How to Cope with Tragic Events

In the aftermath of the recent terrorist attack at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida, I felt it was important to provide some information on how to cope with tragic events.

When the unthinkable happens it is normal to have strong reactions. Of course, these reactions will vary depending upon how someone was personally impacted by the situation. There is no right or wrong way to feel or respond.

 

Critical incidents may include:

  • Natural disasters
  • Death of a loved one: friend, family member, co-worker, etc.
  • Serious accidents, injuries or illnesses
  • Terrorist attacks
  • Violent attacks
  • Robberies
  • Fires

When tragedies happen, people naturally try to gain control of the situation. They may deny their emotional reactions to maintain distance and “hold it all together.” Frequently, people try to keep the event from having any effect on their lives at all. While denial can help people cope in the short-term, remaining in the denial phase for too long can have negative consequences on a person’s overall health and well-being. People experience reactions on multiple levels: Emotional, Physical, Cognitive, and Behavioral.

Common reactions include:

Emotional Physical  Cognitive Behavioral
Anxiety Fatigue Confusion Isolation
Fear Twitching Forgetfulness Increased alcohol use
Numbness Nausea Distraction Increased drug use
Uncertainty Headaches/body aches Flashbacks Restlessness
Anger Sleep disruption Poor judgment Being jumpy or edgy
Guilt Sweating Poor concentration Relationship problems
Grief Dizziness Nightmares Appetite Changes
Disbelief Digestive problems Suspiciousness Decreased sex drive
Depression Breathing problems Shock/denial Decreased productivity

 

How to take care of yourself:

Generally, these reactions are temporary, and should pass within a few weeks. While they are a normal, expected response to a crisis, here are some things you can do to reduce their impact and restore normal feelings and functioning more quickly:
• Remember all these reactions are normal. What you are experiencing is an expected, temporary response to a traumatic event. Be patient with yourself and recognize that healing takes time.

• One of the most effective treatments for dealing with personal trauma is talking – to friends, loved ones, ministers or sometimes a counselor. Discussing the event repeatedly is a common, normal and helpful activity for many people who have undergone personal crises.

• If talking isn’t possible, try writing out your thoughts and feelings. You might want to write to someone who is special, or to pretend you are writing to that person. You might want to write out your feelings to yourself. What is written needn’t be sent or shared with anyone else; just putting words to feelings is often helpful in clarifying emotions and reducing your stress.

• Moderate physical exercise (walking, stretching, etc.), alternated with periods of relaxation, may be helpful, but consider seeing your doctor before starting any new exercise program to determine the frequency and type of exercise that is appropriate for you.

• Drugs, including alcohol and tobacco, should be avoided. Instead, substitute other stress- reducing activities. While drugs may temporarily ease the symptoms of stress, they also mask emotions and feelings, sometimes slowing normal recovery.

• If reactions to the crisis are excessive, short-term use of medication, prescribed by a physician specifically for you, may be helpful and appropriate. Consult with your doctor about this.

• Limit the amount of time you watch the news. The 24/7 news cycle constantly pumps tragic events into our homes, and more importantly into our minds. If it gets to be too much, turn off the television or change the channel.

• Be productive and make necessary decisions, but don’t make major life changes until you are sure the crisis has passed.

• Concentrate on what you can control in your life, and let go of those things you have no control over.

• Use your support system – your friends, family, pets, religion, hobbies, sports, etc. Most people want to help but do not always know how. Tell people what you need and want, as well as what you don’t.

• Pamper yourself. Get plenty of rest. Eat regular meals even if you don’t feel like it. Be as self-nurturing as you can—plan enjoyable and relaxing activities into your schedule.

• Spend time with others. Don’t isolate if it makes you feel uncomfortable, or if it is hampering the progress of your recovery.

Be patient with yourself as you go through the healing process. Recurring thoughts, flashbacks, restlessness, etc., will eventually fade away. Give yourself permission to recover at your own pace. Remember that you are having normal reactions to an abnormal, stressful event. Be as loving to yourself as you would be to someone you truly love. If your reactions persist for some time, seek professional help to aid you in your recovery.

Have a Plan to Get the Results You Want

You have finally decided that it is time to make some changes in your life. You know that the only way things are going to improve for you financially, spiritually, emotionally, and physically is if you get off your butt and take action.

