Through all the years of growing up, I tried hard to be a positive person. Like with most of you out there, life has not always been easy, and at times that was very challenging. But more than that, I learned that there is a difference between being a positive person and pretending I am always happy to please other people.
My childhood was when I went through some of the most difficult times. I was constantly in a mind game with myself to try and focus my thoughts on being happy even though what was going on around me and in my own head felt like the complete opposite. In the fifth grade, I was given the nickname “Smiley,” as I always had a big smile on my face. I was showing everyone my happy exterior, but on the inside I battled with my confidence, sense of self, and knowing that I was just different from the other boys in my class.
As the years went on and I got older, I continued to hide my true feelings even more. One of the many reasons was that I did not completely understand what was going on in my own mind. Coming to terms with being gay and finding your own identity is not the easiest thing to do. You go through all kinds of emotions including the back-and-forth denial and the feeling that something is wrong with you. At such an early age when you feel different, you feel vulnerable. And when you feel vulnerable, you don’t feel safe. It is not a good place to be in.
Part of me also had an issue with telling my parents and other relatives what was going on because I did not want to disappoint them, and I did not want to bring what I thought was extra “problems” onto them. It was almost like I wanted to show them that I was always happy so they did not have to be concerned or deal with any extra worry.
I have since realized that I was very much what they call a people pleaser. Making sure others were feeling happy over my own emotions was very much a part of my make up. One small example I remember during junior high was when my grandfather gave me a cool new jacket, which I wore to school the following day. One of the older kids in a higher grade came up to me and asked if he could wear it that entire day. Part of me was probably scared of what he would do if I had said no, but the other part did not even think to not say no. I gave him my jacket. I felt like such a fool, so weak and deflated after doing that.
This may resonate with some of you, especially if you have a tough time expressing how you really feel or doing what you really want to do. Perhaps that is because you don’t want to hurt other people, or you want other people to be in a good mood, even if that affects you negatively. This carried on with me, even when I was older and working at E! News. I was so serious and focused on making my boss happy in any way that I could, that it consumed every last bit of me. It made me feel like I was excelling in my career to one degree but, at the same time, it was draining me.
During this time, one of my dear friends at E! asked me during our work day if I could run with him quickly to grab a cup coffee. I remember thinking he was crazy and kindly telling him I did not have the time. He looked at me straight in the eyes and basically told me that “I needed to get a life,” as everybody is allowed to get a break from time to time. I was so hard on myself and engulfed in being overly available at work that taking time to grab coffee seemed like a luxury. His words really stuck with me, and I began to reflect about the way I was thinking.
I started to ask myself, “What do I want?” “How do I feel?” “What do I deserve?” That was when I came to a crossroad in my life and made the decision to change. Since then, I have realized that it is so important to take your own feelings into consideration and speak up no matter what the circumstance.
I don’t know why it took me so long to find my own voice, but it feels so good to say what you mean and mean what you say. The first few times I was able to say, “No, thank you,” to something I did not really want to do felt incredibly liberating. Now, I am very conscious of my feelings and very aware of the difference between being a positive person and pretending everything is OK when it’s not. I now live with the mission that “yes” really does mean yes, and “no” really does means no. It is that simple.
If you find it difficult to speak your mind or feel pressured into making a decision, please know that it is always appropriate to take time to digest your own thoughts and feelings before giving an answer. Whether it is something as small as committing to weekend plans, or something big like what the next move you want to make in a relationship or career is, always be aware that you are in control. You are the owner of your words, and nobody is allowed to take that from you.
I have been really open about my sexuality in my writing and on the E! Television shows I starred in. As an adult, it is very freeing for me to be my authentic self as much as possible—especially on such a public platform. I believe there is no way of truly connecting with people unless you are able to let your guard and ego down. You’d be surprised how much that does not happen in reality television or in Hollywood in general.
With that said, as a young boy I was not always able to be my true self. Part of that had to do with the path of just growing up and figuring out myself. Yep, all a part of life that I am sure every single one of us goes through. There were the obvious society mind blocks and the outside noise that teaches how you “should be” and how you “should act.” Whether that is from parents, religion, the media, social media, television shows, etc., there is a general influence on young people and how they should think. All can be very confusing for anyone questioning themselves or trying to understand their sexuality for that matter.
For years, I fought against the “you should act like” and this is what “normal is” remarks. It was a mental battle I eventually won.I pray for the kids that commit suicide or that are bullied for being gay. I pray for the LGBT men and women in countries where they are brutally attacked, killed with no law to protect them.
When the Supreme Court gay marriage ruling was announced recently, I had a moment where tears rushed down my face. It was an overwhelming sense of joy, gratitude for the leaders in the LGBT community that fought so hard and the powerful feeling of acceptance for not just my boyfriend and I, but for the younger generation who will have a somewhat easier road ahead of them. History was made that day. Sadly, there was also some backlash from people. I expected that, but not from somebody I am related to. A very distant cousin (key word: very) wrote a hateful comment on my Facebook wall. It not only shocked me, it completely disappointed other family members, especially my super supportive parents.
