happy personTo simply say–“Life can be TOUGH” is a real understatement at times.

So, I thought I would pass on some classic words of wisdom to my fellow LGBT (and straight) friends to give you all a leg up on finding an abundance of HAPPINESS in your lives and combat those annoying blues! However, expecting life to always be easy is unrealistic, but trying to find a healthy BALANCE of all things is the goal–and key to a happy life. In fact, happiness is often how we choose to look at life and experiences–or our PERCEPTION of things. In other words, our thoughts need to turn more positive than negative–more optimistic than pessimistic–more grateful than complaining.

So, to make it easier I comprised this checklist of all that I have learned through some therapy and ALL my many experiences in this crazy life that I feel made ME a better and happier person. Work on this list and I’m certain you’ll become a better person as well– and one heck of a HAPPY, LGBT CAMPER!!

1) Learn to love yourself

Yes, we’ve all heard this one many, many times before–but do we even know what it means? Well, it simply means to love all the unique qualities about yourself that make you different from others–since we ALL were created so differently, special and unique. Taller, smaller, different sizes and shapes– each one of us is extremely special. Think that your perceived flaws are instead– FLAWLESS! Also, make the effort to change the things that you do NOT like about yourself and that YOU think could use a little bit of work and make you a better, healthier person. But have patience in doing so–especially when it comes to getting rid of bad habits. One of them is putting yourself down or being too hard on yourself. Instead say–“I perhaps should’ve done it differently, now I’ve learned something from it and will move on and grow from it.” But “loving yourself” doesn’t mean becoming a self-centred or a narcissist and not caring a hoot about other people. You must give a damn–especially if you want others to give a damn about you!

2) Learn to love others

Be caring and giving–it fills the soul with joy. Although I am spiritual, I avoid the “Karma” principle only because I believe you should do kind deeds because it is the right thing to do and that it also provides instant joy and satisfaction–not because you will always “get” or “expect” something in return. Volunteer work has always pulled me out of my many woes when I helped those who were in more need than myself. Also, become a good listener and learn to admit when you were wrong and apologize freely–even if you were RIGHT or were simply misunderstood–this at least acknowledges the other person’s feelings. Yes, be the better person–it has its just rewards–and it’s always greatly respected.

3) Be honest with yourself and others

Yes, honesty usually is the best policy for everyone. I mean the occasional white lie about how fab your best friend is working their jeans isn’t going to kill anyone–however, they would probably appreciate the honesty if they look downright terrible in them–wouldn’t you?  Honesty, when it counts, is most important. I have an old saying–

“The truth may cut you, but it’s the lies that scar.”

Most people will appreciate your honesty, however hard it is to take at first–but they can never truly fault you for it. Whereas with lies you simply cannot take them back, and they just destroy any trust you have between each other–and that’s REALLY hard (if not impossible) to get that trust back. So go with your instincts–they are often right! Be honest with yourself when you are seriously looking to fulfil all your needs and desires in life. I’ve always said–“Denial is the devil’s sharpest sword.”

4) Be grateful

In this life we all live there can certainly be times of terrible unfairness–but there are also times filled with many beautiful people and things that surround us on a daily basis. Tap into appreciating the “smaller” things in life and realize how BIG they really are. Be satisfied with the things we often take for granted–our health, family, friends and community. Yes, the best things in life are indeed free–however, NEVER take them for granted–they are true gifts! Focus on all that you HAVE and not what you don’t– and please do not focus on superficial things or material things to make you happy! Oh, that NEVER truly fills up your soul–perhaps if fills up your debts though. Most Centenarians (people over 100) said when asked how they dealt with all the difficulties in life said–

“Be Grateful and Don’t sweat the small stuff–life is way too short!”

I agree–save your energy on the bigger, more important things in life.

5) Come out of the closet

Coming out of the closet can mean different things to different people. I am talking about coming out of the closet to YOURSELF most of all–and then decide if you feel comfortable coming out publically– in a safe environment. Whether you live in a small, bigoted town in the mid-west of America, or a hidden region in Russia, or even a violent village in Africa–just KNOW  in your heart and soul that it is perfectly OK to be Gay (if not–we just told you so!) KNOW that you are NOT ALONE and there is plenty of help for you out there if you actively and carefully seek it. Also KNOW that you are NOT ANY LESS of a person in any way for being gay–and you are truly deserving to be happy. If it is at all possible, try to find LGBT safe havens, hotlines or even trusted family members or friends that can offer you a safe, supportive place to go for help and advice. If possible, try to relocate to another city that is more gay friendly whenever you can–and plan it carefully–but NEVER LOSE HOPE! If you feel there is nowhere or no one to turn to– utilize LGBT Self-Help Books and the internet which has a plethora of LGBT support info and hotlines to help carry you through–so utilize them! Don’t become a recluse and bury your feelings–it leads to depression–which is a mixture of anger, frustration and hurt turned inward. Remember, happiness first starts from WITHIN and grows from there! Hey, you’ll always have your friends over here @ Curve mag. to keep your spirits and interests high or to provide you with some good advice or resources on our “Advice” and “Coming Out” sections.

6) Stop yelling and keep your cool babe

Couples often get into a bit of a bickering habit–sort of a nasty sport of battling egos–with no real winners. No, you will not lose your pride–but actually, GAIN it! By all means, you MUST stand up for yourself, but more in a calm, civil–and MATURE manner. Yelling and screaming is terrible for the soul of anyone –especially for children, and it accomplishes nothing but heartache. It eats happiness away and it is the most futile way of getting your point across. Yelling is another form of frustration–take a few deep breaths and commit to speaking calmly to your mate or even to others that upset you from now ON, regardless of THEIR yelling at you, and you will see you will have so much more to gain–PEACE for one thing–and it’s a real pleasant sound. Then ask the other party to join you on this new PEACEFUL quest of handling things.

Article to be Continued—Be sure to follow all 20 great tips in parts 2 and 3 coming soon!!