So how exactly are you going to implement these changes? Do you have a plan?

An action plan is crucial to your success. Without a plan the changes you desire are merely thoughts that will never happen. However, when you add your thoughts to paper coupled with desire, and then proceed to do everything possible to achieve them, now you have a template for success.

A simple equation to use when creating a plan of action is: Desire + Action = Results.

Step one is to write down exactly what it is you desire: wealth, personal development, weight loss, a healthy relationship, or whatever it is that you so strongly desire that you simply can’t go without it any longer – write it all down. Make your desires realistic to start. For example, if your desire is to lose 20 pounds, it is unrealistic to believe you can lose 20 pounds in 3 days. However, it is possible to lose 20 pounds in 3 months with a proper plan of action. It’s important to note that there should also be a time frame with regards to your plan. Time frames are the milestones to marking your achievements.

Now that you know your specific desire(s), the next step it to list the ways in which you plan to achieve optimum results. How do I plan to lose the 20 pounds?  What do I have to do each day in order to achieve my goal?  What do I personally need to do to see this plan come to fruition?

Set up a schedule outlining each step that needs to be taken daily to achieve your weekly goals. Be specific. Create a daily “to do” list so at the end of the week you will be able to see how much you were able to accomplish. Congratulate yourself for each accomplishment.

Step three is to make a strong commitment to yourself. Work your plan and stay focused on the positive outcome. List all the reasons why you will be able to achieve your objective. Utilize the strengths you possess that will help you to complete your plan. Get into the emotion of how you will feel when you accomplish your goal. What will it be like? How will your life be different? How will you FEEL.

Prepare yourself for roadblocks.

Know and anticipate your weaknesses and make a concerted effort to overcome them. Incorporate both your strengths and weakness into your plan. Know your capabilities and your shortcomings.

Put a personal reward system in place. Know what each reward will be for each accomplishment that you have fulfilled throughout your plan. With every desired result you achieve there should be a reward for having done so. An incentive plan customized to your desires.

Do not allow yourself get disheartened or discouraged. If you have a temporary setback, acknowledge it and continue to move forward by taking action. Refocus on your plan. Your plan is your future. The life you want to create, so take time to nurture and understand it. Your success will not be achieved in one day. Success is a process and the process is something you have to plan for.

I get that it can be a drag to actually sit down to consider these things, and then to take the time to write out a customized plan. However, without a clear plan you have no direction, no roadmap, and you will not achieve your goals.

You and only you can determine if the reward is worth the price you will pay for the effort involved.

 

A Dose of Vitamin M

Motivation is the driving force behind life-enhancing change. It comes from knowing exactly what you want to do and having an insatiable, burning desire to do what’s necessary to accomplish it. Motivation is necessary to keep your dream on track. It’s the power that keeps you moving forward when the going gets tough.

 

Here are 5 top tips to help you supercharge your motivation:
 
1. Create a vision board and fill it with images of your desired goals. The car you want to own, the house you want to live in, the area where you want to live. Yes, these are the obvious ones. Others could be pictures of vacation destinations, trophies, first-class travel tickets, clothes you want to buy, fine restaurants you want to frequent. Or, perhaps it’s you completing a project that has a positive impact on the world – whatever you can think of that gets your pulse racing.
 
2. GET ANGRY. If you want to change your life for the better then get angry about it. Having a blasé attitude towards change isn’t what’s needed and it won’t create a strong enough desire within you. So ask yourself: “Why do I want to change?” Is it because you’re FED UP with being in debt? Is it because your job is DRIVING YOU CRAZY and you want OUT? Is your life DULL AND PREDICTABLE? Are you SICK AND TIRED of doing the same thing week in and week out? Are you BORED, BORED, BORED BEYOND BELIEF by all the dull, uninspiring, unhappy people you associate with? THEN GET ANGRY ABOUT IT! Write it all down – all of the frustrating, unrewarding, miserable things that make every day a drag. Is this how you want your life to remain until your final days? IS THAT WHAT YOU WANT? Remember the words of Albert Einstein:
 

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again
and expecting different results.”
 
