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Does Owning A Vehicle Make You Happier?

You’ve probably heard the taglines before: Men in more expensive cars look healthier and more attractive. Having a nice car will help you “get laid.” Nice car stereotypes are a dime a dozen, but are they true? Will you really be happier driving around a mercedes instead of a toyota? Well, there’s not exactly much science on the subject one way or the other. But there’s psychology that we can deep dive into…so let’s do that!

Not everything we want will make us happy. Science definitely does tell us that. You might want a new video game or a few beers after work one day, but the payoffs for those kinds of purchases are temporary. They wear off. Money that goes toward life experiences is more likely to make us happy. That’s a fact.

So when questioning whether or not that new car will make you happy, you have to first ask yourself: Do I need this? Do I want this? …And why?

Purpose matters when making a decision like this. You might be making the right decision if you have an insane passion for cars. But if you’re just worried about the way you look or thinking about the potential benefits of the purchase, you’re probably making a bad decision. Especially when that decision costs you more money than you need to spend.

It is, however, worth noting that personal expression can result in personal satisfaction — and owning a vehicle can be a powerful way to express yourself. No one expects a thrillseeker to own a nissan. No one expects a red-blooded southerner to buy a vehicle made in Japan. And they shouldn’t. It isn’t about the personal beliefs behind the choice — it’s about the personality behind the choice. Who are you? And what do you want your car to say about your when other people see it?

But owning a nice car can also lead to accidents. There’s a reason insurance rates are higher for faster, flashier cars. Not sure what kind of car you want to buy for yourself? Getting a more affordable vehicle with greater mileage per gallon and enhanced safety options might be worth a second thought — especially if it helps you avoid a serious car accident. More info here.

We want you to enjoy a vehicle, and have the time to enjoy the vehicle, but safety is the priority. You won’t be happy if a joyride leads to heartache. 

So what are the best reasons to own a vehicle? You probably already know our answer: travel and scenery. Those wheels will get you to where you want to go, so why not start with a road trip to the places nearby you’ve never seen before? We’re thinking about state parks, monuments, museums, etc. These are the decisions that will matter most — where you go in life and how you choose to get there. Don’t make bad ones!

Does Marijuana Actually Make You Happier — Or Is It Just An Illusion?

The legality of marijuana is a hot topic lately, in part because our new president hasn’t made his intentions on its categorization by the federal government clear. Will he reschedule the relatively safe drug? Or will it remain a controlled substance just like heroin or cocaine? We’ll have to wait to find out the answer, but for now we can explore the reasons why someone might — or might not — want to try the drug for the first time.

Many people who consume marijuana in some form will experience a boost in happiness. It has the reputation for making people giggly. But the same can be said of alcohol, and we know that alcohol has a depressing effect up to two weeks later. Is marijuana’s effect a similar illusion?

We’re always telling you to get outside for a walk or run. Believe it or not, consuming marijuana can provide that same feeling because of a chemical called anandamide, which was first discovered by Dr. Raphael Mechoulam in 1964. Anandamide is already present in our brains, and it’s one of the chemicals associated with the processing of emotion, glee in particular.

Dr. Gary Wenk wrote: “Cannabinoid neurons…influence the function of our cortex and various limbic (emotion-controlling) regions; when we stimulate these receptors, we impair higher cognitive functions as we experience euphoria, and when they are blocked, we feel depression.”

Don’t celebrate too much yet, though. It’s far too early to know for sure if marijuana has a long-lasting effect on overall happiness, or if it just helps in short bursts. It’s also worth mentioning that everyone experiences the effects of THC differently, and not everyone experiences the giddy, euphoric sensation for which marijuana is known. 

Science does seem to show that marijuana can impact growing brains in a negative way, meaning you should still keep it away from your children — along with the alcohol.

How To Cope With Serious Injury Or Personal Loss

It’s possible anyone reading this blog is more likely to suffer a serious injury than your average Joe — because after all, you’re more likely to be active through walking, running, or swimming than those who don’t really care about personal fitness or fulfillment. And we all suffer immense personal loss sooner or later. How we deal with these stressful predicaments can show us the type of person we are. Channeled correctly, these traumas can be transformed into personal growth. Our goal is to help you achieve that growth.

We’re not going to tell you how to cope with the physical side of the pain. You already know how to do that. Put some ice on it, take some anti-inflammatories, see a doctor, or grit your teeth. It’s the mental side of pain or loss that can be the most taxing, so we’ll start there.

Los Angeles sports and performance psychologist Sari Fine Shepphird said that pain can cause “questions about identity, to fears about performance never returning to pre-injury levels, to worries about disappointing and therefore potentially losing sponsors.”

