How To Be A Man

image of a man with an awesome beard

You don’t need a beard like this to be a man.

Standing in the corner with his arms crossed, he keeps his head tilted slightly and looks at no one in particular. No emotion appears on his face, and he remains aloof whenever in conversation.

Stern, demanding, and forward, he is constantly barking orders at others. The concerns of the rest of the world mean nothing to him.

Are these the types of images that pop into your head when you think of a “manly man”?

I hope not, but it’s all too common for men to act like this anyways.

What it means to be a man in today’s society is very difficult to pin down. And it’s no wonder this is the case, considering all the mixed signals that society is giving us.

Be a stud and sleep with lots of women. Don’t be a chauvinist. Be strong and show no emotion. Be sensitive. Take risks. Live a stable life. Be top dog. Be a team player.

How are we supposed to sort out the good ideas from the bad? How do we cut through all the information out there and figure out what it truly takes to be a man in today’s world?

Look no further.

This post is inspired by this article over at Steve Pavlina’s blog.

I certainly agree with many of the points he brought up (particularly honoring the masculinity of other men), but I felt I had to write my own description of what it means to be a man in today’s world.

 

How To Be A Man In Today’s World

There are 8 things that make a man, and here they are.

1. A Man Accepts Himself

A man feels totally comfortable in his own skin.

He knows that wherever he is on his life path at any given time is ok, since he is a creature of never ending growth and improvement.

He does not fight against his situation, because he knows that acceptance will provide a better end result.

“Be content with what you have;

Rejoice in the way things are.

When you realize there is nothing lacking,

The whole world belongs to you.”

-Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, Ch. 44 (Stephen Mitchell translation)

2. A Man Exhibits Leadership

A man does not wait.

If he wants something, he will seize the opportunity to take it.

He understands that nobody else is going to make his dreams come true, and he must take the initiative to make things happen.

This is true in all areas of his life, but particularly with his relationships.

He knows why he is involved in any relationship, and he makes sure it stays on course. If it is not working out as planned, he knows to free himself from a bad relationship.

Similarly, if he seeks to get to know someone better, he will take the necessary actions.

To a man, leadership is absolutely a foundation for his existence.

Even when he follows, he still leads. When he follows, he is like the passenger in a car who knows exactly where he is going and how he will get there.

3. A Man Finishes What He Sta-

Haha, just playing around.

A man will always finish what he starts.

It is very much the sign of a boy (NOT a man) to begin many different ventures and give up on them before they have a chance to take hold.

A man will see things through, and he will devote enough attention to each one to give it a chance to succeed.

A boy will go into something unprepared, find himself surprised, and then quit when he is overwhelmed.

A man will make sufficient preparation, and then have the perseverance to stick through it despite the inevitable setbacks.

4. A Man Respects His Body

A man understands that his health is critically important, and for a number of reasons.

He knows that without good health and basic levels of fitness, he will be limited.

Therefore, he does his best to eat right, exercise, and get enough sleep. A man knows that he feels much better when he takes care of himself.

He also knows that if he can’t take care of his own body, he can’t be expected to be able to take care of anything around him.

Who would take seriously his ability to raise a family or manage a project if he doesn’t even manage his own body properly? After all, his body is the thing he has the most control over.

5. A Man Freely Expresses His Emotions

A boy thinks that he must be visibly emotionless.

A man lets his emotions into himself and feels them fully.

He knows that he can only feel his emotion fully when it is completely un-suppressed. He accepts the emotion that he is feeling at any given time.

For negative emotions such as anger and sadness, allowing their expression will result in them dissipating faster. A positive emotion will be more fully enjoyed when expressed without hesitation.

Boys tend to suppress their positive emotions.

They think they will seem “cool” if they are unresponsive to the positive things in life. Men, on the other hand, love to celebrate the good in life.

6. A Man Takes His Own Counsel 

A man has the final say in all things relating to his life.

While he respects the opinions of his family and friends, he will always do what he believes is best in a given situation.

It can be tempting to delegate the responsibility of decision making, but a man resists that temptation. He knows that he must be the one to decide what to do.

Letting someone else decide what he should do causes problems for him, such as allowing him to pretend that the consequences of his actions are not his fault or responsibility, when they most certainly are.

7. A Man Has Good Listening Skills

While a man has the ultimate decision making authority in his own life, he must still be able to listen to other people and their opinions.

He has respect for others, and he allows others to have just as much speaking time as him, if not more.

A man doesn’t just hear what others say; he listens.

That means that he does what it takes to understand what the other person is saying.

Although listening is a difficult skill to master, he practices it in is daily life because he recognizes its importance.

To a boy, saying what he has to say is the most important part of their social interaction.

To a man, listening to others is his primary focus during social interaction.

A man must be able to communicate effectively, and good listening skills are the foundation of effective communication.

8. A Man Brings Out The Best In Those Around Him

A man knows that he is not an island.

He is intrinsically connected to everyone else, and he has an interest in bringing out the best in others.

Therefore, he will never prop himself up at the expense of others. He will allow other people to get credit for what they have done. He will even give others credit for his own accomplishments.

A man will encourage those around him to succeed.

He will never try to dissuade others from pursuing their passions.

He knows that the best way to encourage others is to lead by example, and thus must always do what he can to bring out the best in himself.

 

Conclusion

I don’t claim to be the authority on what it takes to be a man in today’s society, and these are just some of my thoughts I had to spit out.

If someone does the eight things described above, I believe that strongly qualifies him as a man.

That being said, I would love to hear your thoughts on this matter.

If you disagree with anything I’ve said or you want to add something, leave a comment below!

photo by: liber

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Comments

  1. I really like your thoughts, Mike, especially the Lao-Tzu quote. Being able to freely express your own emotions is definitely a challenge at times, but is well worth it.

    Reading through this, though, I feel that this is less a guide to being a good man, and is rather more a guide to being a good human in general.
    Jeremy recently posted..Versatile Blogger AwardMy Profile

    • Mikey D says:

      Thanks!

      I can see where you would think many of these things apply universally. That being said, my intention was to highlight things that many men have trouble with in particular, and that are even more important for men. For example, I think for men it is a more defining feature to take your own counsel than it is for women. Women are more likely to factor in social consequences or do something because someone else wants them to. In my opinion, this is unacceptable for a man to do.

      I welcome some disagreement though! I think some of these points could be controversial.

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