Transparent sexual selves

Guest post from zoereei blog. Check out his blog for many more posts about sex and about the constant changing nature of life.

I have the freedom to sexually relate to whoever and however I want to. And yet I often keep myself distant, avoiding to meet up with a guy. I’m afraid of being seen as sexually incompetent; even more so, of seeing myself in that light.

My sexual drive pushes me forward at times, to look for excitement, for a thrill, for touch, intensity, physical pleasure. It pushes me to overstep the socially approved boundary, to go into the extreme, to take myself into a space where I lose all control and am at the whims of another, a space where I can be the bad boy.

Another force within me pushes me towards connection, to living an intimate encounter with another man, where sex expresses that connection and where body shape and deficiencies are respected aspects of the other rather than a reason to move away. Sex more than a fuck. The safe space of love.

And yet another force pulls me back, afraid of trusting the other, afraid of disease, afraid of infections, afraid of being used, afraid of being exposed and vulnerable – physically and emotionally – in front of the other.

Shame kicks in. Fear steps into the room.

I feel as virgin as a young teenager at times, within the body of a mature adult. I have very deep insight on some aspects of life, and am so ignorant in such a simple thing as having sex. I know all the theory. I lack a lot of practice. And these discrepancies between the child and the adult, the wise and the ignorant, feel like I’m being sheared in two. And in the arena of sex these feelings turn into ear-splitting rips.

There is no way of stepping out of this loop apart from stepping out. I need to allow someone in, and to allow myself into someone else. Not as how I should be, but as I am. Easier said than done, because who I am is constantly changing. Who will I be when I meet him: the slutty subservient slave, the controlling Dom, the fuck-now-then-see fun person, the let’s-take-it-slowly-and-grow-together lover? Which one is me? Or are all of these me? Which selves will I show? Which ones will I hide?

The path to freedom doesn’t lie in splitting apart my sexual selves, but in integrating them and allowing myself to be seen transparently for who I am.

Scary as fuck!

Originally published on zoreii blog. Thank you for the permission to repost!

Mountains, Beaches and Hippies

A guest post by Anike Marberg

Unbeknown by many people, Portugal has long been a destination for hippies, misfits and those that want to live a different life than the one so often found in many “Western” societies. During the 1970s and 80s, many hippies from Northern Europe, disillusioned by the political and cultural systems and the decline of their movement came to seek an alternative to joining the rat race in their home countries.

Almost secretly, this often overlooked country on the edge of Europe became the new hideaway for those seeking a different life.

Inspired by the beautiful beaches of the Algarve, the rocky mountains of inner Portugal and the near year-round sunshine, many made the trip south, including my parents. Many acquired small farms and lived as self-sufficient farmers, others in small communes while others established small businesses, restaurants and even entire eco-villages.

After living for years in communes in Germany and faced with having to make a choice between taking up ‘proper’ jobs or moving, they set out together for a better life in the sun in 1982. Establishing themselves in the mountains of the West-Algarve, they brought with them not much else but their two kids, a camper van and many ideals and just enough money to buy a small plot of land.

For us kids, living in the sun was a total difference to life in grim and grey Germany. Although the community in the Algarve was much smaller than the community we left behind, it was far more colourful, fun and enjoyable than anything we experienced in Germany. We first lived in a small commune in the western region of the Algarve, were the kids came form all over Europe and even some from Brazil. Playing and being outside became a new way of life. And we explored in amazement our new terrain, the freedom and the wilderness that now became home.

While many Portuguese looked on in puzzled amazement what these foreigners got up to, the welcome was warm and friendly. Curious at times, distant at others, but always in a manner that was pleasant, welcoming and friendly. We soon became friends with some local kids, which meant navigating linguistic, cultural and attitude differences. I still remember trying to explain to a local friend what my parents were doing in this country and why we were not allowed to eat meat. To this day, I’m sure, the now grown up hasn’t quite understood what those strange people did here. But as long as it was fun, it was good enough.

In my early twenties I left to explore the other side of my identity. But after a few years in Germany, I quickly realised that visiting my parents meant more to me than just holidays in the sun. Every time I was back in Munich, I missed the sun, the mountains, the friendly smiles and the happy vibes that made Portugal feel more home than the country where I was born.

When I moved back here in my thirties, it felt like coming home, too. Although I my way of life is different then the way my parents live: I live with a husband, in a comfortable house and with two dogs. Nevertheless, the welcome I received was just the same as the welcome my parents had some twenty years earlier. And I’m loving living here every single day. Even on the rare days where it rains, I’m grateful that my parents made the choice for Portugal – a place I missed so much when I was away.

Day 12: The basics of Meditation

Today we are moving on from mindfulness, that is to say bringing our mind to the here and now and to observe the present, to more actively engaging the mind in the way we want the mind to do. This is a subtle difference.

Previously I said: Meditation is a silent, stationary activity with a purpose (often focusing on training the mind to do something). This means to actively engage the mind to examine a chosen object (feeling, emotion, sensation…), or the “meditation object”. This can be something very similar to mindfulness, for example when focusing the mind on the breath (then we have mindfulness meditation!), but can also be something very different, for example, focusing the mind to visualise a situation in order to calm and relax (then we have a purposeful mind away from the present).

While practicing mindfulness is relatively easy to do without guidance, simply by focusing on yourself and your presence, this can be a bit more tricky with meditation. Today and the next three days I will therefore include links to guided meditations as part of the exercises. I’ll include different styles and topics: relaxation, motivation and sexual meditation.

Today’s activity is a simple guided meditation of just over 10 minutes, designed to increase your general motivation. To access it, click the link here.

Meditation is very much like mindfulness practice: it gets better with time and the more you do it. The effect takes a little until it unfolds, so don’t expect immediate effects, but you will notice changes slowly over time. If you want to do more meditations, just take a look around YouTube or SoundCloud for some more examples.

See you again tomorrow for an example of deeply relaxing meditation!

Day 6: Daily life as mindfulness practice

Yesterday you started to focus your mind by using your breath as a way to stop the mind from wandering. You can repeat the exercise every day, especially when you have a quiet space and are able to come inside you. Today, however, we add a little extra to the same exercise, by integrating additional, easy mindfulness training into every day life.

Think about how much time you spend during the day just being idle: waiting for a train for example. Waiting for your coffee. Waiting at the supermarket check-out. There are many times in a day you are likely to have a few second or even some minutes just by yourself.
Often these minutes just pass us by, maybe you think about something you need to do. Maybe you get annoyed at the time it takes to serve you your drink. Or the delay of the train, which should have been here five minutes ago.

Of course, those little fragments of time can be a source of big frustration: few things seems to get people as angry as waiting. Just think how many people make angry comments on social media when they are waiting.

But at least for today, and maybe even from now on, I invite you to see those little fragments of time as an opportunity to “check in with yourself”. Therefore, the exercise for today is simple:

In one or two situations where you are waiting (and where it is safe to do so), practice mindfulness for a moment or two. To do this, focus on your breath and your current position while standing or sitting. Attempt to focus solely on how you feel, on your breathing, on the way your body is positioned. Focus on the little details of the here and now: smells you can detect, maybe faint noises you would not normally pay attention to. The wind or the feeling of movement. Essentially be present in the current moment, avoid judging the moment (e.g. don’t attempt to classify the waiting as bad or good). Focus on your experience of the moment and try to observe yourself and the moment you are living without judgement, as if you were an outsider with no emotional connection to you.
If you can, try to do this a few times today wherever the opportunity allows.

I hope you enjoy the checking in with yourself today, and maybe you consider incorporating this small exercise into your daily life from now on. Just imagine how many fewer negative thoughts about the train company, the slow cashier or the person serving drinks you might have if you use these small tokens of timeto visit the most important person in the world: you.

If you find this exercise works for your, then why don’t you share it with your friends? To share it, click here – and also let me know how yo are feeling. Don’t forget to include #ug30bc when you tweet, or use the comment function below.

Day 4: Mindfulness

After all the preparatory things we are now starting in earnest the bootcamp… with a day dedicated to discovering mindfulness, why it is useful – and what is the difference between the “normal” state of mind, where we are not mindful, and a mindful moment.

To try the difference between a mindful and “normal moment” out, just try this simple exercise:
Set a timer for three minutes. Now sit down for these three minutes in a quiet room. Just sit quietly. Don’t talk. Keep your eyes open or closed, whatever you feel comfortable with. Simply stop reading now – and try it before continuing.

Well done on completing your first activity! How was it? What happened to your mind while you were sitting there?
Now if you are like the majority of people, you will have noticed that your mind wandered. You may have asked yourself what is the point of this. Maybe you thought of something nice that happened yesterday. Or on what you will do tonight.
No matter where your mind wandered off to, your mind probably was somewhere else then with you, where you were sitting. One could say, you were sitting there, while your mind was some place else.

This is, of course, often what happens in everyday life: we do things, but our mind is somewhere else. In fact, most people’s mind is very well trained in “wandering off”, that often we perform many things without “being there”: think about how you brushed your teeth the last time. What did you feel? You were probably on “auto pilot”, thinking of the day ahead, the night ahead or the bathroom wall that needs fixing…

Naturally this isn’t always a bad thing. After all, many things that we do are best done on auto pilot… they are not really interesting. But there is a problem with this: the problem is that the mind learns, constantly, to escape the present moment. Unfortunately, the mind is so good at doing that, that it starts to escape also when we are living through a moment that really would be much better if we would focus on it. But with an untrained mind, there is a big danger that your mind simply wanders off. Similarly, there are many moments where it seems perfectly fine to have the mind wander off. Maybe focus on the result we are hoping to achieve, rather than on what we are currently doing. Sometimes though, when we receive the result, we realise that we missed out on savouring the way we got there, and that actually the way was the good thing – and the result appears to be an anti-climax. Think of running for a long time: often the advice is to focus on the finishing line. How you will feel when you have completed the run. And that is good advise. It works for many people. However, while imagining the finishing line, you are running the danger of not noticing the small things around you, the feeling of your feet, the wind, the sights, sounds and smell of your run. That is to say: if you focus on the finish line, you imagine how you reach there, you are taking your mind away from the current experience – and you are in danger of only remembering “the big things” that drew your attention during the run.

During an endurance race, that can, of course be good advice. But what about going through life on that advice? It means you are at least in danger of missing out a lot of the moments of life: the sun on your skin, the smell of fresh coffee, feeling of waking up next to someone you love… many small details, that will be hard to “recall” – because they just happen so often, that unless prompted we often fail to even realise them.

I hope this makes the idea of mindfulness a bit clearer: basically, the idea of mindfulness is to bring your mind back to the present. To be aware what is happening right now, look at it without judging, just focusing on what you are feeling. To come back to the first exercise, if you performed the exercise with perfect mindfulness, you may have realised the feeling of the place you are sitting on. The feeling in your feet, the stretch in your back. Maybe you would have observed a faint noise in the background. The smell of the flowers next to you. In other words, in a mindful state, your mind would savoured every small detail of what was happening.

Now that we have worked out the difference between a mindful moment – and a “doing” state where we are doing something without paying full attention (which we could really call simply mindless, as the mind is not in the moment) I hope you are ready for your second exercise of the day. Don’t worry… it won’t take much time:

As a second exercise, pick something you do on “auto-pilot”: brushing your teeth, making coffee, whatever… any activity you normally do without much attention. But today, try to pay attention to what you are doing. Observe each feeling, emotion, smell, sound – all that is happening. Don’t worry if your mind wanders off a bit, but do try to bring it back when you realise it is going somewhere else.

Once you have completed the exercise, why not share how it felt. How did it feel different from “just” doing the coffee, brushing the teeth etc? It would be great to hear from you! Why not leave a comment below, or use the #ug30bc if you use Twitter. See you tomorrow!

Day 3: The Urbangay Manifesto

As said yesterday… today we will talk about some basic rules to make the bootcamp work – and some more overarching principles for the urbangay lifestyle.

To start off, here are the three simple rules for the next few days. The rules are not there to make things complicated – and I don’t think they are overly complicated. Instead, they are designed to be easy, simple and to help you get the most out of the bootcamp experience, for you and for everyone else who is ‘bootcamping’.

1) You can only fail if you give up.
This is hopefully pretty straight forward: there is no way to fail the bootcamp. At least not if you give it a try. The bootcamp is structured in days, but don’t let that stop you from going back or staying with one activity for a few days. The bootcamp is all about you. You decide. This also means that:

2) There is no right or wrong way.
Because we are all different, we like different things, and dislike different things. What makes it interesting is that we have different perspectives. Respecting different views is important during the bootcamp and in the urbangay community. Because of this…

3) Your opinion is valued, please share it
Share what you think. We are all in the bootcamp together. If you like something, why not comment on it? If you improved an exercise, please share it with the others. I love to hear your feedback, and I’m sure everyone else will appreciate to see how different participants feel. So… let’s share, be social and learn from each other.

Secondly, I invite you to think beyond the bootcamp. I’m “borrowing” these five principles from the general Buddhist ethics (I’m sure you will agree they are quite similar to other ethics). As promised, you don’t have to subscribe to this perspective, they are not part of the programme. But I invite you to reflect on them – and adapt them according to what you feel comfortable with. They are, after all, guides that make life easier and more enjoyable. Importantly, these are not rules or tick boxes. They are, in the Buddhist tradition, simply aims to live by. There is no shaming or blame involved if you feel you have failed. People have flaws. The Buddhist tradition simply asks you to acknowledge that you have failed and try to do it better next time.

1. Don’t kill – or cause harm.

2. Don’t steal.

3. Avoid false speak.

4. Avoid intoxication.

5. Don’t misuse sexuality.

1 to 3 should be pretty straight forward (I acknowledge, you can have a long discussion about them, but let us just accept them for the time being as given and the way you interpret them). 4 and 5 are more open to interpretation, particularly in terms of the bootcamp. As with 1-3, I invite you to use your own judgement when interpreting these for you. For example, traditionally, avoiding intoxication is interpreted often rigidly in terms of drinking or drugs. For me personally, I interpret this as not just referring to substances – but also to other forms of intoxication: for example, (mis-)information and other things that “numb” the mind. On the other hand, I don’t interpret this for me as something that prohibits alcohol, but rather that cautions not to over do it (and I’m sure you’ll agree… , trying to be mindful, do exercise or just about anything with a massive hang over is not going to work.). Similarly, I would interpret ‘misuse sexuality’ as meaning using sexuality to deceive or manipulate, including, of course, making sure sexuality is practiced only with consent.

I hope these three rules for the bootcamp – and the five principles to think about are a good foundation.

We also need to bear in mind, this is a journey we are taking together, and what has brought us here together: Lives that may have been lacking “that certain something”, or maybe just being curious about if there isn’t a better or alternative way. Something more fulfilling then what we have now.

Thus, let us combine all of this, together with all the topics and objectives of the bootcamp, into one easy “manifesto for the urbangay” (of course, you don’t have to live in an urban area. You are welcome to be an urbangay no matter where you are!). Something to guide the rest of the program and to define how we are growing as human being, during and after the program. So here is my “draft manifesto for the urbangay”… please remember to contribute and amend it how you see fit.

1. We are the urbangays.
We seek fulfillment through love, purposeful action, happiness and sexual expression with kindness, affect, freedom and respect for ourselves and each other. We use mindfulness, meditation, love and sexuality to create a fairer, happier and healthier world.

2. We are a community.
We come from different backgrounds, this is our strength. We are inclusive, diverse and welcoming, bound by the love and respect that we share for each other, united by our core principles. We support each other with kindness and generosity, with love and affection.

3. We embrace vulnerability and reject the perfect.
We acknowledge that nobody is perfect and everyone is vulnerable. We welcome our imperfections as showing us ways to grow and acknowledge ours and others vulnerabilities as possibilities to give and receive comfort and joy.

4. We live a fulfilled, purposeful life.
We may have different paths and objectives, giving us the opportunity to respect each others rights to live a fulfilled, purposeful lives, supported by the love, care and kindness of our fellow urbangays.

5. We have the right to ecstasy and to give and receive pleasure freely.
We have different forms of expressing sexuality and sexual identity, and we respect and cherish this, acknowledging everyone has the right to give and receive pleasure and experience ecstasy in a way they seek.

So… tomorrow we will finally get going. I hope you’re as excited about this as I’m! … See you tomorrow for the first activity introducing mindfulness.

But before we go, why not share the bootcamp with your friends?

Join me for 30 days of life, love, sex - mindfulness, meditation and tantra. Click To Tweet

Day 1: Welcome

First a big welcome! It is great that you’re joining me on this month long bootcamp! Over the next weeks, you’ll get a daily bootcamp activity, helping you focus on the most important person in the world: you! Less stress, better sex, more fitness… and even a completely new life are all on offer. All it will take is a small activity each day – to focus on you, yourself and your life.
But you don’t need to have big goals to take part: the program will still help you to enjoy your life more, get more out of the life you have and develop strategies and ideas to live a purposeful and happy life, now and in future.

The bootcamp uses truly powerful methods to empower you and your life: mindfulness, meditation and tantra. Each one has the potential to change your life  – together they are amazing, that’s why I’ll bring them all in over the next few weeks.
Why not focus on a single method like so many other methods? Simple answer: because the programme should be flexible enough to allow you to experience it all – and then pick what you like best – and what works for you.

The bootcamp is divided into four weeks, with daily doses of activities to complete or information to read:
For the first two weeks, we will focus on two powerful methods to focus and transform your mind: mindfulness and meditation. During these two weeks the bootcamps showcases different uses for the two methods – and the two methods in action, both in conventional as well as unconventional ways: So we will explore mindful awareness of the moment as well as mindfulness while performing sports, meditation in a traditional way to discover yourself, transform your mind – as well as a source of sexual energy.

The second part of the bootcamp then uses these methods to focus on living your life more purposefully in general and focusing on love, relationships and exploring and expanding your sex life. In the last part, I’ll additionally introduce some elements of tantra into the mix, to complement meditation and mindfulness. If you now think this means a lot of touching, strange positions and no orgasm, I have good news for you. Don’t worry… this isn’t going to be a classical tantra course. Far from it … as part of the bootcamp you’ll explore all the options of sexuality, from wild to sensual.

In fact, the bootcamp is designed in such a way that you don’t to have to sign up to a specific philosophical (or religious) world view before you embark on the programme (or ever after!). It is great if you have one, it’s great if you have none. You don’t have to become vegan or start every morning with a half hour meditation. Unless you want to. It’s really up to you. The bootcamp won’t ask you to do that. The most important for the bootcamp is that you have fun, discover some new things, learn some new tricks and maybe discover a few things about yourself. There are some principles, but I think you’ll agree they are easy to follow.

Finally… let me say what is required from you. Luckily, the requirement is quite simple. Simply complete the activity of the day as good as you can. There is a simple rule in this bootcamp: you can’t fail, unless you give up. Some activities may be more fun than others for you. Some will be amazing, some may not be something you would normally do. Go with it. Try it and see. I promise you, at the end you will have developed a toolbox of great activities which you enjoy and which will really help you get more out of live, love and sex.

The main point is that we are going on a journey. Together. Please share your experiences and become part of the urbangay community. Let’s make this a great journey, and the begin of a long journey together.

Just before we start, check in tomorrow, as  I’ll go over some of the terms I have quite loosely used here – and how they are different (but also why they are so great in combination!).

urbangay bootcamp: Day by Day

With just a week away, here is a look at the day to day program of the urbangay bootcamp, which starts on the 1. March.  As you can see, the bootcamp is divided into two parts:

Part 1 is the “skills” section: in this part, daily activities and material will cover the basic skills of mindfulness and meditation in a no-nonsense and easy to follow way.
Part 2 is the “application” section: here the skills from part 1 are the essential tools to take a break, have a look at life and love – and discover a bit more about you.

As you can see… it will be a fun month of daily, small activities, which make you think, change the way you look at life, make you appreciate life more, that are sexy and enjoyable!

To join – all you have to do is come back to the blog for the new activities. There is no fee, no application but please let me know how you like the bootcamp and the activities!
Alternatively: you can sign up to the newsletter (delivered as a weekly digest).
If you prefer your posts daily: you can also follow via Instagram or Twitter – and now also via Facebook.

Part 1 Mindfulness and Meditation
Wednesday 01/03/17 Basics of the bootcamp
Thursday 02/03/17 What’s meant by Mindfulness, Meditation and Tantra?
Friday 03/03/17 Here come the #urbangays! A Manifesto
Saturday 04/03/17 Switching from autopilot activity to mindfulness
Sunday 05/03/17 Focusing on Breathing
Monday 06/03/17 Daily life as mindfulness practice
Tuesday 07/03/17 Awareness
Wednesday 08/03/17 Awareness (part 2)
Thursday 09/03/17 Body scan – the quick way to check in with yourself
Friday 10/03/17 Letting go
Saturday 11/03/17 Mindfulness Recap
Sunday 12/03/17 The basics of Meditation
Monday 13/03/17 Meditating for relaxation
Tuesday 14/03/17 Meditation as a tool for change
Wednesday 15/03/17 Meditation for sex
Part 2: Life, Love, Sex
Thursday 16/03/17 Checking in on life: nourishing and deleting activities
Friday 17/03/17 Using meditation and mindfulness as guides: life choices
Saturday 18/03/17 Using Mindfulness to develop your life strategy
Sunday 19/03/17 Training Empathy and Gratitude
Monday 20/03/17 Mindfulness and Meditation as tools for Stress Reduction
Tuesday 21/03/17 Food – nourishing you mindfully
Wednesday 22/03/17 Mindful Exercise
Thursday 23/03/17 You are beautiful: Body Image
Friday 24/03/17 Defining your sexual self
Saturday 25/03/17 The basics of tantra
Sunday 26/03/17 Orgasm, Ejaculation and the role of breathing
Monday 27/03/17 Love yourself without shame: masturbation
Tuesday 28/03/17 Sensuality with mindfulness: Partner massage
Wednesday 29/03/17 Mindful Kink – spicing things up
Thursday 30/03/17 Mindful Relationships
Friday 31/03/17 Sustaining Mindfulness



What’s the bootcamp?

I’m really excited: you probably have seen the stuff about the “bootcamp” around the blog. The bootcamp is something I have been working on – and I hope you’ll join when it starts in March. In this post, I’ll explain a bit about the bootcamp – and in the next post I’ll say a bit more how it came about.

In a nutshell, the bootcamp is a month long “program” that brings together bits of mindfulness, meditation and tantra specifically for gay men (although you don’t have to be gay, of course!). I’m a bit hesitant to use the word program, as it isn’t really a big thing “change all aspects of your life” sort of thing and it doesn’t require you to commit to a lot of time every day.

In fact, it is a small, daily doses kick-starter program: similar to a fitness bootcamp, just less work and more results. It brings together some activities that I have found to be really good to get more out of life: a collection of things that I have picked up upon or used over the years. Now I assembled all of it into a “meaningful package”.

The idea is that, for a month, you try out something different or think about a particular point every day. All of the points together, at the end of the month, give you a pretty good overview over your life, things you are happy with, identify things you want to change, and things you want to explore more.

I think the result is a fun month of daily, small activities, which make you think, change the way you look at life, make you appreciate life more, that are sexy and  enjoyable.

The bootcamp has two parts: the first part is learning techniques, basically giving you some activities to help you better control your mind to be present, and to do what you want it to do (you’ll see, that is not as easy as it sounds!). The second part, is applying this to life, sex and relationships.

In the first part, the bootcamp starts with mindfulness. Simply training the mind to be present in the present moment. If you are a bit skeptical about it… I totally see your point: I remember when I first heard about the technique, I thought it was really stupid. And simple. But after giving it a try a few times (and I needed a few times to get it right, because it wasn’t really that simple at all!), I realised what a difference it can make make to many situations.

The bootcamp continues from there: the next step is meditation. Not in a dogmatic way, but in a fun way! While the first part gives you activities to focus your mind on the now and present, this part trains the mind to focus on specific issues with a purpose. Meditation and mindfulness are then the techniques used for the second part of the boot camp, where it is all about applying them to enjoy life more.

The second part focuses on the application: first on life overall – and then quite specifically to sex and relationships. This is the real fun part, a you get to ask all the big questions, and use the techniques from before on them.

Careful though, this part is not your typical meditate on life and hope for the best outcome sort of program: it is a really focused way of crafting your individual life and sexual “strategy”. Totally NSFW … From food to masturbation, exercise to kink, from using sex toys to going nude – it will all come in the second part.  And you’ll see how the techniques from the first part of the bootcamp help you enjoy all of it much more then before.

And just like a fitness bootcamp, the plan is trying to get you out of your normal life a bit – explore around the edges of your comfort zone… and have a lot of fun along the way.

Find out more about how the urbangay approach and the idea for the bootcamp developed in the next post. And: don’t forget: if you sign up to the VIP list newsletter you won’t miss out on any bootcamp posts!

7 Tips for kickstarting the Best Year …ever – even if you gave up on your resolutions

So how has your start of the year been? Mine has been a bit rocky – and new year resolutions are awesome… but often turn out hard to keep (and some may turn out to be quite a stupid idea to begin with). However, there are a few things that can really make this year a happier, healthier and more fun year for you. So here are a few tips (mostly based on the urbangay happiness challenge).

  1. Learn a new language. Many language courses start in February (for example at many universities). That is an ideal way to rewire your brain to a completely different perspective, have mind-opening conversations – and travel like a local where the language is spoken. The other good thing is, once you signed up to classes it is quite hard to quit…
  2. If you don’t feel like learning a new language, you could just go easy(er) on yourself and pick up a new hobby: from stamp collecting to running, meditation or tantra. New skill – new you.
  3. Whatever you do… ditch your TV. OK, maybe keep a Netflix account for those emergencies of a Netflix and Chill date … but seriously: TV robs you of the time you could spend with friends, make new connections – or even have fun with your new hobby. And seriously, when was the last time you saw something actually worth watching on TV ?
  4. Avoid negative people. Yes… simple trick to make you more happy: avoid those that constantly bemoan the cold January, the state of the world economy or just the fact that the coffee they are drinking isn’t organic. Seriously, there is no better way to make your day worse than surrounding yourself with negativity. So… ditch the moaners. And say hello to people who realise it may be cold – but above all it is sunny!
  5. Start a challenge… OK, admittedly this backfired a bit on me. But starting a challenge is a great way to keep you motivated. And you can create a challenge on pretty much anything: from reading to running. Or whatever it is that you are doing. Think who can collect more stamps in 30 days… you or  your friend? – or can you both keep up with going fro three runs every week (btw… remember to join here!).
  6. Volunteer. I wrote about this before… it is really one of the best things to kick start a happier you: volunteer. Especially, when doing it regularly: it is also a great way to meet new people. So what are you waiting for?
  7.  Use To Do Lists. This one keeps you focused: First rule, write a To Do List before you go to bed for the next day. Like that you know exactly what to do the next day and get up with energy to “get things done”. Also, don’t forget, those lists can inspire some other areas of your life, like your sex life 😉 .

Do you have some more tips for a happy 2017? Why not share them below? Remember… whatever day it is, you can always kickstart a better year. 🙂 And, please, let me know how you get on!