9 Steps to a Happier Life

I probably should have titled this 9  choices that have made a profound impact on my life.  My acerbic humor leads me to author a lot of cynical diatribes. But it’s important to take stock of beautiful things. I  figured this was stuff worth sharing. At any rate, here goes:

  1. I significantly trimmed down my friends list on Facebook.  At one point, I had 5000 friends on the social network. Collecting friends on FB was a manifestation of my insecurity. On a subconscious level, I thought, “I can’t be all that bad if all these people on Facebook want to be my friend.” Then I noticed that none of my real-life friends wanted to comment on my updates because I was writing for an audience of strangers. One by one, I removed people from my list. I’m currently down to 198 FB pals who are ACTUALLY my FRIENDS.
  2. A year ago, I started saving for a down payment on a home. I can’t believe how much money I’ve already tucked away. I feel so fortunate that my parents paid off my student loan. I would never have been able to be in my current financial situation without their help. My mom’s generosity, in particular, has radically altered the trajectory of my life.
  3. I was diagnosed with OCD. I’ve intermittently experienced OCD throughout most of my life but never realized I suffered from the disease because my iteration of the illness isn’t the kind that’s been dramatized in films like “As Good as It Gets” and TV shows like “Hoarders.” I experienced a pretty bad breakdown in August of 2012, which forced me to seek treatment and recognize that I do, in fact, have OCD. I’m now relatively symptom-free and no long paralyzed by the threat of OCD returning. Now I have the tools to combat the disorder. That sense of empowerment feels pretty awesome.
  4. When drama emerges, I now disengage. I endured horrific bouts of anti-gay bullying when I was a kid. This history of abuse has made it hard for me to turn the other cheek when I perceive people are attacking me. For most of my adult life, I have felt compelled to stick up for the terrified little boy inside of me who turned the other cheek when brutalized. This defense mechanism has worked to my detriment. I’ve had a hard time brushing off even the most inconsequential and anonymous putdown on Twitter. About a year ago, I got into a silly but upsetting Twitter feud that made me recognize the control I give to people intent on misinterpreting and/or hurting me. Cognitive-behavioral therapy has been particularly instrumental in helping me, for lack of better words, let go and make no investment in anyone’s ill will.
  5. I am completely in love with my boyfriend. I spent most of my life afraid of a real relationship, the kind where you have to trust somebody with your heart and make yourself vulnerable. As cliché as it sounds, my boyfriend makes me want to be the best possible version of myself that I can be. There are times I have to pinch myself because I can’t believe all those years of waiting for the right guy finally paid off. He’s better than my best dream of a fellow.
  6. After OCD drove me a little bonkers, I significantly decreased my level of alcohol consumption. After getting blackout drunk at least two times a week for most of my adult life, this year’s sobriety (without being a “sober person”) has opened my eyes to the world. Not drinking has let me experience AND ENJOY camping, hiking, game nights with friends, and skiing. A year ago, I would have felt like I was missing out if I didn’t go out on a Friday or Saturday night. Now, I can’t imagine what I ever saw in partying every weekend. In the last year, I’ve gone out drinking maybe 5 times. I feel so much more alive.
  7. I weigh 160 pounds. This is huge, considering I weighed 115 when I first moved to Los Angeles in 2006.
  8. The single most important decision I made was to excise toxic people from my life. In the last year, I’ve managed to live a drama-free life. No arguments over petty shit. No counseling people through meltdowns. No resentment. I haven’t even raised my voice in a year. When I spy a histrionic person, I walk the other way. When somebody hurts my feelings, I don’t turn the upset into a federal case. I have never been happier with my circle of friends.
  9. I’m kinder to the people I care about, including my mother, friends, colleagues, brother, sister, and students. I assume the best in people I care about rather than the worst. I try to accommodate their needs and wants whenever I can. And if a person close to me doesn’t reciprocate my loyalty and respect, I invest in the ones who will.

And you can, too! 🙂

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