Year One – How To Live A More Positive Life

(Original Article published on CAVE Magazine, February 23, 2015)

One of the greatest obstacles faced by many Canadians is mental illness.

Rather than using a fancy introduction or statistic, I’ve come out and said it.

Unfortunately, many Canadians cannot do the same when it comes to admitting a problem, or seeking help.

There is a stigma.

Nearly one in five Canadians will experience some form of mental illness.  Of that staggering number, almost two-thirds will suffer in solitude, unable to share their pain or struggle.

On February 12th, Bell held its annual Let’s Talk nation-wide event.  With every call made and tweet sent (alongside the #BellLetsTalk hashtag) $0.10 was donated towards mental illness.

But how many people really participated?

Canada’s population is roughly 35 million and there were nearly 100 million tweets, Facebook shares, texts and long distance calls made on February 12th.

These statistics indicate that Canadians care.  It’s time to start talking. We can’t be afraid.

No matter how much we deny it (especially as men), we all have our breaking points. There are times in our lives filled with confusion and denial, where we want to reach out, but are simply afraid or uncertain.

I am man enough to admit that I have been afraid. But this year, I will make changes.

This is Year One.

The concept is simple. You don’t have to start at midnight on New Year’s Eve. It begins when you’re ready.

You could start today. Or tomorrow. Or maybe, by reading this, you’ve realized that you already started.

This year, whenever you choose to start it, is about you and the changes you make as you live a better, smarter, healthier life.

Mind, Soul and Body

Get off your lazy ass.

It’s a phrase I commonly use on myself. I’m 20 years old and weigh 220 pounds. I may not look overweight (since I am, in comparison to most people, “a giant”) but I sure feel the weight.

A lot of men (myself included) use fitness to look good. But the real question is – how does it make you thinkand feel?

If you don’t have the stamina or strength for P90X, being active with some cardio and weight training can go a long way. It will help you sleep and compliment how you feel about yourself.

Body Dysphoria (a feeling of anxiety, stress and frustration towards your body) is becoming more common for men. This is especially true when we see H&M billboards of David Beckham around our stores and cities.

Remember – you get what you give. Work yourself hard, be motivated, and positive things will happen.

Plus, let’s face it, you feel amazing after a great cardio run. It’s a cathartic release we all need in our lives (even if we don’t initially realize it).

But fitness isn’t the only answer. Personal hygiene and style go a long way in providing confidence. Good hair, proper cleaning and a solid collection of clothing can go a long way to boost morale (while also impressing others).

Work, Hobbies and Everything in Between

A man is only as good as his word and work ethics.

Of course, we all have our breaking points. It’s in our nature to get pissed off.

Unfortunately, we don’t live in a world where we can abandon our jobs and become an NFL quarterback or marry a Kardashian.

And that’s fine.

Do what makes you happy. As lame as that sounds, it’s true.

Stress and anxiety come from a lack of progress or abundance of mistakes. If you really hate your job (and have the means of offsetting the cost of leaving), quit and do something you like.

Apart from work, find something to do with your free time. You need hobbies, and should do things that enrich your life (outside of work and friends).

Taking up a hobby is a great way to refocus your efforts and relax. It provides a distraction, while also giving you a chance to focus on yourself.

It’s A Big World

Travel.

Get on a plane, and get the hell out of here.

If you’re financially stable (and have the opportunity to take a hiatus from current obligations) pack a duffle bag and board a plane. Go anywhere. Go everywhere.

Having recently been in England and New York, I can attest to the fact that travelling is a great way to take a break from life. Not only is it a vacation, but it offers a chance to gain perspective.

Friends, Family and that Special Someone

Anxiety and loneliness often come from isolation. If you have a problem, talk about it with your family and friends. They’re there for a reason.

It’s also important to remember that personal strength (and sadly, loneliness) can come from a romantic partner. Romantic relationships are an integral part of life, but they cannot be at the expense of personal happiness or fulfillment.

The same goes for friends. Your allies reflect your character.

The End

So, what’s stopping you?

Like most things in life, the answer is you.

Don’t like your weight? Work out.

Have a problem with someone? Fix it or move on.

If you take one year to focus on yourself as a human being (rather than a chew toy for your anxieties), maybe Year Two can offer something beyond your imagination.

Go live.

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