What bothered me the most was that it felt like a direct attack on me. Then, I started to question why this cousin would do such a heartless act. Why did she not keep her opinion to herself? What was her intent, and why did she feel it was necessary to add negativity to such a historic day? Was she coming at me from a political view or a religious view? Why the hate?
It got me thinking about how much of our views are instilled in us at a very early age and how that shapes so much of who we become to a certain degree. This family member I am speaking of comes from a whole other older generation. Much of what she knows is from a very small bubble. Perhaps, her view of God is different from mine. Perhaps, she is expressing her rights just as much as I am expressing mine. There is one massive difference. My God, comes from a different place. My connection with God comes from a place of no judgment, compassion, love and the clear fact we are all created equal and should be treated equal. That is what I believe in.
So who do I pray to?
The God that I know accepts me, accepts you, accepts each and every one of us.
Religion and spirituality have always fascinated me. I have vivid memories of early grade Catholic School. The nuns, the religious lessons, going to mass, the teachings of Jesus and how can I ever forget the uniforms. The Catholic religion was introduced to me at an early age, and I was baptized, went to church, had my Holy Communion, etc.
The older I became though, and the more I learned about what being gay meant, including that it was not accepted in the Catholic church, it all confused the heck out of me. This is all on top of being called a faggot on the playground. Can you imagine what I was thinking?
There were many areas in the Catholic religion that didn’t make sense to me. Why did such a holy place that preached about loving thy neighbor not accept all neighbors who practice kindness and are genuinely good people that give back to the world and believe in God?
Later on in my life, and before I came out of the closet, one of the many things that helped guide me was tapping into my own relationship with God outside of the Catholic church’s walls. The more in tune I became with who I was, the stronger the faith within myself grew. There is something so powerful you experience when you not only accept yourself but also accept that there is a higher power who accepts you too. I stopped focusing on what society and religion had taught me, and rather what I knew about the God I prayed to at night.
It brought me peace and a stronger connection to my own spirituality.
I live a life with love in my heart and a God on my side.
Yes, I was born gay. Yes, God loves me.
Today is Monday and it is going to be wonderful. Uh-oh. Did I already lose your attention? Please allow me to elaborate. You see, I told myself last night that today was going to be a really great day, one of the best days of the entire week. No, it is not my birthday or a national holiday, just your usual ol’ Monday sitting center stage waiting for you to give it some applause.
Call me crazy, but I have to say that Monday has a really bad rap. Of all the days of the week, it is the one day that gets the most negativity. I believe there are ways to turn that around so you have a more productive Monday and a more energetic week.
You see, Mondays were not always my favorite day either. I used to wish there was some magically added extra day between Sunday and Monday. Or, when three-day weekends rolled around, I would think that I had died and gone to the best week heaven. Not having to face that dreadful Monday morning always sounded so delicious to me. Then I got to thinking, would we all feel the same way about Tuesday if Monday turned into a day off? Are we automatically programmed to be unhappy when it comes to starting a new week? There has to be something underneath why so many people wish Monday would just go away.
A while ago, I decided to challenge myself, the way I thought about starting a new week and the way I looked at Monday. To be honest, a lot of my negative thinking had to do with my job. For me, changing where I worked had much to do with my motivation and outlook. A dear friend once told me, “You have to love two things in life: Your mattress and your job, because that is where you spend the most time.” I had gotten the mattress part down, but I was destined to reinvent my career. I know that changing jobs is a big deal, but I discovered the more I enjoyed what I did at work, the easier it was for me to jump feet first into Monday. However, transitioning into a new position (that you love!) takes time, so I started to make simple changes in my everyday life that helped boost me to have a healthier and stronger mindset on Monday.
Here are a few helpful tips on how to rewire your brain and start thinking of Monday as more of a kick start than a slow start.
Turn Up The Tunes
Let’s begin with that morning drive to work. If you live in a metropolitan area like LA, New York, Boston or Philly, then I am probably singing to your choir. Traffic is the absolute worst and can really drain a person’s energy. Definitely not the best way to start off your day. Unfortunately, we have to come to peace that rush hour traffic is not ever going to change. Everyone has a place to be, and the roads are not going to suddenly widen and make room for all the other cars. Don’t engage in what you can’t control. Traffic is not going anywhere. Instead of transforming into a road rage monster, why don’t you preplan your bumper-to-bumper experience by organizing a custom feel good playlist? Did you know that singing to your favorite tunes boosts endorphins?
Add Kindness To Your Coffee
If you get an early start to your Monday, stop at your favorite coffee or tea hot spot. Treating yourself to a specially brewed pot of Joe will give you a reward at the wee hours of the morning. A once-a-week gift to yourself won’t break the bank either. See, you are already off to the right start. I also suggest going inside the actual shop rather than a drive thru so you can engage with a barista or other customers in line. Exchanging some kind of smile or friendly dialogue will add an extra shot of happy energy to your day. You will be surprised how nice it feels when you hold the door open for somebody, say “How are you?” and wait for an answer, or even allow yourself time to sit for a moment to relax and actually taste your coffee. A few minutes of “meditation” in this way has never hurt anyone before.
