It’s hard to find a happy place in today’s world. Years of unhealthy messages from the media have tricked us into thinking we’ll never know what true contentment is. Though we try to seek it, we’re continuously pushed down by the world around us until it becomes a habit to stay submissive. The truth is, real value comes from inside – not from others.

So many gay men out there are desperate for balance. Despite what the world says about us, it’s a struggle to maintain any sort of contentment in our daily routine. The dog-eat-dog philosophy has turned us into sharks, but now is the time to find ourselves. Only we can define our happiness. Only we can decide what our value is. This is the essence of independence. Here are a few things that will get us there:

#1) Choose Friends Wisely
Surrounding yourself with people who have your best interests at heart can be difficult in this day and age, especially in the gay community. We’re all trying to prove ourselves so being able to share the spotlight at any time can be hard. Knowing the difference between friends and acquaintances plays a huge role in structuring your well-being. Don’t get too close to people you’ve heard are toxic or people you have a bad feeling about. The last thing you want to do is get stuck in a friendship that’s tied down by history and not love. When you surround yourself with good energy, good things will happen. Always.

#2) Turn Dreams Into Challenges
Instead of dreaming about the things you want to accomplish in life, turn them into challenges. This might make them seem more possible rather than keeping them towed away in the imagination. Everything in life comes from making an effort. By saying “I’m going to achieve this. It’ll be a challenge, but I’m still going to try” gives you the fuel you need to bring your dreams to earth instead of keeping them in the clouds. Inspire yourself by making it possible.

#3) Appreciate The Small Things
Gigantic rewards start small. The road to long-term happiness and contentment always begin with tiny pleasures blossoming into a wider world of gratitude. Acknowledging an extra scoop of ice-cream from the vendor, a smiling child on the subway, a cute puppy walking the crosswalk or even a small compliment from your next door neighbor has the potential of redirecting your state of mind towards a healthier direction as the day continues. And don’t just wait to seek them out. Create them yourself! Go buy something cheap from your favorite store, reward yourself to a hot fudge sundae or listen to your favorite song. Find excuses to jumpstart your happy fuel.

#4) Change Your Perception Of Time
If there’s one thing that makes most people depressed or anxious, it’s time. Never should you let it rule your life. There are so many things you can do throughout the day that will help you save time either for the next day or the next week. Never let yourself get neurotic. Organization is key.
Your time is important and it should be spent doing things you enjoy doing so you can get “lost in the moment,” allowing yourself to lose track of time. Time goes by so slowly when you’re at work or doing something labor full. This is because you aren’t enjoying the activity. Change up the routine and try to make it easier by altering the normalcy in everything. Trust me, you’ll notice the minute hand speeding up as the hours continue.

#5) Don’t Play The “Power” Game
Growing up, most of our dads taught us how to appear confident. Firm handshake, a drop in the vocal register, and square shoulders are often portrayed as a display of nonverbal self-confidence. Though it’s great to give this message across to the world in a business meeting, you shouldn’t let it define your entire impression. As humans, we like people who like us. The “power” game is usually meant to set the balance of importance, i.e. making the person you’re talking to feel submissive to your greatness. Relax and make sure your appreciation for them does ’t go unnoticed. It’s always going to be reciprocated. Drop the act. Be you. You’re enough.

#6) Don’t Be Afraid Of Being Wrong
Instead of wanting to be right all the time, focus your attention on being unafraid of being wrong. We all know the types of people who proudly display their need to be right while totally disregarding the opinions of others. Though they think they’re showing confidence, they’re actually being a bully.
One major ingredient of happiness is the ability to let it all go. Who cares about being right? If you’re wrong you’ll be corrected and move forward having learned something, but at least you weren’t afraid of saying your opinion. Finding out what is right is more important than being right. Start to put this into practice.

#7) Accept A Compliment
Don’t argue with a friend as soon as they tell you how great you look. Be gracious and appreciative. The more you throw away compliments, the less likely they’ll want to do it ever again. These kinds of things teach others how to treat you, which plays a huge role in how we feel about ourselves. It’s all about give and take in life, and the hardest thing is to learn how to take, but as soon as we do, trust me, the world opens up endless possibilities.

#8) See Setbacks As Opportunities
It’s easy to see setbacks as dead ends or potholes, but no one has ever gotten anything in life by accepting the fact it “may be” over. Instead of throwing your hands up in the air, go to the drawing board and devise a new strategy. All roads really do lead to Rome. It takes confidence to see setbacks as opportunities because it’s courageous. Failures are not a reflection on our value in life nor are they a reflection of our talent or drive. A more accurate depiction of that would be whether we give up… or not. Learn to be an opportunist. Learn to say “Why not me?”

#9) Seek Approval From Those Who Matter 
It’s hard to not want approval from strangers, especially when our lives are on constant 24-hour display on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. But in the long run, what’s most important: trying to please 10K followers on Twitter whom you’ve never met or pleasing the few people in your life that you truly love? Knowing that we’ve gained our loved ones trust and respect is like setting our happy engines aflame. We march with confidence, we hold our head up high and we can’t stop smiling because we know the people who truly matter are behind us 100%. That’s priceless.

#10) Focus On What You Can Do For Others, Not What They Can Do For You
When you’re focusing on others, you’re not focusing on yourself. This can be freeing. There are too many people out there with hidden agendas who are always “lights-on” in an attempt to intellectually con the world. This is never going to lead to an authentic life. Instead of focusing on how the world will take care of you or how others can boost you up the ladder, redirect your attention on what you can do for them without expanding your limits. This makes people feel much more comfortable because they know your actions are from a genuine place. The likely result is them wanting to help you instead. Real generosity is contagious. 



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