3. Speaking of your final days, start to appreciate the value of time. Time is one of the most precious resources you have and it is also a NON RENEWABLE resource. You can either use it fully or foolishly squander it. If you want to create change you’re going to have to invest a lot of time to make it happen. Start to reduce the time you waste on irrelevancies: Television, news media, weekends spent shopping, partying, dining out, visiting an endless line of relatives and friends – these won’t help you get what you want and all of them will rob you of time – valuable time that you can use much more effectively by investing it in YOU. Remember this: You have a finite amount of time here on Earth. You don’t know how much time you have – none of us do. However, it’s how you use the time you have that counts. So make your time count and that means starting from right NOW.
 

If not NOW, WHEN?
 
4. Conformity. Are you a mindless little sheep who’s way too timid to pursue your own path? Do you have to follow where everyone else goes, doing exactly what everyone else does and getting the same level of happiness as all the others? Seriously, does this describe YOU? Are you too frightened to be different because others won’t like it if you pursue a different direction? Do you dutifully follow the herd because if they’re doing it, then it must be right? Remember, if you do what everyone else does you’ll get what everyone else gets. Do you want to be a mindless, timid little sheep who blindly follows all the others? Or, do you want to be a leader, a warrior who possesses the courage to be uniquely you and to do what you want to do and make your dreams a reality? If so, then this means you have to be more like a tiger than a sheep. Besides, haven’t we got enough sheep already?
 
5. Conquer your fear. Fear is the force that is determined to stop you in your tracks and rob you of your dreams. But it can only do so if you let it. Are you going to let this cruel destructive charlatan trample on your dreams, steal your happiness, and crush your spirit? Imagine this thought haunting your final days: I didn’t do the things I wanted because I was too frightened to live. And by then, it’ll be far too late to conquer fear. Refuse to let fear spoil your life and start taking action – now!
 
The world is waiting for your unique talents and gifts. Why keep it waiting any longer?

 

Gay Love Connections

Gay Love Connections, a subsidiary of Life Solutions for Gay Men, was developed as the premier matchmaking and dating website for Gay Men. Recognizing and responding to a definite need, our mission is to provide you with the resources you need to be your best authentic self and to achieve your relationship goals.

Learn more here:

www.GayLoveConnections.com

Make the Yuletide Gay?

For many gay men the holidays are an extremely difficult time causing increased feelings of isolation, loneliness, and depression. The demands and expectations placed upon us during the holidays can be overwhelming. Instead of being a time of joy and celebration, the holidays often become a source of anxiety, conflict, and disappointment.

Several factors contribute to these feelings. As children we had high expectations and fantasies about the holidays. We were flooded with messages and images from television, movies, and advertisements of beautifully decorated homes, and blissful holiday experiences with family and loved ones. For many, however, our lives were less than idyllic, and the images and messages we were fed didn’t match what we experienced or felt on the inside.
 
As gay adults, the holidays pose many unique challenges. Gay men are often forced to make compromises because of who they are. Same-sex couples may be faced with homophobic parents or family members that place undue burdens upon them. Singles may feel like an “outcast” for showing up to family gatherings alone. Oftentimes a significant other may not be welcomed to attend an event even though straight siblings can bring their dates. Worst yet, many guys are completely estranged from their families. Others are isolated due to the death of a partner or having no friends around to celebrate the season with. These internal and external factors cause a lot of stress, leading to isolation and despair around a season that is supposed to be filled with joy.
 
The hype of the holidays makes us believe that the only way to be truly happy is to celebrate with family and loved ones. Truthfully, however, it’s really all about your attitude. There are lots of things you can appreciate and enjoy should you find yourself on your own this holiday season. To do this, you must focus on staying positive, and avoid slipping into negativity.
 
Here are a few suggestions to assist you:
     

  •  Acknowledge and accept your feelings. Don’t criticize and beat yourself up for feeling blue. Tell your ego to be quiet! It doesn’t mean you’re a “loser” if you’re alone this season. That’s complete nonsense! Be kind to yourself. Let go of shame and accept where you are right now. You can always make positive changes.
  •  

  •  Remain open and don’t isolate – If someone asks you what your plans are, don’t avoid the issue and say you have something to do when you really don’t. Be honest and tell them you don’t have any plans. If you’re lucky, they might just offer you to join them in a meal or a fun event.
  •  

  •  Embrace the opportunity for some solitude. Reflect on your life and what you want to accomplish in the new year. This is the perfect time to take inventory of your goals and objectives and develop a plan to achieve them. You’ve got some alone time on your hands. Use it to your advantage.
  •  

