A lot of people call me who can’t afford to pay for therapy. It’s true that many of the most powerful ways to work on yourself cost a lot of money. Psychotherapy, high priced seminars, bodywork, yoga classes, nutritional supplements, and seeking advanced training in your field will all improve your life but take significant financial commitment. I personally don’t regret a dollar of the many thousands I’ve spent on the above, but some people are reticent to make such an investment in themselves. Then again, some of the most effective technologies for change cost no money:
1) Exercise It’s been proven over and over again that nothing works better for treating depression. Getting those endorphins pumped up raises your mood, not to mention how much better you look and sexier you feel. Here’s a free program for how to Begin a Running Program from Scratch: http://www.marathontraining.com/faq/faq_br.html. I’ve used this twice myself, once to get started, and once again after a skating accident.
2) 12-Step Programs They’re not just for alcoholics anymore. You may be familiar with AA and the groups having to do with drug addiction, but are you aware of Debtor’s Anonymous, which is highly effective at teaching you how to get out of debt and handle your finances, or the relationship-help programs like Alanon and Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous (SLAA)? Go online, find a meeting in your zip code, and check it out. It’s shocking to meet all the people who are there just to help you for free.
3) Clean up your Diet You already know what you need to do. And no matter how well you eat, you can always do better. Start slowly or make a massive shift depending on what kind of results you want. Sugar, fat, fried foods, alcohol, coffee – in excess you know what they do to your body, but have you ever noted what they do to your moods?
4) Take Time to Do Nothing Some people call this meditation. Our culture is overly focused on productivity and success. See how restorative it is to be quiet, not to talk or read or listen to music or anything. My life changed radically when I learned to just BE instead of do, do, do.
5) Complete your Incompletes Anything unfinished creates a drag on your energy. You can make measurable shifts in your life by finishing up loose ends: clean your house, get the recycling out, donate stuff you’re not using anymore or sell it on craigslist. Get your life current and into integrity.
6) Change the Focus of your Attention Concentrating on everything you imagine to be wrong with yourself and your world is a guaranteed prescription for feeling bad. Practice focusing on what’s right, what’s beautiful, and what’s good.
These practices may not cost money but they will require significant dedication in terms of time and intention. That in itself could be all the change you need.
© 2014 Catherine Auman This article is an excerpt from Catherine’s book Shortcuts to Mindfulness: 100 Ways to Personal and Spiritual Growth