Stop The Complaining
I continue to have a love/not-so-love relationship with Facebook as I’ve lately found it to be a sounding board for complainers. There is so much negativity running through people’s Facebook feeds it is nuts! If you are one of those people who must log on to the social network site as soon as you get to work (I don’t recommend that), than why don’t you post something with a more positive message? Writing something like, “Ugh. I wish I was still in bed” or “This weekend was not long enough” has a negative and un-motivating vibration to it. It not only sends out a lackluster update to your “friends” that you sort of hate your life, and a signal to your mind that you are in the dumps. What I’ve done is unfollowed people who enjoy sharing their misery and rather used social media as a tool to get more encouraging messages. You know that saying, “You are who you hang out with?” Well, we might as add: “You are who you follow” to that too.
Wear Your Favorite Outfit
Ladies and gentleman this is one of my favorite tips. I know I will get some eye rolls for this one but please hear me out. Save your best outfit for Monday. It will help you feel more confident (along with showing your coworkers you have a brilliant sense of style) and will make those Monday blues feel like last season. A killer outfit makes us feel good. When we look good, we feel good and there is no better day to show off that fashionably goodness than Monday.
Change Up Your Co-Worker Conversation
Listen, there is typically one Debbie Downer in every office. Try not to engage in conversation with that person. The typical question most people get on a Monday morning from their near by coworkers is, “How was your weekend?” Most often, people ask that question as a standard way of politeness, but there are those few who use it as a gateway question so they can respond with all their personal drama. Avoid engaging in a low energy dialogue that is going to take your AM high to a zero. Monday back at work should be fueled with drive, determination, optimism and a willingness to succeed.
Not every day is going to be perfect, but I am not asking for perfect. I challenge you to start this Monday off with a more positive bang so you allow yourself to maneuver through the week with clarity, control and consistency.
From me to you – Have an awesome day! I know you will!!
I am a sucker when it comes to Valentine’s Day. Please forgive me for loving a day that is filled with chocolate heart boxes, cupid shaped cards, and stunning red roses. The balloons, the candlelit dinners, the lovey-dovey messages… it all totally gets my heart beating. I can fully admit that I turn to utter mush when it comes to anything romance. Romance is my kryptonite, and it always has been.
For all you single peeps out there, let me first stop you from clicking to another article or turning your eyes to something else on the Internet. I can help you out. Please allow me to inspire you with a small dose of my “gay best friend” words of wisdom for a moment. You see, I clearly know that Valentine’s Day is not all about that fluffy pink and red commercial stuff, and if you read up on the history regarding this holiday, than you will understand that the overall essence is derived from the celebration of love. So, whether you are newly single, recently-dumped, divorced, widowed, or not looking for love, I am here to tell you there is an “A-ha light bulb” lesson to be learned from Valentine’s Day and the way you react to it.
As I’ve mentioned, for those of you out there that are not locked up in a relationship, please know my goal is to not turn you off. That is actually quite the contrary, as my wish for you this Valentine’s Day is to open your mind to the greater picture and why responding negatively when February 14th rolls around is not doing you any favors.
I’ve obviously been alone on Valentine’s Day before (we’ve all been there), and it is not “the best” feeling in the world. I completely understand how you would not be jumping out of bed with the sudden urge to shout your happiness from the tallest mountaintop. I am not asking you to do that or overexert yourself into making this pro-couple date your favorite day of the year. However, over time I have noticed that a lot of people go out of their way to hate on it. You’ve seen those not-so-nice Facebook posts, the snarky articles, cheeky Instagram quotes, and probably know of a few family members and friends that absolutely despise Valentine’s Day. I believe that changing your reaction and emotion into a more civilly compassionate mindset will reflect a higher feeling of positive energy from within yourself and into your everyday life.
Take a peak at a few insightful tips on how being a hater on this holiday is not the right attitude or helping your path to having a healthy relationship of your own.
Complaining Gets You Nowhere
Bitter Betty’s party of one? Your table is ready. What is moaning and complaining going to do or change in making your Valentine’s Day any better? Saying “I’m single once again this year” is consciously sending a signal to your brain to feel depressed. Instead of concentrating on what you don’t have (like a significant other), why not affirm that you woke up healthy, with a job, friends, family and a purpose for life. You know that famous quote, “Gratitude turns what you have into enough…” well post it on your bathroom mirror that day. Having gratitude for the areas of your life that are working out great should be a given. A partner to share them with only heightens that feeling of gratitude. So, for right now replace your complaining with being grateful.
Don’t Hate on Happiness
If seeing other couples happy makes you ill, then you’ve got a bigger problem than just Valentine’s Day. Being jealous, envious, and giving the evil eye to other people for being in a relationship shows that you have some kind of anger issue to conquer. You should want to see other people in happy situations.
