a batch of veggie burgers to store in your freezer
  • organize your pantry or spice cabinet
  • clean out your fridge, wiping down the shelves and discarding old food
  • go through your cookbooks looking for inspiration for future meals
  • my favorite– process dates, nuts and cocoa powder in the food processor for sweet healthy chocolatey treats!

All those food-related chores you might have considered unwanted work, now look at from a new perspective.  See them as taking one more step towards self-sufficiency which will boost your self-esteem and increase your life satisfaction.   We all can use some of that.  Minimize taking food shortcuts that shortchange your health.   Pay attention to how you feel spending time in the kitchen.  It can be a good way to reduce stress and take your mind off your problems for a while.  And the best part is you have something to show for your time and work!  Go through the fridge, freezer and cabinets.  Condense, toss out the old, figure out what needs to be eaten up and get to prepping it for your next meal or two.   Now smile!  You did something good for yourself and accomplished something, and this contributes to more happiness.

Have you noticed a connection between your happiness and the amount of effort you put towards making your own food?  I have!  What types of things do you make in your kitchen that make you happy?

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