“I’ll be down in a just a minute, honey. I need to finish this. It’s important.”
Important is a slide rule.*
*Only Gen X and above have any idea what I’m talking about when I say “slide rule.”
A Bell Curve. A Sliding Scale. Common core math may not have taught the concept. Sorry. Maybe I can explain it better.
What we value as important is often dependent upon the situation we are in.
That call from work about the TPS reports is important. But not as important as your kid is in the ER.
Moments of crisis, moments of trial, and heartache, sometimes leave us shaken. Imagine going back to work and listening to someone drone on about profits and production when your dad is on life support….
Imagine missing your child’s entrance into the world because you had to work overnights.
Paying your bills on time, getting out of debt, being fiscally responsible is important.
But if my kid needed an emergency surgery, and the family deductible isn’t met, I’d not think twice about the cost needed.
Our priorities are all screwed up.
I can’t tell you what YOUR priorities need to be, or which order they need to be. Heck, sometimes they bounce a little. Sometimes you gotta work a little extra. Sometimes you gotta shuffle and juggle to get things in place. That’s life. There is no such things as balance. At least not in the MOMENT. I think we find balance over long periods of time.
But your kid doesn’t care about your work/life balance when you miss their ball game.
Honestly, I struggle. Taking care of myself has not been a high enough priority. Especially this past year. I think I’ve happily settled into stroking my conspiracy and fear-porn glands a bit and allowed myself to camp out in the dark and seedy underbelly too much.
WAIT? IS JOSH A Q-ANON? No. But I’ll admit – there’s a draw for me to try to see behind the curtain of corruption. The former journalist in me is always connecting dots and seeing deception. I like listening to the news. I like scrolling on instagram. I LIKE reading declassified files on the CIA and FBI website, or scrolling through data dumps on WikiLeaks. There’s a side of me that is VERY interested in these things. That doesn’t mean I believe any of it. But I like to look for the truth under the surface that seems to get ignored.
It’s my dark side.
I can’t tell you how many blog posts I’ve written in my head that expose the actual true things that I’ve learned (cutting through the hyperbole of the extremist websites, and the smoke and mirrors of the main stream press) – but I realize that going down that rabbit hole is not IMPORTANT.
I just went a whole weekend with Instagram deleted from my phone— with all of my notifications turned off. Not checking newsfeeds. It was hard. Digital Cocaine Withdrawal. I was itchy. LITERALLY ITCHY all weekend. I could feel my phone vibrating in my pocket when my phone wasn’t even within a mile of me.
There was some other stuff going on that required my attention, and my emotional involvement. My wife asked for our family to have a retreat, to focus on God, to focus on each other, and to cut everything else out.
I scrolled a couple times. I feel a bit dirty admitting it. I needed a little hit. Wanted to make sure I wasn’t going to be leaving the green pastures and going home to a full blown apocalypse. ( I didn’t. The world is still here. )
On the last night, I started to break down. All of the pressures we had been facing came crashing at me. I felt PAIN. Deep personal emotional pain. Not just from the current situations, hell…. Some of it was four decades old. I’ll get into that another time…. But I basically collapsed on the bed and sobbed quietly for twenty minutes.
My point is, THAT crap is important. The fact that I have some deep personal woundedness that I need to work through that I’ve been numbing and fuzzing out for 40 years… that’s IMPORTANT.
I keep ignoring the fact that my health is important. Well, Last October’s heart attack should have gotten my attention, right? Gawsh. I’m about as stubborn as a mule.
I think most of us don’t even THINK about our priorities. We MAY think about our values – though we live our values whether we think about them or not… but our values and our priorities are not the same thing.
To prioritize is to actively get your hands dirty and organize the crap into piles so you can deal with it.
I can’t answer it for you. I can’t tell you what should be important to YOU. But I can tell you – if you don’t take the time to really evaluate what things are important, you’ll find yourself spinning your wheels in a flinging sludge field full of cow crap, and wondering why you aren’t getting anywhere. Trust me. I know this from experience. I’m working on it. Work on it with me.