Truly, grounded people only wish goodness for others. Besides, relationships and marriage is a whole other job. Instead of hating on them, why not give them an imaginary “thumbs up” for finding each other and making it work. You may be surprised by how your mind feels when you say, “Good for them!” to “Ugh, get a room!”
Avoid the “Why Not Me?” Questions
True love really rocks, and I think everyone deserves to experience the feeling of it. If you are asking yourself, “Why am I single?” I challenge you to ask yourself, “Am I happy?” instead. People are attracted to happiness and success. And by success, I mean living a life where you feel fulfilled and that you have a sense of purpose. People pick up on that emotion. So, if there is something that is bringing you down in life, why not first concentrate on changing that. That situation may be what is subconsciously pulling you away from expressing and showing that you are at a point of peace in your life. In order to accept love into your life, you need to actually love what is happening in your daily life.
Don’t Give Up
If you are a real believer in love, then don’t make Valentine’s Day be about “not having” someone. If you are receptive and open to being in love, than you will have it one day. It is not about “finding” it, it is about love coming into your life at the right moment. Don’t allow outside negativity to cloud your belief and dreams when it comes to loving another person. If you want it, if you are ready for it, it will enter your life.
I am going to close this article with something my boyfriend and I will be thinking about this Valentines Day as it truly captures the hearts of many people. This year was historic for America. After the Supreme Court Ruling on marriage equality this summer, it allowed for each and everyone one of us to celebrate love legally. Think about how special this Valentine’s Day is going to be for so many people this year. Whether married or not, they can now celebrate each other more openly. For those couples that never felt recognized or validated in years past, I hope you make this Valentine’s Day the most loving yet!
And, for everyone else out there that wants love in their life, please never stop believing in love. I hope your perspective on Valentine’s Day is seen as not just a couple’s holiday, but as a day where the power of love is celebrated.
In February, my boyfriend Nick’s grandmother died. The grieving is still harboring in our thoughts, the sound of her voice in our heads and the memory of her laying in her hospital bed still fresh in our minds. “Grandma” was very special to Nick and his family. She was also a very holy woman who had a passion for life along with a colorful sense of humor that could put a smile on your face in a matter of minutes.
Shortly before she went into the hospital—and following the death of her husband of 58 years—she made the decision to travel and see Nick and I in Los Angeles. It would have been her first vacation and flight since 1986. It felt like the biggest honor to have her choose to come see us first. We could not wait to have her in our home and show her around Hollywood. With Nick’s mom Mary in tow, the two lovely ladies were Los Angeles bound for a week of fun in the Southern California sun.
It was the first time I met Grandma and was introduced as Nick’s boyfriend, which was a special moment for Nick as he always had a sense of nervousness around telling his grandparents about us. To his ease, Grandma was not only accepting and showed such unconditional love, but she also was a firm believer that God never judged. Grandma treated us like any other couple and loved seeing how much we cared for each other. Her overall trip to LA was wonderful and filled with lots of laughs and memories, especially driving her to see the Pacific Ocean and hitting up some of Beverly Hills’ most famous bakeries. Grandma had a huge sweet tooth, which we all appreciated very much.
Many months after Grandma’s visit, she went in for a suggested heart surgery, which was supposed to help with her shortness of breath and boost her energy. Unfortunately, Grandma had two strokes during surgery. This was a massive devastation to Nick and his family as Grandma became immobile.
Seeing her not being able to drive, walk or go as she pleased was heart wrenching. It broke us down seeing Grandma lose her freedom. Once news of her stroke came, Nick and I booked a flight to Chicago so we could visit with her in the hospital. Grandma laid in her hospital bed with all kinds of different machines around her. It was a different sight than seeing her walk with a big smile in California.
She did not remember anything about the stroke or surgery but was aware something bad had happened. While we were sitting around her, a doctor came into the room and asked who all these people were, she smiled and said, “That is my daughter, Mary, my grandson Nick and my grandson Matt.” That made my heart so happy. Grandma was still so proud to tell everyone in the hospital that we came in from Los Angeles to see her and nicknamed us the “Sunshine Boys.” Before we traveled back home, she told us we brought light wherever we went.
Less than a year later, Grandma eventually passed on. We had gotten to see her a few times since she was in the hospital, but each visit we could see her spirit was getting ready to go. Her charm and contagious smile was there until the very end, and she never once complained about her situation. Not once. She was the prime example of a fighter and held on through the holidays. A big part of us had a sense of peace in her passing knowing that she was going to be met by her late husband on the other side. They could be free together, reunited as one. They had such a loving relationship that Nick and I admired and continue to strive for – that old-fashioned, long lasting love.
Matt Jacobi GrandmothersRecently, I went home to Arizona to see my own grandma, Clare DeAgostine, who we call “Nanny.” If you asked all 7 of her children, 13 grandchildren and 2 great-great children about what Nanny is like, they would all say she is the nicest woman you will ever meet. Being in her presence is always eventful, and she has the magic to make you feel like the most special person in the room. One of the many things I am so thankful for that Nanny has given me is the belief that all love is love and equal in her eyes. She led the way in showing her support for gay rights and equality in our family ever since I can remember. As a gay person, having that love and acceptance is pure gold.
