I’ll say it: The past few years have been a fucking nightmare.
The climate in this country – and, arguably, the world – is so volatile that it’s a wonder any of us get a good night’s sleep. I find myself angry, negative and depressed for no good reason, but at the end of the day how much does any of the shit we put ourselves through really matter?
After a lot of reflection, I’ve come to realize that it doesn’t. None of it. Not a single thing impeding your or my happiness is worth what we’re feeding it. So why not stop? I am – starting now. Here’s how I’m snatching back my happiness in 2019.
1. Allowing myself to be proud of me
My grandmother – the one who disowned me for being gay – used to talk a lot about the importance of humility. In fact, she prosthelytized the importance of many “Christian” ideals, but rarely exercised them herself, especially where love and acceptance is concerned. And that’s the primary problem with people trying to teach you to be you: They have no goddamn idea what they’re talking about.
As a result, I grew up being ashamed of who I was while not allowing myself to celebrate the growth and progress I make as a human being every day. But that stops here. I have so much to be proud of as not only a man but a gay man. I’m young(ish), successful, blessed in so many ways, and I’ve done all my adulting on my own. That deserves a big pat on the back – and I’m giving it to myself this year.
2. Not giving into short-term gratification
I love shopping. If we’re hunting for clothing and home-good bargains, I’m there in a jif. But it’s an expensive habit to maintain. I update my wardrobe and add décor to my homes more often than I’d like to admit (even though my bank account serves as a constant reminder), but I’ve recently made a resolution that nothing new comes through these doors for the entire year.
How will I do that? I’ve started by cutting up credit cards and unsubscribing from every marketing email that has landed in my inbox since January 1. It’s a virtual ghost town in there these days.
The next phase is to start editing my closets and my homes for items I can sell to help reach my New Year’s saving resolution, which this year is in the double-digit thousands – all cash in hand. It’s lofty, but I’m determined – and that’s all the motivation I need.
3. Downsizing my entire life
I’ll start selling my material possessions this year because I don’t need them where I’m going. My long-term goal for 2019 is to unload all my real estate, purchase a van that’s suitable for daily life, and hit the road.
As I’ve sat in my properties – alone – for the past few years, I’ve had plenty of time to think, and the question I keep coming back to is, what the hell are you doing here? The answer is nothing. I’m doing nothing where I am but wasting the time I could be spending out there in the world experiencing life instead of literally watching it pass me by.
It’s a major change that’ll signify the start of the second half of my life story, but I eat challenges like this for breakfast.
4. Cutting out alcohol so I can remember what I’m really like
Many people have a difficult relationship with alcohol, myself included. And as I reflect on the over 20 years that I’ve allowed alcohol to ruin relationships, squander opportunities, and otherwise fuck me up physically, mentally and emotionally, I have to consider the alternative.
So beginning at the top of the year, I decided to live alcohol free until April 1. That’s not the date when I’ll start drinking again, but rather a date that gives me enough time to clear my head, concentrate on my fitness goals, and then weigh my options. Will I be the better person I want to be, or am I a dick when sober too? Time will tell.
5. Finding more people who raise my spirits
I don’t like to put down our own LGBTQ community, but we can be real bitches to one another. It’s not just us, though. There are so many people out there who are committed to infecting everyone around them with their negativity that I sometimes dread leaving the house.
Everybody has an attitude these days, and for what? Who knows, but I’m canceling all my dates with those downers and only giving time to people who make me feel good about myself. Thank you, next.
6. Avoiding as much political media as I can
I’m turning off the TV, changing the settings on the news I receive, and avoiding all political debates on social media. It’ll drive you fucking nuts if you give into it, and we can’t let the trolls control us. Look the other way and have nothing to say is my new motto. It’s everybody for themselves out there.
7. Practicing more self-care
More hot baths, facials, massages, meditation, gym classes, yoga, (safe) sex, and whatever else makes my mind and body feel like I deserve this. Because I do.
8. Refusing to do anything I don’t want to do
I’m already very good at saying no, but I have a conscience and I sometimes feel bad when I’m direct with someone who’s kind. I don’t want to hurt their feelings, but I’m also not willing to engage in situations that bore me or make me uncomfortable or that cost me money I don’t want to spend. Thank you for asking, but I’m politely declining, perhaps for eternity. I don’t owe you an answer why either.
Get out there and snatch back your happiness this year too, friends. Clock’s ticking.
Mikey Rox is an award-winning journalist and LGBT lifestyle expert whose work has been published in more than 100 outlets across the world. He spends his time writing from the beach with his dog Jaxon. Connect with Mikey on Instagram @mikeyrox