  •  Have some fun! Catch up on movies or shows you’ve been dying to see. Get some DVDs or have a Netflix marathon. Many new movies are released on Christmas Day, so take yourself out to see a great new film. Catch up on your reading, or chat and play games online.
  •  

  •  Enjoy the company of pets. If you have a dog or cat enjoy playing and spending time with them. Take your dog for a run in the park. If you don’t have any pets, you may want to consider house and dog sitting for friends who are away. This could definitely be a nice change of pace for you.
  •  

  •  Avoid using drugs and alcohol. If you are in recovery, be sure to stick to your program. The holidays can be a big trigger, so be sure to have supports in place. If you are involved in a 12-Step program, be sure to attend meetings. If you are not in recovery, avoid excessive drinking and reduce your alcohol consumption. Alcohol is a depressant, and excessive drinking can definitely make you feel sad.
  •  

  •  If you really dread being alone, seek out some volunteer opportunities. One of the best ways to get outside of your “head” is to donate your time to others. Serve dinner at a homeless shelter or visit seniors at a nursing home to bring them some holiday cheer. You will boost your energy and self-esteem by giving of yourself to others who are less fortunate. You’ll be glad you did!
  •  

  • Check out your local LGBT Community Center to explore social events that may be happening. Connect with others who might also be alone. If you are a person of faith, attend religious services in your local community. Balance your alone time with activities around other people. You will feel less isolated.

 

Remember that no one is responsible for making you happy. This is a choice you get to make. The fact of the matter is that there are many people right now who are involved in bad relationships, or dealing with miserable family situations who would give anything to be in your shoes. Accept what is, and enjoy your own company. Take pleasure in doing things you love but don’t always have the time for.

 

If you expect to be alone this holiday season, please make it a good one. Be good to yourself – focus on what you want to achieve in the new year, enjoy some quality alone time, interact with new people, and help those in need. This is a great opportunity to learn even more about yourself!

 

Gratitude Unlocks the Fullness of Life

Thanksgiving is the natural time to reflect on all the things that we are grateful for in our lives. However, it would benefit us greatly to experience gratitude on a daily basis instead of just thinking about it once a year.

Studies have shown that an “attitude of gratitude” has wide-ranging psychological and health benefits. Gratitude elicits positive emotions such as joy, contentment, hope and happiness, which in turn provides direct physical benefits by boosting the body’s immune and endocrine systems. Additionally, when we recognize and appreciate the good in our lives, we are certain to create more of it because whatever we focus on expands into our life experience.

 

Here are some benefits of gratitude:

 

Reaching your goals: When you feel grateful, it tends to be a lasting and selfless feeling. It’s much more than just a momentary burst of positive energy; it has staying power that will provide a great boost for you to reach your goals.

 

Showing gratitude is a two way street. Learn how to effectively express your
gratitude and, just as importantly, to receive it as well.

 

Strengthened relationships: There are many ways you can express your gratitude to your loved ones, including saying, “Thank you,” writing a letter, or giving them a thoughtful gift. When you learn to avoid taking your loved ones for granted, you’ll have a long lasting and loving relationship.

 

When you express your gratitude to others, ensure that you’re open and expressive. People don’t know what you’re thinking; hearing it can make all the difference.

 

Improved communication: Gratitude can mean better communication all around. By expressing your gratitude to strangers, they’ll be more likely to show an interest in helping you, too.

 

Gratitude is such a powerful entity that it can even help you communicate with your pets! They should be appreciated too.

 

Effective and constructive criticism: No matter how we express constructive criticism, it often makes the recipient defensive or even angry. No one likes a blow to the ego. In this situation, a grateful attitude can take you a long way. You can express criticism quite effectively when you also emphasize what you appreciate about them.

 

Gratitude Journal

 

One of the best ways to emphasize the positive aspects of your life is to start a gratitude journal. Get yourself a notebook or journal and start by writing five to ten things that you are grateful for. You can add entries each day or at least each week as you think of them. Keep the journal near your nightstand and read your entries before you go to bed at night. This is a much better way to end the day rather than watching all the horror stories on the evening news. By participating in this activity on a routine basis, your focus will shift. You will begin to look for and identify more and more things that you are grateful for, and you will want to enter them into your journal. Your entries don’t have to be spectacular or life altering events; they can be as simple as “I am so grateful to have a warm bed to sleep in at night” or “I am grateful for my friends who love me.”

