Respecting yourself

Research shows that how you feel about yourself affects the choices you make when you’re having sex. Respecting yourself and having a positive self-image is linked to how you take care of yourself. If you’re feeling low, you are more likely to have risky sex. So how can you maximize self-respect?

Paul Dolan is professor of behavioural science at the London School of Economics and author of Happiness by Design: Finding Pleasure and Purpose in Everyday Life.

We spoke to him to find out his top tips:

  • Ignore tired narratives: You can convince yourself that happiness lies in a lucrative job, a great body, a big house, or the stereotype of a successful gay man and create a false narrative about what you think you want in life – things that may not really make you happy at all. You don’t have to be a stereotype. Instead, think about what really makes you smile on a day to day basis and focus on doing these things more.
  • Seek experiences that have purpose as well as pleasure: Have you ever felt that you are focusing on pleasure but forgetting about purpose? Paul says it’s about finding a balance, seeking pleasure and purpose. Setting aside time to see friends, gardening, taking exercise – these little things can give purpose as well as pleasure. They give our life meaning and contentment.
  • Happiness is in the small stuff: Laughing, kindness, gratitude, new experiences, engaging Don’t look for big life-changing events to make you happy, it’s usually the small stuff that counts.
  • Log your behaviour: Keep a diary for a month noting what you are doing, who you are doing it with and how it makes you feel. This doesn’t have to focus on every detail – it’s a light-touch audit of the environments that really make you happy and the ones that don’t. This can help you make small changes for big improvements.