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C'mon, Get Happy!

C'mon, Get Happy!


'Will I ever be happy?' That's a question I often hear, and it has a special meaning for those of us living with HIV, especially the men and women who've been fighting exhausting battles against the disease for several years. For too many of us, being HIV-positivemeant struggling every day just to stay alive. Happiness wasn't even on the radar screen. But we have experienced incredible progress in HIV treatment, and what was once a bleak future is now one filled with all kinds of possibilities. In a way, when you think about how far we've come from those days when survival was our overriding concern, the desire for happiness truly is a gift. And that's something to celebrate! So if you find yourself asking the 'happy' question, I encourage you to think of the desire for happiness not as a sign of what's bad or missing in your life but as a voice inside you that's saying, 'It's time to have more.' And then, get moving. 1) Start by telling yourself that you don't have to settle. Still have that voice of Mom or Dad telling you to stop complaining and be happy with what you've got? If you're giving in to this, you might be your own worst enemy when it comes to your happiness. Tell yourself that you have the right to grab all that life has to offer. This is the beginning of figuring out what it's going to take to get what you want. 2) Recognize the moments of joy that each day brings. True happiness doesn't hit like a lightning bolt or a million-dollar lottery jackpot. Life is full of smaller pleasures, like enjoying beautiful weather, checking in with someone you care about, or taking time to do something you enjoy. Being conscious of life's little joys can take you a long way to feeling happier. 3) Write down what's bothering you, and then rewrite it. Is there something on your mind that's making you unhappy? Ask yourself, 'Do I have any control over this situation?' If the answer is yes, determine what you can do to change it. If the answer is no, it's time to stop beating yourself up and move on. 4) Ignore the 'minuses' column. Stop thinking about happiness in terms of things you don't have. Lose the pessimism; focus on what's in your 'pluses' column'and how you can add to it. 5) Set priorities. Make a list of what you want from your life in terms of relationships, financial security, healthy living, and more. Then decide which of those goals to tackle first. (You might want to talk to a mental health professional to help you get started.) The bottom line is that your happiness is in your hands. Open up to your own potential and celebrate. You'll be glad you did. McClain is a licensed counselor in New York City with a specialty in coping with chronic and life-threatening health conditions. His books include The Complete Idiot's Guide to Breaking Bad Habits and Empowering Your Life With Joy, and he is a frequent contributor to health-related publications.

Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Fellow Travelers & Jamie Lee Curtis

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