During our day together, Nanny and I spent time out and about running errands. We got to talking about Nick’s grandma, and how he was feeling. Grandma’s passing put a lot into perspective for me. You never know when somebody close to you is going to leave the Earth. I was very young when my dad’s parents passed on, so the relationship with my Nanny is uniquely close.
While we sat across from each other, she leaned in and said to me, “As much joy Nick’s grandma brought to his life, you must remember that he brought so much into hers.” Those words hit the core of my soul, so much so it made me think and reflect with gratitude. I believe a lesson is to be learned for all of us from what my Nanny said: As much love we think we get from someone else, we must remember we are giving back a lot too.
We never know what we are doing for others. Love is so powerful, the most powerful form of emotion you can possibly feel. When it is bounced back from person to person, the energy of that feeling is indescribable. So, when you have that special bond with someone in your life, whether it is a family member, best friend, mentor or lover, don’t take it for granted. Allow for positivity to feed on positivity and cherish each moment you have with one another.
We all have “sunshine” within us. Choose to use it at its fullest.
June brings many exciting and fun filled activities like pool parties, family BBQ’s, summer holidays and more. One party that will be getting my RSVP is the celebration of Pride Month. I write this to you with the intent not to push any political views or opinions down your throat but to ignite your thinking – especially when it comes to the power of reflection. If you are a believer of true love, inner strength, liberation, and equality for all, than I hope my words shine the brightest light on your day.
You see I am a man that believes reflection is one of our greatest tools. It can get us through the rough patches of life and make us see the gratitude and growth within ourselves. Whenever I am faced with a challenging moment, I find a place of silence in my house, meditate on my thoughts, and think about the bigger picture at hand. What can I learn from? What worked in the past? How have I grown? What can I do to be better? Reflection and gratitude are the names of my game.
Recently, as the early days of June rolled around, I sat on my bed in a state of reflection that led to a mix of emotions. From compassion, thankfulness, happiness and some genuine tears. I was reminded that the one-year anniversary of the marriage equality ruling is just a few weeks away. For me, it meant looking back and honoring the history of the fight for equality and the brave LGBT leaders of our past and present. The ones who started a movement so that young people like myself could live in a country where I can love who I want, be who I am, and celebrate the simple fact that love is love.
This point of reflection was even more significant about a month ago as my fiancé Nick proposed to me! We made it a point to digest not just our own history as a couple but acknowledge our country’s long road to marriage equality and the true freedom fighters that got us there. To all the people who marched, used their voices, set an example, and continued to speak up in the name of love – we salute you. To the politicians who pioneered the revolution of love for equality across our country – we are so deeply grateful.
This beautiful moment reminded me of how helpful reflection can be whether you are celebrating something wonderful or dealing with a life challenge. Taking time to breathe and filter back on where you are now, where you have been, and who helped you along the way will always guide you to gratitude. Our greatest and most historic world leaders all have a unique story of self-growth, struggle, and heartache. The most substantial and most meaningful moments in life never come easy. There have and always will be deep learning takeaways from life’s most monumental times in history. Please don’t forget that.
I encourage you to use your mind as a tool and reflect on your own history. You should do this when life has presented you with the most joyous of moments but also when you are in need of direction and guidance. The powerful magnetic energy between reflection and gratitude is your key to opening up your thoughts and bringing out the root of your happiness. We’ve all heard that putting life into perspective helps us make healthier decisions. That is most certainly true, but it is much more than that. It is about taking accountability and acknowledging to yourself that you have not gotten from point A to point B alone, nor has it been smooth sailing from start to finish. Own your story and the journey you have been on. Find thankfulness for what you learned, what you overcame, who was there, and what pure goodness you are presently surrounded by.
Seeing the rays of light through moments of reflection is what it is all about. Your own history happened for a reason, it is up to you to go back through your previous chapters and remind yourself how lucky you are and what you have learned along the way.
Whether you will be celebrating Pride Month or not, my wish for you is to take pride in your own self, take time to reflect on your own journey and find compassion and respect for the people around you.
Our own individual stories may be unique, and our pages may tell a different tale, but the one word that should keep us all united is love. There is no greater emotion than the love you have for yourself and the love you share with someone else.
Continue to create memories, build on gratitude, and embrace the power of love.
Can we talk about the word “karma” for a moment please? I hear it thrown around quite often when life does not go a certain way, especially when it has to do with another person doing harm to another. You know the saying, “Well, wait until karma comes back to them.” I’ve seen the discussion of karma being posted throughout the social media realm and hear it pop up through casual conversations. I too believe that what comes around goes around, but I think there is a greater lesson to be learned when it comes to understanding and using the word karma.