 

As you practice reflecting on what is good in your life, you will appreciate yourself and your life more fully each day. Although you still have many goals and dreams you want to pursue, you can accept and appreciate where you are in your life right now. You will never be finished and you will never get it done, so focusing on what you love about your life right now will bring you joy!

 

“We can walk this earth in one of two ways – taking it for granted or taking it with gratitude.”
~ Rev. Mark F. Phillips

 

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.”
~ Melody Beattie

 

Guilt Free Holiday Eating

As the holidays approach, we find ourselves surrounded with cookies, cakes, candies, stuffing, sauces, and a variety of delectable foods. Trying to eat right and have well-balanced meals is usually tough, and makes us feel guilty when we stray from our normal routine. But should we really be remorseful? And do we really have to substitute low-fat foods for our traditional holiday favorites? Certainly, you will find sensible approaches to eating; however, sometimes it’s really nice to just let down your guard and go for it!

If you typically watch yourself and maintain a healthy diet throughout the year, the holidays can be a time to let yourself relax and loosen the reins. Obviously, we all have to eat to survive; however, food and socializing go naturally together. As humans, we love to share our meals. Whether it’s with your partner, friends, family or co-workers; food is almost always shared. During the holidays, our socializing increases with parties, events, and family functions where food and drink are abundantly served. Clearly, we are not just gathering for nutritional purposes, but rather to catch up on the latest news and gossip with those in our social circles. Of course it’s a bonus if you can have a healthy meal, so when you approach a banquet table, remember, you always have the power of choice to pick the foods you want. You should eat the way you want without any shame or guilt about it afterward.

Give Yourself a Break

If you’re concerned that you’ll waver too much, set a goal for yourself. Be realistic and remember to focus on your accomplishments. Prioritize what is important to you and recognize that it is okay to set boundaries with your time and your diet. You know you can’t be everywhere and do it all, so try not to please everyone. Decide what is truly important to you and commit to it.

Take into account the difference between simple facts vs. hype. Recognize that gym memberships and weight loss programs will be advertised throughout December and especially in January. They will talk about holiday weight gain, and lack of exercise, while manipulating you with guilt and shame. But do individuals really gain up to 10 pounds or more during the holiday season? Numerous studies indicate the average person only gains about 1-2 pounds throughout the holiday and winter season. The problem is that many individuals do not lose the added weight, and so it tends to accumulate over the years.

What does this mean for you? It means you can take it a bit easier as well as consider exactly how you plan to lose that extra pound or two, or perhaps not gain it at all. Remember what you’ve always heard: everything in moderation.

Finding Balance

As with anything in life, an excessive amount of a good thing can turn out to be bad. Here are some tips to help you maintain your healthy eating goals throughout the holiday season:

•   Don’t skip meals and go to your event hungry. Instead, make an effort to maintain your normal eating habits whenever you can.

•   Have a healthy snack ahead of time. A healthy granola or power bar will help you to manage your food cravings and eat less.

•   When you arrive at your event, take a look at the available food and beverages and make a quick plan of what you want to eat.

•   Choose to fill your plate with the healthiest foods first, such as fruits, vegetables, salads, etc. Politely decline any foods that you don’t want.

•   Keep track of how much you drink. Alcoholic beverages add unnecessary calories to whatever you eat. Try to drink water or seltzer in between alcoholic drinks to consume less.

•   When you’re going to indulge, cut back on something else later to even yourself out.

Physical exercise is also important. If you exercise, stick as close as possible to your usual routine. Schedule half an hour a day to complete some type of physical activity. Walking is always a great option. It’s better to do something than nothing. Incorporating physical activity with your holiday eating strategies will help you maintain your current weight and overall well-being.

Ultimately, the holidays are meant to be fun! Approach them on your own terms and let go of any pangs of shame, guilt, or bad feelings.

Dating Survival Tips for Gay Men

“I don’t think there’s enough passion between us”, “I don’t think we are a complete match”, “I’m not feeling a click”, “I don’t think there’s enough chemistry on my side”, “We’re not sexually compatible”, “I’m not ready for a relationship”, “It’s not you; it’s me”, “I’d like for us to remain friends”.