You need to trust what your doctors tell you as quickly as your brain will allow, and then build reasonable expectations from there. Denying that reality is real won’t make it any less real. Do your best to breathe, accept your situation, and move onto the next step of the process.

One key method to cope with pain is to approach the recovery process as if it were nothing more than a more targeted training regimen — because in a way it is. You’ve heard that old saying: “Mind over matter.” And that’s the truth. Train yourself to relax, especially in the evenings before bed. The calmer you are before bed, the better rested you’ll feel in the morning.

Financial stress can hit harder than other types of stress — say, the physical ones. That’s why every once in a while you might find yourself in a situation that calls for a lawsuit. If that’s the case, it shouldn’t be about holding a grudge. It should only be about making yourself financially whole again so you can take care of the people you love. If someone took advantage of you or caused personal injury, then call on a DC personal injury attorney to help make things right.

Don’t hide things from your doctor or physical therapist. They’re only there to help you. If you hide the pain you feel, they can’t do their jobs. Speaking of therapy, we recommend you give it a try regardless of your personal circumstances. A therapist is someone to whom you can converse openly and about anything. They can provide you with different types of relaxation techniques to try or help you answer questions about your thoughts or feelings. Everyone feels different — and like no one understands — but the truth is most of us have already gone through it in one way or another.

How To Stay Happy By Staying Organized

Many people sink into depression because they feel as if they have lost control over the things in life — and that’s one of the key reasons that the 12-step program that some groups use to rehabilitate their members all have the motto to control the things you can change and accept whatever you can’t change. It doesn’t matter if you have any of dozens of compulsion-related diseases. Learning about control and acceptance will lead you to a more organized, structured life, and that will keep you sane.

Even something as simple as cleaning up your email box can help you feel more in control. Whenever you receive a new email in the social or commercial tabs, consider whether or not you might change the settings to never see it again. Unsubscribe to anything you’ll never use. Keep a lookout for any subscription services you don’t use (Netflix, Hulu, etc) and cancel them.

Done? Great. Now do the same thing to your closet, shoe rack, and home office. Haven’t worn or used something in the last two years? Then you obviously don’t need it (unless we’re talking an armani suit — don’t get rid of that). 

We’re American and we love materialistic things. Books, DVDs, video games, stamps, even coins. You name it, we collect it. But you don’t need all that stuff, and if you’re feeling particularly depressed, the extra garbage you have isn’t helping. What’s more, a lot of those things are available for free. There’s no need to clutter your home with books and DVDs when you can visit the library for free. 

Once you’ve gathered everything you don’t need, it’s time to have a garage sale!

Many people will benefit from a printed daily checklist of things they want or need to do. Wash the dishes, wipe the counters, clean the oven the first Monday of every month, etc. Physically crossing an item off the list when you complete it will feel a lot better than deleting the item from an electronic list.

The Number One Key To Happiness: Stay Out Of Debt

We all know that money isn’t the key to happiness — even if it can contribute to travel and other life-changing experiences that help enrich our lives (which we recommend you partake in as often as possible). But the lack of money can certainly lead to soul-crushing depression. Knowing that your bank accounts are constantly in the red because you can’t afford to use cash to pay for things like groceries and school supplies? That can be even worse.

When taking out a loan, first make sure that repayment is something you can actually handle. Not only do you need a paying job, but the job security needs to be solid unless you can easily find another decent paying position. 

Another thing to consider when taking out a loan is who’s offering it to you. Not every creditor was created equal — and anyone who has juggled Bank of America debt unsuccessfully will probably have a horror story about how the creditors kept them on the hook. Bank of America creditors are different because they don’t sell off the debt to third-parties in order to clear the books. They come after you themselves. And guess what? They can pay for some pretty hefty attorney’s fees.

If you don’t think you can pay for a loan (for a car or home or other big-ticket item), then think smaller. Do you really need a big piece of property? Maybe a smaller one will do. Maybe you don’t need a sports car. Maybe the off-grid tiny homesteading life is for you. Debt isn’t cool — but chickens are. 

All joking aside, there are a number of ways to curb costs. The first is to actually go see a financial consultant. Your bank will almost certainly have one (because they want you to be able to pay your debts, especially when they made the loans). You’ll already have heard that you should find that one luxury item and get rid of it. Starbucks every morning? No. Make your coffee at home. The money adds up.

Here are a few more ways:

Make a shopping list after cutting coupons. And if the grocery store has an app for deeper discounts, download it. Use the coupons for new meal ideas instead of buying expensive ingredients you don’t need.

Know what your significant other is spending money on if you have a joint account. Not sure? Ask. No one can manage a joint account with only one party invested in saving money.