I have not studied Buddhism or Hinduism in depth but can wrap my brain around the spiritual principle of cause and effect. If you believe that actions and reactions are all related in one big loop, then you too probably have a general idea of what karma means. The saying “karma’s a b*!%h” or wishing that “karma bites a person in the ass” is where we should really take a second to stop and reflect.
Believing in the true essence of karma does not mean to hope somebody else gets a punishment. Karma is about acting on goodness and living life from a pure place (not about expecting anything in return, or hoping someone learns a harmful lesson). Doing well for your own inner peace, the people and world around you, will lead you to living a life of more happiness.
Some people may think that those who seem to have a happier life, have it because they have good karma. Perhaps, but it has more to do with the philosophy of being a grounded person. The more conscious a person is on a daily basis about making more thoughtful decisions, and how they act and engage in a kinder, more giving, more humane and more compassionate fashion, the more fulfilling life will feel for them. Bottom line, creating positive habits will deliver more consistent moments of happiness.
If your intent is to give off negativity on other people, do wrong and express anger, your energy is obviously going to be in a dark place. To be more frank, you are probably going to think your life is in the gutter if you wake up every day with hate in your heart. That is not because you have bad karma. It has to do with the fact that your attitude, your intentions, your morals and your mindset totally suck. Connecting with karma is about acting and expressing higher vibrating words like love, gratitude, hope and joy.
Call it what you will, but karma does not involve wishing ill will upon others and hoping that they get what “they deserve.” If you are a believer of positive energy, than your intent should come from a place of goodness and not hoping karma takes care of things. That is not how karma works, or what it even means. The next time you see the word karma, think about if the person is using it in the right context.
If fate does actually work as one full cycle, you do not want your mind to go off-roading by seeking cosmic revenge on another person. You should rather hope life gets better for that person because with goodness in your corner, your side of the street will always be clear. Remember, truly happy people want to see others succeed, not take them down. It should never be about a sense of payback – more like how can you turn any situation into a way to pay it forward.
Whether you’ve been through a breakup, betrayal or a fight, moving on with a good conscious and a healthy mind will only help you become a stronger person. Chaos is not cute, and we as humans want to live our lives in peace. Unfortunately, those unexpected jolts of “what the heck!” are simply life being life. The key is how you handle it, what you take away from it and how you move on to tomorrow, the next day and the day after that.
To avoid getting into a place where your temper and energy is boiling over, I want you to try looking at any argument or disagreement from a different perspective. It is not about punishing the other person, or wanting to get back at them. Rather, it’s about moving on and connecting back to your center:
First, take a minute to digest. Your first reaction is not always the best reaction. Give yourself a few minutes to take a deep breath or even sleep on it.
Consider the source. Is the person battling it out with you in a good place in his/her life? Are they at your speed in terms of happiness, values, etc.?
Is it worth engaging, or can you cut ties and move on without wasting any of your energy? In the grand scheme of life, is it really worth it?
Try and avoid getting defensive or wanting to retaliate with words.
Is there a whole other issue under the surface that is causing such chaos?
Avoid wishing ill will upon them. If they are in a miserable position, that is their battle to fight – not yours.
If you believe in karma or not, I hope the idea of it encourages you to reflect goodness through your actions, intent and words. You may be surprised to see how much better life can be when you have your spirit, soul, mind and destiny aligned.
I’ve noticed something about young women that has me bothered. I’ll get straight to the chase since you may be wondering why someone like me should be so bugged. Well, first let me say that I have sisters, cousins, nieces, and girl friends that are practically family members to me and when it comes to them – they have my heart. I’ve practically heard it all when it comes to topics such as dating, divorce, and anything and everything that has to do with men and relationships.
You see I’ve been the go-to guy on love advice ever since I was young. Girls in school always gravitated to me when it came to talking about their crushes, and the older I became, the more women continued to share their love stories and wanted my thoughts on what they should do when it came to the man department. From my college lady friends, work colleagues, to even my bosses, I seemed to be the first phone call before and after a date.
Perhaps, this is true for a lot of gay men, but for me, I found that it was not just about listening and being an ear, I found it to be such a mission in wanting to see the women in my life want to make the right decisions and feel more powerful in their own skin. So, when it came to a break up or a bad date, I did not want them to feel like it was actually going to break down their soul. I wanted to inspire them to stand on their own two feet and not allow some crummy date or poor relationship ruin their stride and spirit.
I care a lot about women. I obviously care about all people but I’ve have been very outspoken about women empowerment for a long time. One of the reasons is that the women I’ve had the pleasure of knowing in my life have made some long-lasting impressions on me. Seeing them hurt or go through some type of difficulty really motivates me to go out there and shed nothing but goodness and light around their day.
This brings up an instance with a gal pal I recently connected with: a young girl in her twenties, in school, that had just met a guy out and about at one of the local bars. She was fixated on how he looked, his social media pics, and what he had planned for their first date. When I asked her what she really liked about him, she replied, “He is really nice to me.” That reply basically stopped me in my tracks. I went on to say, “Well, of course he should be nice to you!” “All guys should be nice to you!” The more we engaged in the conversation, the more it opened my eyes to learn that she was not use to guys just being nice and generalized that a lot of her friends thought guys were just a bunch of players. That made me sad, as I know the dating scene is hard enough as it is these days.
