Comparison is the Stealer of Joy
And I am the stealer of this quote from an article on mantras for happiness!
Many of us measure our happiness from our surroundings -- the things, environment, and people around us. The neighbor just got a Mercedes or is trading up to a big house. Your cousin is on a month long European vacation. That guy at work you don't like just got promoted.
We live in world where it is too easy to make comparisons -- Zillow, Linkedin, Facebook. There will always be people who do better than you. When people who are not as smart as you, do better than you, it's like putting salt in the wound.
Back in 1999 one of my co-workers surprised us by abruptly resigning. Nothing was happening for him and he wanted to go someplace else. I got promoted before he did, even though he had been there five years longer. He was a nice guy, but no superstar. Today he is President of one of his company's subsidiaries. He made $1.1 million last year. He has millions in stock options. He will have a retirement income of over $250,000 per year before he's even 60. My immediate reaction when I saw this in a proxy statement was shock.
He hit the career lottery. Often we see people do really well in the corporate world who don't seem to be that impressive. If you obsess on these instances it will overwhelm you. I don't care about other peoples' houses, cars or vacations. I am, however, competitive about careers. Of course as a gay man I would like to have a bigger dick and a better body, but I'm over that.
Ok, so this guy is in the top 0.5%. I don't know exactly where I am, but probably in the top 3%. And that's just in the US. Considering the whole world, I'm better off than that. I am very fortunate. In this world probably 99 people out of 100 would trade places with me purely on an economic basis. I could have been born in North Korea or Myanmar, and had - from the perspective of my life today - a miserable life.
Ross mentioned to me that his bf seems to be really bothered when he reads about his business school classmates who are doing so well. He went to a top 5 business school packed with overachievers. I guess I'm not the only one who has these feelings.
This blog is about finding happiness. My perspective on life has changed. Every time I see one of the instances I described above, I think about how fortunate I am. Being in the top 0.5% instead of the top 3% or even top 50% doesn't mean you are any happier.
Tuesday, November 26, 2013
I am thinking about trying online dating again. During my preliminary research I found this video. Like Amy, I'm also a data driven person, and if I put serious effort into it, would probably also approach online dating this way. Other bloggers have detailed their often negative experiences with online dating -- most notably Cameron at TwoLives. I haven't had success with it either. Maybe if I put some thought and effort into it this time, I can make it work.
At lunch last week, Ross told me about a gay newbie at his church who hired an online dating expert to help him create profiles on OKCupid, POF and Match. This caught my interest because I'm curious what the expert would do to make him a success online.
One of the critical problems with online dating is getting past the face pic. Gay guys are so shallow and quick to dismiss you based on just a quick glance at the face pic. When you are 25 not a problem. But over 40? Often it's a problem. Not all of us are George Clooney. I'm think about a solution here. Topic for a future post.
Sunday, November 24, 2013
Back in January I had dinner with my friend George. He always asks the same question: "How's your love life? Meet anyone interesting?"
I told him about Ross over the summer. We dated for less than two months and it was great. However, his bf, Rico, came back from South America. He went back with him. It ended. George asked me how long they had been together, and I told him around three and a half years.
"Oh, ok. Then it's about time for them to break up or begin an open relationship," he said. George has a cynical sense of humor and I like that about him.
I've only had lunch with Ross one time this year. Uneventful. Skip forward.
A few Fridays ago I had a vacation day. It was 9am, I was sitting in bed, watching a morning news show. I was also browsing Manhunt. I messaged a guy I had never seen before, interesting profile. He didn't respond. I got my day going and moved on to other things. Then around 5pm I checked my email. Note from Ross.
"Rob, you may not be aware of this but you messaged me on Manhunt this morning."
Hmmm. "Hey, wtf are you doing on MH?? You have a bf you live with!"
He tells me he's having a midlife crisis. The sex with Rico is good, but they just don't have it enough. He just wants to go online to see who is interested in him, he's not going to actually meet anyone. Ok, right......I can believe that ;-). Then he sent me some recent pics he took of himself. He must really trust me, because I would NEVER send pics like that with face visible to anyone.
Then a week later on Sunday morning I see an interesting profile on Jack'd. It's Ross. I sent him a text. "Someone is being bad this morning!" We need to have lunch, I told him.
We met last Saturday. When lunch was done he said "let's go to a more private place to talk." So we got some coffee and sat in my car. The midlife crisis is getting worse. Rico just isn't satisfying him sexually. His hand is on my leg. "Rob, you look good." His hand is rubbing my on abs. We had a long discussion about how no relationship is perfect. "Has he talked to Rico about the sex?" Yes, but he's not hearing what Ross is saying. My impression is that Rico is totally naive. He has no idea the the relationship might be getting stale. Ross is not sure he believes in monogamy anyway. Last year when we ended I told him I was disappointed because we had so much potential sexually, and Ross reminded me of that statement. It was an interesting four hour lunch.
