There is a quote from philosopher Emmanuel Kant that says that we need three things to succeed in life: “Something to Do, Someone to Love, and Something to Hope For.” In my psychotherapy practice specializing in therapy and coaching for gay men, when I see truly thriving people, I think these three things are key to their success.
Something To Do
Something to “do” applies to a sense of mastery and productivity over our lives in both personal and professional ways. In cocktail conversation, we say, “What do you do?”, meaning, what is your profession, something that helps you identify your contribution to the world (and, yes, homemaker is STILL a legitimate answer!). We need to work to live, not live to work. Something to “do” can mean our work, but it can also mean our hobbies and our domestic life. A sound mental health means that we have control and mastery of our lives, and we are doing what we love to do as much of the time as possible. Lynn Grodzki, a therapist and business coach, says that our time should be spent in three ways: activities that feed our wallet, feed our spirit, and other “et cetera” activities — with that last category being the smallest allocation of time. Sometimes in therapy, the work is about helping someone “do” something else — a new work, or developing new hobbies and ways to meet friends or lovers.
Someone To Love
Someone to “love” applies possibly to a spouse or long-term partner, but it can also mean other worthy objects of our love. This can mean family, friends, or the recipients of our efforts. A teacher, for example, may have a love for his students. A doctor might love his patients. An activist might love animals. An environmentalist might love the Earth. To have a sound mental health, we must not only have the capacity to love, but we must select a recipient for that love that we have passion about, and that keeps us active every day.
Something To Hope For
Something to “hope for” means that we live with dreams and aspirations that motivate us toward the future, an as-yet-unattained goal that excites and drives us. Something to hope for could be working for social justice. We can hope for seeing a friend or relative graduate from school, overcome an illness, or complete a project. This kind of hope motivates us to dream bigger, appreciating what we have all the while, but also letting us work toward something valuable for our future. Something to hope for can include our own growth, the growth of another whom we care about, or the growth of a cause or purpose that is important in our particular system of values and priorities.
All of these topics can be the focus of therapy or coaching. The “do” area can mean career counseling/coaching, making a plan to improve or change your career, find new hobbies, or “clean up” life so that you have more time for the things you enjoy. The “love” area can be troubleshooting the relationships in your life to reduce conflict and increase joys with important people around you — partners, family, friends, neighbors, coworkers, and community members. The “hope for” can be identifying your passions and dreams, and freeing yourself to work toward what is most important to you in this lifetime.
Think about what you do, whom you love, and what you hope for. How is it different from what you would like? To close that cap, consider therapy or coaching. Doing, loving, and hoping can help you… Have the Life You Want!
Success Story: Jeff Makes a New Home
My client, Jeff, came to see me because he was trying to cope with a recent breakup with his boyfriend of two years. They had moved to LA together when Jeff’s boyfriend got a job transfer, but it became clear breaking up was healthy for both of them. Jeff wanted support, but he felt isolated living in LA. He worked for a big company and had a great job that paid well — no problem there. But as a gay sports fan, he felt a bit isloated and needed to overcome some social anxiety. He needed something new to “do” — and someone new to “love” — (see above).
Together in therapy, I helped Jeff conquer social anxiety with some cognitive-behavioral therapy techniques. We also brainstormed how to find new things to try and new people to be exposed to. Finally, Jeff came up with trying out for the local gay softball league. He made the team, and found that he couldn’t get enough of the practices and games — and he was a high-scorer.
He didn’t meet a new boyfriend — yet — but found a small group of teammates that he eventually saw socially, even outside of practice and games — in other words, someone new to love were his new friends, to make his new life in LA really feel like home.
Jeff learned how to use therapy to overcome anxieties, explore new activities, and take new risks — a good way to be on the road to having the life you want!
(All depictions in success stories are altered to protect client confidentiality, and may include an amalgam of different cases seen in actual clinical practice.)
If you would like more information on becoming my client for therapy or coaching, please let me know, and I (or one of my Associate Clinicians at GayTherapyLA) would be happy to help. Call/text 310-339-5778, or email Ken@GayTherapyLA.com for more information, or to book your appointment. As an old saying goes, “it works, if you work it.” We would be happy to help!