There is an app for this, and right-or-left-swipe for that. The courtship factor is long gone, especially with the tidal wave of technology that has taken over the way we communicate. It has not only made the way we interact much different on a normal life basis such as at work, ordering take-out, mail service, transportation, etc., but it has most definitely drowned the dating world. First phone calls have turned into text messages, and really getting to know somebody has turned into social media stalking. So, what is a girl (or a guy for that matter!) to do these days when wanting to seek out true love?
I think a lot of it starts with learning what she does and does not want in a relationship. The whole “loving your self first” is not new advice. That has already been written about for years. It’s important for a woman to truly understand who she is, what are her goals, values, and most importantly, be fully aware that she deserves R-E-S-P-E-C-T.
Sticking to that mindset is what will firmly set up her dating boundaries. She should also go into the date with a solid line of how she should be treated. This will not only give her a dating filter, but will also show the guy she knows who she is, what she wants and what she will allow to enter into her life. The self-esteem factor is important, but that develops even more through life (for both men and women). Owning that conviction of personal boundaries will help weed out any bad eggs and focus her eye more quickly to catch the red flags of dating.
These red flags such as a guy saying something inappropriate, crossing the line with a tease to get your attention, flirting with another girl, or being too into the nightlife scene, are often over looked. Why? Many times it has to do with a girl not knowing what she deserves. You see, in many cases, we only know what we know, and a lot of what we know about relationships comes from our childhood. How did your dad treat your mom? How did your mom treat your dad? Was the example of what you knew of a relationship to be a toxic and dysfunctional one, or was there a strong level of dignity and respect?
So, before you jump into the land of love or consider getting into a relationship, I want you to think about these points:
Are you fully aware and understand what is considered to be a healthy relationship?
Do you know that you deserve a healthy relationship and won’t settle for anything less than that?
When you notice a couple red flags from the very beginning that means those red flags are not ever going to go away, and you need to walk away.
Do you know what you want out of a relationship? What does that relationship look like to you?
Are you comfortable with keeping up your personal boundaries even in the name of the dating game?
Do not hide beneath the technology blanket. Understand that the more you communicate verbally and in person will only allow you to better understand a guy’s intent, character and personality.
Are you own goals and platform intact? Do you have drive in other areas of your life?
Being respected and treated with kindness should be an absolute given!
You deserve nothing but the best when it comes to love. Who you allow to share your life with you should be just as wonderful as you are. The truest soul and love connection is based on the utmost respect you have for one another.
Here is the thing: I am not crazy about early mornings, but I really love waking up to a warm cup of coffee especially when it’s handed to me by my boyfriend. I know that sounds like a sentence from a Nicholas Sparks novel, but it is something that really ignites and kicks off my morning into a positive place.
What makes this cup of coffee even more delicious is when he says, “Here is the best tasting cup of coffee in the world.” Now, he is no barista in the kitchen. I would actually say the kitchen is not really his friend. But when he adds positive words like “the best tasting,” it not only excites me but makes me feel like I am really going to enjoy the greatest cup of coffee on the planet. That happy energy and simple uplifting exchange is something that puts a smile on my face before I dive into my workday.
It got me thinking about the words we use in our daily life, and how one or two words can really affect our delivery and the way our brain reacts, thinks and engages with another person or even are own self. If I were to come to you and say, “Have nice day,” does that have or give the same affect as if I were to say, “I hope you have the greatest day, you are going to rock it?”
I find it interesting that it only takes the simplest of changes in our vocabulary or tone of voice to make the biggest change in the way our mind reacts and our attitudes change. Like many of you out there, I am a big believer we have the ability to go from having a challenging moment to having an even brighter and better day by doing small steps following a hiccup or negative experience. Changing your attitude into a sense of pure happiness may seem like a total stretch, especially after a flat tire, work issue, relationship problem or family drama. I get how those conflicts are not easy for some people to do a quick turn around, but if you concentrate on the little aspects of your communication, the way you say things and words you use to yourself and others, then I believe it will allow you the opportunity for a more positive outlook on your day.
Avoid Negative Words & Phrases
For starters, some words that I would avoid using, especially in difficult moments that we may not even be conscious of at the time, include:
with my luck
probably won’t happen
I don’t know but…
It’s words and phrases like these that can actually leave your mind on a desert island of negativity and confusion rather than subconsciously guiding you into a state of confidence, courage and can-do attitude. You should have a more powerful sense of conviction in your words and beliefs such as:
This is what I am going to do
I am going to get through this
What I am going to do next
I can handle this!