Rico is going to South America for a few weeks over Christmas...
It's rare when I meet a guy and both of us are really into each other. So this is tempting. Not sure what I want to do here. Obviously it would be better if he and Rico had an understanding. I want to, but I don't want to. It looks like he's going to cheat with someone, why not me? It doesn't help that I haven't met anyone I click with in a long time.
I need to think about this some more....
Wednesday, November 20, 2013
"We were never designed for the sedentary, indoor, socially isolated, fast-food-laden, sleep-deprived, frenzied pace of modern life."
I was watching a TEDx talk about the increasing incidence of clinical depression. This is especially true among the younger generation. Having experienced depression in the past I have an interest in this topic. The key message of this talk was that the changes in how we socialize, eat, and generally live, are root causes of depression, and why the spread of depression is getting worse. Look around the next time you are out shopping....how many people are NOT overweight? Look around at the guys over 40 on MH, A4A, Grindr, etc......how many are NOT overweight? And I think that gay guys are generally in better physical shape than the rest of the population.....just my theory.
I can speak from personal experience, exercise is necessary for staying physically and mentally healthy. Twelve years ago I started a serious exercise and diet program. In less than six months, I lost thirty pounds from my peak. I felt much better. I had more energy. My clothes fit well. People complimented me on how I looked. Most importantly, it got me past being depressed. I had a few false starts with exercising, but eventually I did it and stuck with it.
Over the last decade my weight has varied a bit. I've gone some months with little exercise, but mostly I have done ok. My resting heart rate is now down to 43. I saw this fitness age online calculator in the NYT a few weeks ago. Amazingly, my fitness age was scored at 21! My workouts rarely last more than 75 minutes.
Forget Prozac, Paxil, and the like. Try exercise for improving your mood.
Monday, November 18, 2013
I am at my target weight. I'm 5'8" and my target weight is 154. I am at 156 and stuck there. Close enough. Abs not as flat as this guy, but I'm ok with it.
Like many other people, my weight varies. It's hard to hold my target weight. Fortunately it's not varying by a huge amount, maybe fifteen pounds (but asymmetric to the upside!). But from my perspective fifteen pounds is fifteen pounds too much.
Now I'm worried about repeating the cycle. How do I maintain this weight? At some point I'll encounter a stressful period when I am not able to control my diet or exercise regularly, and be thrown off track. Then it's hard to recover.
I have never worked so hard to lose weight as I have the last four months. I've been at the gym running four miles and doing some lifting several times a week. I have another exercise routine for home: Bob Harper Core, pushups, ab workout and pullups. I've been eating primarily vegetarian with some boneless chicken breast or sometimes pork. Grilled vegetables all summer. Yogurt for lunch. Granola bar for a snack.
I feel like I may need to be on a diet forever. Maybe boost my calories a little right now, but not by much.
This time I have included much more weight training in my workouts. About a month ago I reduced my running to 2.5 miles from four. I'm just looking to get a little better definition and I don't want to be too thin. This may be why I can't seem to lose any more weight over the last month -- I might be gaining some muscle mass.
I have no illusion here. Being in better shape is not going to transform my social life. However -- it will make me more confident, and it will make me feel better....I already do.
Sunday, November 17, 2013
Many more people in the US live alone than ever before. In 1970 17% of American households were one-person, now it is 27%. Maybe this is because it's far easier to dissolve a marriage today than it was in 1970.
Alone turns to loneliness when you tell yourself that you are feeling lonely. You are the one telling yourself that you are lonely. For some people being alone is no big deal - they handle it well. For others, they are lost when alone.
The need for social interaction varies widely. Some need a lot, and when they don't get it, they have feelings of loneliness. I'm on the low side of the spectrum. I often want to be alone, and the social interaction I need is one on one. I don't like larger groups of people or even loud groups.
We are all different, and that's a good thing.
Monday, November 11, 2013
I went to a meditation class two weeks ago. My weeks are kind of crazy. Jumping from one topic to another, lots of meetings, phone calls, emails. This is jammed into my typical 11 hour day. When I get home I often still think about work -- I can't turn it off.
I needed to calm my mind. Turn it off. I thought meditation might be a means to do that. So I went to a three hour meditation class at a center that teaches Buddhism and these kind of topics. There were ten people in the class. Five of them had a body mass index greater than 50. This really annoyed me -- but I don't know why. It should not have, but it did. Everyone in the class, except for me, was a stereotypical granola type.
