There is a lot of be thankful for in today’s society. We can run to the store for effective cold medicine. Television allows us to see what’s going on in the world. Telephones help us keep in touch with loved ones across the world.
But despite our advances in health and technology, people in past generations were not only healthier but happier. Our great-great grandparents experienced less stress, yet they worked harder. They got sick less often and recovered more quickly. (Sure, the lifespan today is longer, but that’s merely because of medical advances that allow us to survive illnesses that once killed.) Obesity wasn’t the widespread problem it is today. Overall, they were fairly healthy, happy individuals even though they were denied the luxuries we rely on so heavily today.
There are things you can do to give you the same happiness your great-great grandparents, and ancestors further back, benefited from.
Here are seven reasons our ancestors were happier:
1. They weren’t addicted to technology
Technology is great, but it’s addicting. Try to unplug from your electronics for a weekend every month (or more often). This means no smartphones, no television, no computers, etc. Basically you will have electricity and a telephone in case of emergency but that is it. At first it can seem irritating but it really makes you realize how reliant you may be on unnecessary tech.
You can take this a step further by going totally off-grid for a weekend — so zero electricity. You could also go camping for these off-grid weekends so you can practice your survival skills like fire-starting, shelter-building, trapping or fishing.
Our ancestors had none of these. It was a more simple time …and it was wonderful.
2. They had hobbies and skills
No hobby is a waste of time if it’s rewarding, but consider learning new skills that are useable or traditional. Think to what your great-great grandparents learned: knitting or crocheting, woodworking and wood carving, beekeeping, sewing, weaving, winemaking or beer brewing, basketry, or leatherwork. These skills engage your mind and are not only useful in your life but also lead to wonderful handmade gifts for the holidays and possibly some extra money on the side from selling your products.
3. They spent lots of time outdoors – and exercised
Exercise is important but our ancestors grandparents didn’t rely on a treadmill in a stuffy gym to get fit. Try to get your workout done outside as often as possible. Go for a walk, run on a trail, lift heavy things, play a game that gets your heart pumping and stimulates your mind.
Getting fresh air and actually going somewhere (rather than being stationary while exercising) is more beneficial than anything a gym could provide. Don’t forget that getting sun is important in preventing depression like S.A.D as well as improving your overall health.
4. They gardened and grew their own food
Gardening not only provides delicious food for your table but also works your mind and body. Our great-great grandparents didn’t have the luxury of supermarkets. Not having to rely solely on a store is liberating, and you will know exactly how your produce was grown and whether any chemicals/pesticides were used. An additional benefit of gardening is that it gets you outside of the house. You will get some much needed sunlight and fresh air.
5. They rode horses
I may be biased on this one, but nothing quite takes you back in time like riding a horse on a trail. Horseback riding isn’t for everyone, but it’s worth considering. There is something very special about the bond between humans and equines. In fact, horses are used successfully in therapy for both adults and children.
You can reduce your stress, learn a new skill and enjoy the outdoors by taking up horseback riding as a regular hobby. For the best experience, I recommend you find just a local person who would enjoy some help with their horses or a stable that offers trail rides with small groups that can give you a more authentic experience.
6. They spent time with family and friends
Keeping in touch with family and friends is easy today… since we can just go to their Facebook page! Break the habit of virtual get-togethers. Try to get together, in person, with your family and friends at least once a month for a meal or some type of activity. Don’t make the focus going out to the movie theater, but rather do something where you interact with one another.
Family and friends are important, as our great-great parents understood. Even though some of us enjoy solitude, humans need companionship. Friends and family are as vital to our mental health and wellbeing as eating well. Don’t ignore them.
7. They relaxed
After a long day, don’t just plunk down in front of the TV with a glass of wine or a beer. Instead, grab a glass of iced tea or some other healthy beverage and go outside. Sit on your porch or lay in a hammock and just relax. Maybe talk to your husband or wife, or a friend, about your day and let off some steam. Use this quiet time to not only let your body unwind but also allow your mind to rest.
What do you think? Please share your stories or ideas in the comment section below!