Not like Eddie Murphy Raw – on the edge and unrefined – full of curse words and a fancy leather getup.
More like, there’s a rash under my belly where my waistband rubs, and I’ve been scratching it too much, and now the skin is flaking off and bleeding, and no matter what I do it stings.
Except it’s not just my underbelly. It’s the underbelly of my whole life.
I’m coming back from a weekend away dealing with a personal family crisis. And NO – it’s none of your business.*
*If you know, it’s because I trust you to keep your yap shut and protect my family’s pain. If you don’t know – it shouldn’t be on your lips.
The past year and a half have been like a crisp denim waistband rubbing against my rash. Major life changes. (Even good changes can be hard changes.) Stupid viruses and lockdowns and non-stop fear-porn and engineered outrage. If anyone had any kind of mental weakness or infirmary, this past year has rubbed it RAW.
There was a poignancy, an authenticity to all of it in the wake of his death. We dealt with death… and redemption, struggle, pain, and purpose.
Now here I am, with the smell of death all around me.
I opened my fridge after a weekend away. Something dead had started to smell.
I think of the fact that the best beef is aged – sometimes a month after slaughter.
There are two choices for aging beef, wet and dry aging. Let’s explore the two methods.
Wet aging includes storing meat in sealed airtight bags under refrigeration (32°F to 34°F) up to 3 weeks. Wet aging results in traditional beef flavor and is the most common aging method.
Dry aging is less common than wet aging due to the complexity and cost. Beef is stored uncovered in a refrigerated room (32°F to 34°F) under controlled humidity and air flow for up to 4 weeks. Dry aging results in distinctive brown-roasted beefy flavor.
When I think about raw meat aging, it’s hard to think about it being good.
I’ve thought a lot about what I do here at Manlihood.
There is a lot of pressure to make this all search engine perfect, so that the the artificial intelligence that governs what things are good for us and what things are bad for us know if Manlihood is good for us or bad for us. I could write a lot of blog posts like:
5 Things you need to know about being a good man!
The Truth about manhood
Masculinity Under Fire: How to preserve and protect manhood
4 Things To Make You a Better Father
And don’t misunderstand me, I may write some like that. They can be helpful, even if they are formulaic.
But maybe what we really need isn’t a steak that’s well done – it’s a steak that’s rare.
Interesting that we use “rare” to describe meat that is cooked just enough to kill the germs and worms.
Different. Unique. Special. Treasured.
Uncooked. Pristine. Original. Irritated.
As I get ready to launch a new season of the Manlihood ManCast, and as I build Manlihood into a bigger and better community to help men be better men, I’m reminded that my role in it is not necessarily to “polish it” or “cook it to death”
It’s better if it’s pink in the middle, and a little bloody, or a little uncomfortable.
In this podcast episode for men, Josh Hatcher of Manlihood.com breaks down the answer for happiness for men.
Happiness isn’t the point of life. Don’t make it your most important pursuit. We’ll talk more about that in a bit.
If men want happiness, it starts by realigning your perspective with a clearer picture of your situation. It’s often easy to see the bad things and lose focus. You’ve heard the old adage, “I always envied a pair of new shoes till I met a man with no feet.”
Gratitude is not just a reaction to happiness for men. It’s actually a catalyst. We often equate feelings with actions or choices. We may not feel grateful, but choosing to express gratitude unlocks the feelings we desperately need.
We usually don’t think of discipline as happy – but the truth is – taking care of ourselves, eating right, getting exercise, sleeping well have a huge impact on how we feel. To be disciplined to put good content in our brains and reject the content that makes us feel bad also requires discipline.