Anyway, sitting perfectly still, focusing on breathing, and thinking of nothing, is much more difficult than I thought it would be. Just keeping my mind from wandering for even a few minutes was difficult. I need to carve out ten minutes a day to actually practice he meditation. What's pathetic is that I haven't even done that yet.
I am also reading a book called Search Inside Yourself. It is written by an engineer who was one of the earliest employees at Google, and later became the company's "Jolly Good Fellow." I guess if I was one of the first employees at Google I'd be pretty happy too. One of the things I've learned from the meditation class and this book is to be "present." To be aware of my emotions before I actually react. Just learning this has really helped me.
My boss drives me crazy sometimes. I've found that sometimes a conversation with him escalates to the point where I am close to yelling at him. Needless to say, that's not the best for one's career. As he says things that make my blood boil, I am now thinking about the emotions I am feeling. Instead of just reacting, I am thinking about "how I should" react.
Sunday, November 3, 2013
I'm breaking all my own rules again.
Friday night I worked until 8pm. I came home and plopped in front of the tv. As usual I was also on my laptop. This time on a site called Daddyhunt. I've never met anyone from there before and I rarely go on that site. I didn't expect to meet anyone. Tonight I am being messaged by a 30 year old Asian guy. Soon he wants to meet me. He looks to be in great shape. We agree to meet at a coffee shop three miles from my house. "No sex," he tells me, "Just conversation." Ok, I can agree to that.
His name is Taka. He is very handsome and obviously in good shape. We really don't want coffee, so we decide to go back to my place. He's Japanese and here on a corporate ex-pat assignment in marketing. He really seems to be a nice guy. After ten minutes of "conversation" he asks me to sit next to him. He puts my hand on his leg. Within another fifteen minutes he is undressed down to his underwear in my living room. I'm massaging his body and licking his nips. What a great body. Beautifully smooth. Really toned and solid, completely lean. Lightly hairy legs. Is this the body you get on a sushi diet? We kissed a little, but he seemed not so into that. I ran my hands all over his body.
Right at 11pm he jumped up. "I have to go....working tomorrow," he said.
"Will I see you again?" I asked. "Of course," he said.
We'll see. All the talk about meeting appropriate guys and I keep doing stuff like this.
Saturday, November 2, 2013
There are a number of blogs I read regularly. Sometimes I read something that resonates with me and I think about it all week.
Closet Professor's post on growing older as a gay man and the thoughtful comment. And he's only 36!
One comment on that post from The Corporate Slave: "Just wait until you cross fifty. It's a whole different world of rejection."
Cameron's post on his painful breakup and discovery that his ex is with a "much younger man."
All this brings me back to the question: How do you have a fulfilled life after 40 as a gay man?
I could live another 40 years. I don't want to spend that time alone and jacking off.
Gay culture is looks and youth obsessed. Gay men over 40 are their own worst enemies as many won't date their peers -- they are looking for younger. Or if they are dating someone in their own age group, they will quickly bolt if a younger guy comes along. Is this the result of brainwashing by porn? It seems like hetero guys are more likely to date women in their own age range. Less chasing after younger women. Maybe I'm wrong. Recognizing that I'm not going to change the behavior of other guys, how do I affect my own behavior?
Who you meet is largely an emotional decision. It's often driven by the picture you see. If you are attracted to the guy you will probably move heaven and earth to meet him. If you're not really attracted you may just delay and delay, and never get around to setting up a meeting. And if he's unattractive, you hit the block button.
It's harder to stay in shape -- and attractive -- as you age. Forty and fifty-something guys message me and I quickly do a mental BMI calc....often way over 30 and that just isn't attractive to me. In 2002 I met a handsome South American man named Javier. He was maybe the third guy I ever met for a hookup. He was gorgeous. I remember going back to his place and we walked together up to his apartment. "I can't believe I'm going to have sex with this guy," I thought over an over. My heart was racing. He was so hot. The sex was amazing. I met him a few times after that and we stayed in touch. He eventually moved back to South America. When he's in town he sometimes calls me. Last time was six months ago. OMG, what eleven years has done. He's gained a lot of weight. Much less attractive. Eleven years ago he could say "jump" and I'd be there. Now, I'm really not motivated to see him. I've thought a lot about this and don't mean to be shallow, but this is my emotional reaction. There are guys over 40 in good shape, but they are in the minority. Many of the one's in great shape seem to be partnered already.
I'm thinking I should start a dating service for guys over 40. Collect profiles/preferences and then try to match guys -- no one under 40 allowed. The point here would be to put guys together who wouldn't have otherwise connected. Put some Patti Stanger rules in place, like no sex on the first date, just so that the guys get to know each other and make a judgment about the other person at a higher level. Meeting the guy you SHOULD be meeting! Many of these connections won't work out, but at least you'd be meeting appropriate guys. Not chasing after some 26 year old pipe dream.