Oh…the perils of dating! We’ve all been on the giving or receiving end of these statements and it never feels good either way. Sometimes nothing is ever said, and the situation just fades away causing us even more confusion. Dating can be very difficult, especially in the online environments we often find ourselves.

So how do we take care of our personal well-being in dating situations?

Here are some dating survival tips to consider:

1). Date for dating’s sake – Get rid of the expectation of finding “the
one” and just date. Meet people with the intention of getting to know them and
learning about who they are. Avoid getting emotionally caught up too soon. Release
the pressure and expectation that this might be “the one” for the long-term.

2). Actions don’t necessarily speak louder than words – We’ve all been
told that “actions speak louder than words” but this isn’t always so. Be wary
of interpreting someone’s actions as meaning that they are into you or that
they actually want a relationship with you. Some guys may say sweet things, buy
you flowers or gifts, treat you to dinner, introduce you to their friends and
family or initiate sex as a part of their own dating rituals. These actions may
hold no specific meaning to you whatsoever.

3). Have fun – Enjoy the process of dating. Put your best self forward
and have fun. You cannot control another person’s thoughts, feelings or
behaviors. You also can’t control the outcome of the experience. You can allow
yourself to have fun! Be lighthearted about it all – stay in the moment, enjoy
your dates and let go of your attachment to the outcome.

4). Stay focused on your life – Make time to plan activities apart from
dating. Remember that dating is only one aspect of your life. Do other things
that bring you pleasure and balance your dating life with other important life
areas – having a rich full life makes you a very attractive person overall.

5). Learn how to handle rejection – It’s never easy to be let down but don’t
personalize the rejection. Recognize that everyone has their own psychological
issues and relationship histories that they bring into dating situations. If
someone tells you they don’t want to go forward don’t make it about you. There
can be any number of reasons that caused them to back out, and they probably
have absolutely nothing to do with you. If you need to, you can talk about the
experience with a friend, therapist or coach to help you to quickly move on.

6). Focus on your well-being – Take care of yourself every day by asking
What can I do to take care of myself today?  Perhaps it’s exercising,
meditating, or going out with friends or family. Do whatever is meaningful to
you. Make a commitment to yourself to do something each day that makes you feel
good.

Finally, always remember what my grandmother used to say:

“Men are like buses, there is always another one coming”!

 

 

 

My Mind is at Peace

Stress is as much a mental issue as a physical one and it is important to know how to soothe and clear your mind. Sometimes it can be difficult to let go of things when you get home after a long day. You may even find yourself dreaming about work or other stressful situations each night. These are all signs that you are dealing with too much stress. But how do you let go of these nagging thoughts and feelings?

Clearing and soothing your mind can be achieved by focusing on something that you really enjoy. Everyone has the ability to focus, however, some people are more adept at maintaining their focus than others.

What you need is something that will distract you from the disturbing or unwanted thoughts and feelings that you are experiencing. Think back to a time when you were so engrossed in something that the time just flew by. This is the point where you want to be.

Getting to this point is easier than you might think. If you are having trouble allowing all the stress and tension to leave your body, you might want to try meditating. Mediation can help to relax your body and mind. If meditation doesn’t appeal to you, try using soothing music or sounds to help you relax.

Sounds to listen to that can help you focus and relax include the sounds of ocean waves, the sounds of a waterfall or the sounds of birds chirping. All of these can help ease, clear and soothe your mind.

It can also be helpful to have a point or object to focus on. Try lying on your bed and look at a picture that holds a special meaning to you. Perhaps it’s a picture of you vacationing with your friends, or a picture of you and your boyfriend at a special event. Maybe it’s a picture of a pet you cherish. Once you have your picture, put on your music or sounds, and let it envelop you. Stay focused on your picture as you connect to the positive thoughts and emotions you experience, allowing them to wash over you.

Reading is another wonderful source for relaxation. Losing yourself in a story is a great way to get out of your head. and helps you take your mind off worries and problems. Books can quickly transport you into another place and time and will easily transform your state of mind.

Another great way to relax and get back in touch with your body is to go for a massage. A great massage can relieve the tension in your muscles, leaving you refreshed and rejuvenated once again.

