Want to know it's going to be OK? Find your people

BY HARLAN COHEN

Dear Harlan,

Hope you had a happy New Year! I'm writing in response to your New Year's column. How do I know if everything will be OK and work out? What's the best approach to lessen worry? I try to distract my mind, but I know it's not healthy. Any suggestions?

-- Fresh Start

Dear Fresh Start,

Happy New Year! You always have a choice. You can think it's going to be OK and work out, or you can think it's not. You decide. The most helpful thing you can do is intentionally surround yourself with people who believe and know it will be OK. These will be people who will listen, share strategies and support you. Find at least five of them. This includes counselors, co-workers, clergy, friends, family, authors, mentors and positive forces in your life. Some of these are people you'll meet. Others you'll get to know through their writings, videos and other works. You'll start to see a pattern with these people. They choose to view life through a similar lens. They never stop believing it will be OK. They have habits and rituals to distract their minds. Daily rituals like exercise, meditation, goal-setting and list-building guide their lives. Now let me be totally transparent. Life is filled with discomfort and pain. It's unavoidable. We can't always control what will happen to us. We can only control how we react. We can control how we move forward beyond the darkness. We can control if we fight discomfort or walk alongside it. You can experience pain and face difficult times and know that everything will be OK. After pain comes relief. After tragedy comes recovery. Nature is cyclical. To see this, you need to define what you want and feel what you want before it happens. This takes surrounding yourself with people who will help you see it, believe it and make it happen. I'm grateful to be one of the people in your corner. Please keep me posted.

* * *

Dear Harlan,

There's a woman I'm interested in getting to know better. We go to the same gym and are in a cardio boxing class. I'll see her working out, but I don't want to make her uncomfortable by approaching her. I don't want to be that weird guy at the gym. I want to get to know if she's interested in getting together. I'm not shy, but I don't want to do or say anything that will make her want to avoid me. What's the best way to approach her? I know I'll see her again, so I want to be careful.

-- Cautious

Dear Cautious,

Meeting at the gym can be tricky. Some people want to sweat, stink and leave. Other people are looking to be social. Instead of asking her on a date or being overtly flirty, start with a little small talk. Discuss the workout. Ask about the coaches or trainers. Engage in some kind of conversation and see if she's interested in engaging with you. Give it a couple of months and see how she interacts with other people. Is she working out with friends? Does she have a man with her? Get a sense of how she socializes at the gym. If there are outside social events associated with the class, go to them. Some gyms will have social gatherings for this exact reason. Once you get a handle on her gym personality, you'll know how and if you should ask her out.

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