Keep in mind that the more credit you accrue, the worse your credit will become. It’s crucial to plan ahead to keep your bank account healthy, because worse credit means worse interest rates — and that means you pay even more and stay in debt even longer.

Download an app for budgeting. Most of these will provide you with a pie graph to display where you spend all your money — i.e. rent, fast food, groceries, online, etc. This can really help put into perspective what’s important and where you should be trying to spend less.

How To Retain Energy And Concentration In Winter

Season depression is real and affects millions of Americans each year. To say the least: this year it’s compounded by the very real consequences of coronavirus-related isolation, lost jobs, and decreased financial security. And that says nothing about all those who have lost their lives or watched loved ones lose their lives due to a callous indifference displayed by much of society toward what some see as little more than a “hoax.” 

Because of these issues facing society, it’s more difficult than ever to maintain a sense of fulfillment and satisfaction during the daily grind. Trying to retain energy and maintain concentration during the winter months is difficult, but far from impossible. Here are some easy tips to follow.

  1. Drink tea. Coffee drinkers will tell you that they can’t get started without a cup of java at the beginning of their day, but tea drinkers know the truth. Chemical compounds in green tea can help improve your memory, while those found in black tea can boost concentration and keep you alert throughout the day. Also, did you know you can reuse a tea bag? Some people even think tea tastes better the second time you steep a bag.
  2. Exercise. This is the most obvious item on the list, but it can be difficult when motivation is already sapped by the season. But then again, “exercise” really just means “staying active.” Each time you go to take a seat, ask yourself whether you can stay standing instead. Activity means your brain will continue to stay healthy, whereas a sedentary lifestyle will kill the neural connections you need to avoid dementia or Alzheimer’s disease later in life. Not in the mood to go outside for a walk in the foot-deep snow? Try walking up and down the stairs, or boot up a game like “Beat Saber.”
  3. Listen to music. Music can relax your mind and make it easier to complete work when the need arises. But not just any music. Classical music (operas, for example) have a magical way of keeping your brain working like other music cannot.

Legislators Ask New Jersey Visitors To Hold Off On Marijuana Consumption

Many new laws and referendums passed on Election Day were overlooked. Perhaps foremost among them were the four states that voted to legalize recreational marijuana — New Jersey included. Related internet searches have already skyrocketed in the past few weeks, especially in neighboring states like New York and Pennsylvania. But New Jersey legislators have warned travelers not to venture into the state expecting easy access to recreational weed just yet.

Obviously, marijuana helps many people relax. Others use it to relieve pain for medical purposes. No matter what a person uses it for, though, the drug is still controversial — even when it has already been legalized. The New Jersey referendum will amend the state constitution to make the drug legal, but won’t take full effect until January 1 — and even then, state residents wonder whether or not legislators will take action to regulate the drug before that date approaches.

That means recreational marijuana is still illegal under state law — for the time being, at least. 

New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal explained, “It is important that residents accurately understand the current situation, so they do not inadvertently engage in criminal conduct relating to marijuana — conduct that may be legal in the future once the Legislature acts, but is not presently legal based on [Tuesday’s] vote.”

The attorney general’s office in New Jersey will exercise its right to catch, charge, and prosecute those caught with non-medical marijuana, whether in regards to state residents or visitors jumping the gun on consuming the drug.

A statement released by the office after the amendment was passed said, “Law enforcement officers and prosecutors are reminded of their broad discretion when handling low-level marijuana offenses and are encouraged to exercise it consistent with existing guidance from this office. Under that guidance, law enforcement officers and prosecutors should exercise discretion, but cannot adopt blanket policies that de facto decriminalize marijuana, because doing so would not only impermissibly assume a role that belongs to the Legislature, but would also undermine the framework for legalized cannabis that the electorate approved.”

Keep in mind, not all states seek the public’s opinion on new legislation by voting at the state level. For example, Governor Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania recognizes the possible benefits to his communities by legalizing the drug for recreational use, but has asked the legislature to research these potential boons before they take action. 

Spokesperson Lyndsay Kensinger said on Wolf’s behalf: “ [He] has called on the Legislature multiple times to take up legislation to legalize adult-use cannabis, something the vast majority of Pennsylvanians want, but there has been no action to date. The governor has asked the Legislature to focus on two particular benefits of legalization — potential economic growth and much-needed restorative justice.”

That means that the drug might not only be legalized, but also those who have been incarcerated for use or sale of the drug might soon be released or, at the very least, have their cases expunged from record — which will help many people find new jobs.

How To Relax This Election Day

We’re not going to mince words: this election season has been more chaotic than any in living memory. You have people on one side who are crying foul because of alleged mail-in voter fraud and people on the other side aggravated because of voter suppression. You have a president who was allowed the opportunity to appoint three Supreme Court justices, who has refused to concede defeat repeatedly if he loses the election, and stokes all our fears and prejudices. It’s stressful. Here’s how to relax!