Soothing your mind involves learning how to discover or reconnect to the pleasures in your life. Once you have found what brings you peace, embrace it. Get into the habit of soothing your mind on a regular basis. You may want to start an evening routine to help you to wind down and relax before going to bed. Designate a specific time to start your evening routine, and do things that help soothe and relax you. Turn off the television, stop taking phone calls (unless there is an emergency), and stay off the internet. Dim the lights so your natural melatonin levels start to kick in. You might want to take a warm relaxing bath or shower to relieve and wash away the stress of the day. Do whatever it is that works for you. It’s important to quiet down all the external stimuli that bombards you every day, so that you can calm and soothe your mind. When your mind is at peace, you think clearly and precisely. Order is restored and you are able to reconnect with the good in your life and the positive vision you hold for your future.

Any time that your work or life in general is getting you down, treat yourself to something that makes you truly happy.

“A mind at peace, a mind centered and not focused on harming others, is stronger than any physical force in the universe.” 

~ Wayne Dyer

I Am Gay, Happy and Free!

You’ve heard it countless times that happiness comes from within, and this is absolutely true. Yet it’s also a fact that we sometimes need external motivation in order for us to achieve what makes us happy. Everyone has a different idea of what they need to be happy. No matter what it is, we all desire joy in our lives.

As gay men, we sometimes look outside of ourselves and make comparisons. We may feel that we come up short in some way. We don’t have the right body. We don’t make or have as much money as our friends. We don’t even have so many friends. We don’t travel and lead exciting lives like other gay guys we know.

If you’re like me, you may have often wondered, Where do I fit in? I know I’m gay, but I don’t always relate to what’s expected of me as a gay man. Well, the truth is, when you come to realize and accept that you don’t have to fit into anyone’s mold of what it means to be a gay man, freedom and happiness ensue. You now get to create your life in your own unique way. You step into the driver’s seat, and you become the leader of your life.

Here are a few tips you can use as a guide to live authentically and increase your happiness:

Acknowledge your need to be happy. Although most of us say we want to be happy not everyone has a strong enough desire to make it their primary goal. We get bogged down by life’s challenges, which can lead us into frustration, anger and even depression. Although we may not always have control over what happens in our lives, we definitely have control over our thoughts, interpretations, and reactions to life events. Ask yourself: Do I want to be right or happy? What is most important here? Then refocus your attention on your emotional well-being. What would make you feel better in this moment?

Let go of the status quo. If your life no longer feels like it fits who you are, it’s time to be honest with yourself. Give up the need to be like everyone else. Stop behaving in preconceived ways because you are gay and think you must live accordingly. You don’t have to live an “image” of what it means to be gay. Learn to live authentically by being true to yourself, not what society or anyone else dictates to you.

Know what makes you tick. Every individual is different in the way they perceive happiness. Although we all share the basic goal of happiness in life, we may have dissimilar outlooks on how to get there. One man’s heaven is another man’s hell. Understanding your personality and preferences will give you clarity on what makes you happy and how you can remain in that state for longer and longer periods of time.

Discover the things that make you happy. Start to brainstorm and make a list of the things that bring you joy. Jot down everything and be truthful. This may include material items, or intangible ones like being loved by someone, getting your dream job, traveling around the world, and so forth. Engaging in activities, and spending time with people, in places, and with things that bring you joy on a more frequent basis will definitely increase your happiness.

Make an action plan. Once you have identified items on your list that are crucial for your happiness, it’s time for implementation. Set goals that are aligned with your authentic self; develop a plan, and make a commitment to make them happen.

Seek support. No man is an island. We all need support and encouragement. Locate a mentor, therapist, or life coach who can support you in achieving your goals. Make an investment in yourself. You are your number one asset. Don’t neglect yourself. Give yourself the gift of someone who can fully support you on your journey.

Get moving and be happy. Remember, as you shoot for happiness you must also savor the journey and choose to be happy each day. In every stage of life we can always find things to be grateful for. Acknowledge your achievements and be grateful for your life as it is right now. You can still set goals while embracing the now. Cultivate the positive feelings you experience as you move forward, knowing you are on the path to being all you want to be. You’ll discover that you are already a much happier guy!

“How simple it is to see that we can only be happy now, and there will never be a time when it is not now.”

~ Gerald Jampolsky