This also relates to text messages and emails you write. It can be difficult to tell the tone of an email, but most of the time you should be able to feel out if someone is in a good mood, being short or simply can’t be bothered. I always suggest starting an email with a quick and kind introduction, with a similar ending. Do you begin your emails with, “Good afternoon” or “How are you?” It shows the recipient of your email that you are approaching from a positive place, validating their day and that you have good ol’ fashioned manners. It is easier to make a point in an email or make your feelings noted when you are not on the defense or coming at a person with a harsh vibe. It is possible to be direct, firm, with politeness.
How often do you send text messages to your spouse that say, “What time will you be home from work?” To me, such a text does not sound very caring (especially to someone you really love). If you added, “Hi, hope you had a great day, do you know what time you will be home from work?” I guarantee that approach will be more impactful, come off with a higher sense of thoughtfulness and will set the evening into a more happier place. Everybody wants to feel acknowledged especially after a long workday or an hour sitting in traffic, so why not adjust your delivery by adding a few extra words of kindness? It will only allow for a more courteous exchange, which should feed into the other person’s feelings. Feelings and emotions are the root of how we communicate, so why not use words that help boost and continue a smoother way of talking to each other.
I challenge all of you to start your day tomorrow (or after you are done reading this!) by using stronger and higher vibrating words in your communication at home, work, online and even when you are thinking to yourself. We all know that words matter and have a measure of strength behind them. But, it is the words that are encouraging, engaging and uplifting which are most significant.
With that said, I wish you the happiest of all days. You are fantastic.
Peace and Gratitude,
Lover her or hate her, you have to agree that Madonna works really hard, is a savvy businesswoman and very good at making a public statement. Let’s put her talent of performing and creating a dazzling show aside for a moment and break down how the Material Girl has kept her name a buzz throughout pop culture history for the past 30 years, and why you should take a moment to think about it. Through decades of publicity stunts, magazine covers and now online chatter, Madonna continues to create a sense of controversy, but also what I believe to be an important discussion for our society, especially for women.
With her recently released new album, Rebel Heart, Madge is still holding the throne of being the queen at making waves in the press and causing people to roll their eyes (I’ll get to that in a minute). Whether she is flashing her bum on the red carpet, posing topless or falling backwards at The Brit Awards, Madonna’s actions continue to be in the headlines. If you sit back and look at the bigger picture though, there is always a message behind what she does and says, including her oh-so famous provocative ways.
Yes, her goal is to sell music (that is a given), but she is also driven to make a statement of some kind to stir up conversation and make people think. Such statements at times, like kissing Britney Spears on stage or releasing her Sex book, may seem unnecessary to some people at first, but in the end, Madonna is doing these things to open up the minds of the current time.
Today, seeing two women kiss on television is not that big of deal and being naked or showing skin in the media is practically everywhere. I’m not giving Madonna all the credit in completely revolutionizing the freedom of self-expression, but she certainly has played a big part with just using her own music platform. I believe that is her main focus, and it is something courageous for a person to do. Madonna is always on a mission to revolutionize the way people think. She encourages rebelling against what is considered to be “wrong.” She may come off as the loudest, raunchiest and most daring at times, but if you zero in on what she is trying to communicate, then her actions should take less of the spotlight and her message should take the center stage.
What has my mind ticking is the opinionated backlash she (still) gets, especially on social media, for being “too old” to be doing what she does. Not one to keep quiet, Madonna has gone on the defense in recent interviews expressing that she is a victim of ageism and sexism. So, I have to ask, are Madonna’s current provocative ways “not appropriate” for the masses just because she is fifty-six years old? Is it ageism at its best?
I think, yes! When Britney, Beyoncé and Gaga are up on stage gyrating, nobody makes a big stink about it, so why is society so hung up on bashing Madonna? Why is there an expiration date for women and their expression of sexuality?
Madonna is also a mother, in impeccable shape, employs many people and has achieved success on many different levels. You would think her drive, talent and healthy physique would be an inspiration. Sure, she can upset people and goes to the extreme in many cases to make a point, but her motive is to get people to create conversation. That is a success all on its own. The more interaction she creates and the more thought provoking she is, the more awareness is in the air. That awakens our minds.
Madonna has also been a strong supporter for human rights, equality and numerous charities for decades. That is inspiring to me and those are qualities of somebody with compassion and wanting to make a change.
So, here we are in 2015 and Madonna is still being hated on. It does not make a whole lot of sense to me. She has paved the way for so many young artists and contributed to shifting and bending the norms of society. If the way she went about it was too much for some people, I can understand that, but perhaps the focus should be directed towards her positive intentions and forward thinking.
I don’t want to convince people to be Madonna fans because that is not what is important. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion (especially with music). But I do think all the negative words being said about her are overly harsh, and there is a disconnect between how she is viewed and the points she has made.
Society can be so strict about women wanting to express themselves, whether it is through artistic expression, fashion or music. The judgment meter has always been sky-high when it comes to women being bold in history. So I have to again ask. What type of message do you want to give your daughters: to stay quiet, not express what they think, not stand up for themselves and that when a woman reaches a certain age, she must dial down her creative thoughts? That just sounds so backwards to me.