One of the most important things you can do is restrict social media on a daily basis. Facebook and Twitter are filled with politically volatile memes, jokes, and misinformation — so stay away from them. Read a book, watch your favorite TV series or movie, or go out for a walk. But don’t look at the phone or watch the news. On that note, you might avoid any election day news! Go on an overnight camping trip if work allows. Do something fun! 

The most difficult part about such a contentious election is knowing how to pick your battles. The best option is this: don’t engage. Your crazy uncle is shouting his head off at the dinner table? Focus on your peas and tune him out. Say nothing, because you know you won’t change his mind anyway.

If you’re not the type of person who can stand back and do nothing, then go ahead and get out there. Your energy might be better used on the frontlines — and in fact, standing back might be making you crazier. Support the election process by volunteering. Be sure to vote. And after this election is over, consider paying more attention to local politics. Meet the people who make things happen. If you like politics, then maybe you’d let off more steam slinging mud with the rest of them!

What To Do If You Were Laid Off During Coronavirus

Were you laid off by your employer during coronavirus? Failing to procure employment — or losing employment and, through it, health insurance — is one of the greatest stresses that United States citizens say they might have. That’s alongside near-poverty, which affects even upper middle class Americans, most of whom can’t even afford a single $400 unexpected expense. Coronavirus provided most of us with exactly that kind of liability, so what can we do?

First of all, don’t lose hope. Giving up simply makes it easier to wallow in despair, which only gets worse and worse.

You need to decide whether or not the circumstances of your termination made sense from a legal standpoint. Small and large businesses alike were already provided with a great deal of financial help during the early months of the coronavirus pandemic, which means that laying off employees without cause isn’t necessarily an action with legal merit. Not sure whether or not your employer acted within the confines of the law? Find an employment attorney who can provide more information for your individual circumstances.

There’s the possibility that Congress will provide additional funding for struggling businesses and individuals in the coming months, but no one is holding their breath. For now, check with your local unemployment office for temporary relief while you search for a new job.

Already looking for a new job? Work takes up a lot of our time. For some of us, it provides much-needed exercise while we’re out of the house. When we don’t have a job, we need to take steps to get that exercise ourselves, which can be even more difficult because of coronavirus restrictions in crowded neighborhoods. Wear a mask whenever you leave home. But try to make use of your free time to find natural areas to explore near you. Wooded areas in particular release “happy” hormones into your body, helping to relieve stress.

Even when you don’t have a job, it’s important to create a routine and stick with it. That means going to bed and waking up at similar times each day. It means taking a shower and putting on a new set of clothes — not pajamas — in the morning. You can perform these simple actions to inject a little normalcy into an unhappy situation, making it easier for you to stay content. 

Make sure your kids or spouse are provided with the same structure. Don’t let anyone else take away from what you need to do for you!

Aside from outdoor exercise, we recommend listening to upbeat music several times a day. We recommend doing the dishes by hand instead of using the dishwasher, because manual labor can be cathartic. We recommend also putting away the “screens” an hour or two before bed. That means no TV, computer, tablet, or smartphone. Instead, pick up a book! Reading can help wire the brain to shut down when it’s ready. 

How To Stay In Control During The Coronavirus Outbreak

Depression is a powerful experience. Most people who have it will never forget that experience. Coronavirus is leading millions of people down that dangerous road to depression — and even those who haven’t felt it still feel like they might be losing control over their own lives. That’s what happens when one loses one’s job and is forced to stay home for a long period of time.

The good news is this: as businesses continue to reopen, there will be more opportunities to find a new job or get outside.

The bad news is this: you’re the one who needs to decide if getting outside to find a new job is worth the risk to yourself and your loved ones. It would be wonderful if our government only operated to protect its people, but that appears not to be the case. And so the decision comes down to you.

We recommend staying indoors when possible.

Staying indoors, however, means you need to find new ways of remaining in control of your own life. Get outside for exercise whenever possible: it will leave you with happy hormones that make it easier to obtain that feeling of control. Keep in mind that you might want a face mask when you do leave home. Scientists have discovered that runners and bikers can leave droplets in the air farther than six feet behind them. Be wary of who you follow!

When indoors, try to get up and move around at least once an hour. If you’re a homeowner, try working outside in the garden (this is the perfect time to grow your own food!) or play with the kids or your pets.

Part of being in control means taking the appropriate precautions to protect yourself in your own home. Are you sure you’re doing all the right things to avoid contact with those who might be infected with coronavirus?

Check with the CDC for best practices: