There's no question that the last two or three years will be long remembered for being some of the most difficult and depressing times in decades for so many people.

Our gay life coach Brian W. Fairbanks now considers this most challenging time for lots of us - New Year, as we optimistically look forward to 2024. It's a year that starts with continuing conflict in Ukranine and the Middle East, a cost of living crisis brought on by an incompetent Government that doesn't even care or know what to do, and unrest in schools, hospitals and railways.

For many people the prospect of another twelve months can be difficult to face, especially if you think your life is in a rut. So how do you shake off the New Year Blues?

It's no secret that the festive season can be depressing for some people. Much of the music played at this time of year encourages feelings of melancholy.

If you listened to yuletide music at all, you might have heard the song about the boy who wants to buy a pair of shoes for his dying mother because "I want her to look beautiful if mummy meets Jesus tonight."

Then there's Dido's song about the true love who promised to return for her on Christmas Day but never did.

And this is supposed to be the season to be jolly?

Well, even though this is the season in which even confirmed heterosexuals don gay apparel, for many people the New Year can be a rather gloomy time.

Peace on earth, goodwill to men to which much of the world paid lip service is nowhere to be found, and the greeting, empty though it is, joins the tree in the trash. The snow turns to slush, and the taxman is preparing to swoop down on you, taking whatever money you have left after all those presents and that Christmas shopping.

Before senility sank in, the American radio and television writer and crotchety old homophobe Andy Rooney did make one wise suggestion: begin the new year in autumn when the trees change color and the weather turns brisk. In January, nothing seems new, so you have to use your imagination to view it as a beginning. The world looks the way it did before Christmas, but there's no longer the pleasure of seeing the festive lights reflected in the snow. The days are shorter, the nights are colder, and the tendency is to seek comfort in the old habits we were hoping to break. Eat, drink, and be merry, and light a cigarette while you're at it because the world outside the window is pretty darn bleak.

That's the wrong approach especially if you're looking for love in the new year. Misery may love company, but companions in misery are still miserable. Love and romance aren't likely to blossom in the darkness of despair.

So, amongst all that bunting and all those decorations, just how do you shake off the New Year Blues, and make yourself attractive to someone who'll bring some much needed sunlight into your life in these dreary days of winter?

Sometimes wisdom can be found in the unlikeliest places. Somewhere in my brain there resides the memory of an episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show in which our heroine Mary Richards is lamenting the monotonous state of her life.

"I wake up. I eat breakfast. I get dressed. I go to work. I come home. I eat dinner. I go to bed."

It was Ted Baxter, the pompous anchorman more famous for having silver hair than a silver tongue who saw what Mary's life was missing. He gave her the following advice:

"Wake up! Eat breakfast! Get dressed! Go to work! Come home! Eat dinner! Go to bed!"

Notice the exclamation points. What Mary lacked was enthusiasm, the secret ingredient to a life well-lived.

More often than not, our routine becomes monotonous because we fail to fully experience life even as we live it. We don't eat dinner. We eat dinner while also reading the newspaper with a sly eye on the television and with our ear glued to the phone. We hear music while cleaning the house or while occupying a bar stool, but rarely stop all activities to truly listen to it. It's not entirely our fault. We live in hectic, fast-paced times but those times are stealing our lives. Instead of a living a life worthy of an epic novel, we're stuck with the equivalent of Reader's Digest .

The worst thing about living life at an accelerated pace is that we can become impatient in our relationships. Instead of taking things slowly and getting to know our dates, we may be tempted to keep watch out of the corner of our eye for a man with a sexier smile or a bigger basket. And our dates may be doing the same thing to us.

It was probably a Buddhist who said that the meaning of life is life. Instead of taking each day as it comes, and enjoying whatever pleasure comes our way in each moment, we're looking off into the distance, waiting for some sort of climax, an orgasmic conclusion, a pay off. "Where is our relationship going?" is a question we frequently ask of our lovers when they're not asking it of us, but why does a relationship have to go somewhere? Isn't the relationship enough? Isn't the relationship itself what it's all about?

So let the snow fall. Let it freeze you in your tracks. Fight the gloom by taking the time to truly focus on, to experience, all of your activities, even if it's something as simple as eating a bowl of soup. Put some exclamation points in your life! Life will never be slower than it is in winter, so take advantage of the season.

Brian W. Fairbanks, All Rights Reserved.


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