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A healthy, happy New Year
A healthy, happy New Year
by Michael Raitt - SGN Contributing Writer

The New Year is upon us and for many of us it is a time of reflection and looking forward. I'd like to offer some thoughts about looking forward to the New Year.

Here is a metaphor I recently heard about that I like: climate and weather. Climate is the overall trend and weather is about systems that come in and go out. Our lives are like that. Our overall disposition is like climate and the events that come in and out of our lives are like the weather. Some of us have a generally positive disposition while others of us have a negative outlook on life (climate). All of us have events in our lives that are sometimes stormy and other times pleasant (weather). The first thing to remember when looking to the New Year is that life will have its ups and downs - those are unavoidable. It is how we generally feel and how we handle these ups and downs that is important. Of course, most of us want to generally feel happy and successful in our lives.

When looking forward into the New Year, reflect upon how some of your behaviors may provide insight as to how you feel about parts of yourself. If you are engaging in behaviors or have circumstances in your life that do not contribute to your overall happiness, sense of well-being and success, consider making goals to change those behaviors and beliefs.

In achieving that overall sense of happiness and success, it is important to set goals. In setting goals, remember that accomplishing them comes in stages. Take the time to acknowledge these stages and celebrate them. When you look at the small accomplishments, it gives you energy and interest to continue to pursue the larger goal(s).

Keeping your goal(s) in mind - and remembering that reaching your goal(s) comes in stages - set priorities in your day-to-day life that are related to, and support, your goal(s). For example, in a relationship, if you and your partner want "better communication," make that a priority every day and practice it. You may have to alter your routine a bit to make sure the two of you can get together to talk. Acknowledge it when the interaction goes well. This process applies to all areas of life - both personal and professional.

Don't fear change and growth. Become, "fear-less" in the face of change and growth. "Fear-less" means having less fear. Most of us are hesitant about making changes and often look at growth as being painful. Although true in some circumstances, it is not good when we get stuck in fear and don't move towards what we want in our lives.

It is always important to remember the impact we have in others' lives. Sometimes when circumstances in one area of our life are stormy, remembering that we are a good friend/partner/child/citizen/parent can bring us back to that sense of happiness and success. Also focus on the impact that others have in your life. Fostering rich, rewarding relationships at all levels is important and really helps us feel good. Never underestimate the influence you have in another's life when you share a smile, say "hello," or develop a nice friendship with someone.

Here are some points that will support you in achieving your goal(s) for the New Year:

Identify and set healthy boundaries with work, friends, family, partner
Adopt and promote a positive self-image as a LGBT individual
Surround yourself with people that bring you joy and who challenge you
Do not tolerate people who intentionally inflict psychological and/or physical pain on you
Be patient and active regarding your goals
Engage in activities, hobbies, and thinking that bring you enjoyment and reward
Embrace the idea that the way we think will influence the life we lead and whether we reach our goal(s) or not. I am a firm believer in the idea that "We don't get what we want, we get what we believe." Some people want things yet believe they will never happen. It is those who both want and believe that usually have the lives they've envisioned.

I would like to thank all of you who have written me and provided your stories, experiences, and knowledge in hopes that it will be of benefit to others. I would like to wish each and every one of you best wishes and every happiness and success in the New Year.

Michael Raitt, MA LMHC, writes a bi-monthly column in the SGN. If you would like to comment on this column, ask a question you'd like him to write about, or suggest another topic of interest, please contact him at askingmichael@comcast.net .

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