Joy vs Happiness
Happiness is a feeling. Joy is a choice – a state of mind. It’s okay to want to be happy, but don’t let the feeling satisfy. Life will often bring times of sadness, anger, loneliness, or other feelings we think of as unhappy. We have to learn that to choose joy helps us overcome the despair that those other feelings can bring if left unchecked.
In this episode of the Manlihood ManCast, Josh Hatcher addresses a number of things that he shouldn’t have to say – things that all men should no – but he’s still going to say them – because some of you keep getting them wrong.
What does it mean to be a man? What traits are associated with masculinity?
Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength.
It is courage, courage, courage, that raises the blood of life to crimson splendor. Live bravely and present a brave front to adversity.
A man can stand a lot as long as he can stand himself.
~ Axel Munthe
Leadership is not Lordship. It’s service. It’s helping. It’s influence.
To be assertive works best if not tied with arrogance. It’s okay to demand justice and truth. It’s okay to stand for what’s right. It’s okay to ask for a raise, or expect your family to obey you. This must be balanced with humility and integrity, or it’s just another jerk spouting off.
“Vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others.” Jonathan Swift
“A great leader’s courage to fulfill his vision comes from passion, not position.” John Maxwell
The root word of “integrity” is “integer” – which means “whole” If you have integrity – you are whole – not fractured by character flaws.
Men are the best they can be when they are together. A better man has brothers in his life. A better man craves brotherhood, from which he not only benefits, but contributes.
After dating for some time, throwing a reception, exchanging your vows and finally getting married, you think it’s going to last forever. Alas, marriage is a fragile and sometimes ephemeral thing. Every man has his forte, and dealing with a divorce might not be the one thing you’re particularly good at. You know that sometimes it’s rather difficult to deal with your feelings, and it gets unimaginably difficult when you add another person’s rollercoaster of emotions to the equation. However, there are a few things you should have in mind that could help you with accepting the whole process and going through it. Here they are.
The past is in the past
When you invest a lot of time and energy into your marriage, and it breaks at one point, it’s normal to start remembering all the wonderful moments you’ve been through together. Nevertheless, you can’t let yourself be stuck in the past, as it won’t help your current situation one tiny bit. You have to be bent on getting the best you can out of it. Think about moving to a place you’ve always wanted to live at, invest some more time into your hobbies, friends, travel someplace new, anything that will positively affect your well-being. It takes time to process everything and remember who you were before your marriage, so try to turn the situation in your favour.
Engage with your kids
If you have kids, you should be reminded that the whole divorce might be taking a heavier toll on them that it is on you. Men tend to be reserved when it comes to opening up and talking about emotions, but you should take a different approach in order to play your role as a father. If you act your part, spend time with them, stay calm and be honest about what’s going on, this exposure to divorce shouldn’t be as difficult as it normally can be. With the help of family lawyers in Sydney, your divorce can go smoothly, and this swift process helps the kids handle the whole situation better. That’s why you should be cooperative and reasonable, which will speed up the process and make it easier for everyone involved.
Be respectful until the end
We all keep some of our emotions under our hats, but there is a limit for a healthy amount of that. If you’ve been repressing a lot of them over many years, divorce might be a stimulus to let them all out. It’s certainly a natural reaction to be angry, bewildered, irritated, and annoyed, but you should be careful as to how you’re releasing those feelings out into the world. Don’t go belittling your spouse, calling her names, or calling her out for something she did. Also, try to keep her private life a secret and forget about revenge or anything of that sort. Mutual respect is a life-saver.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help
Along the way, many triggers are bound to pop up, and you have to learn to cope with them. Some places, people, or everyday things around you will remind you of your spouse and it could cause all of the previously-experienced emotions to surge out once again. If you feel that you’re not doing well at those instances, think about going to therapy or reading self-help books. As little as a friendly conversation with your dear ones can also go a long way into making you feel better. Things get better over time, but you have to be patient when everything gets dark and gloomy, as that’s an integral part of a divorce.
Some things in life can’t be controlled or changed, and everything that’s left at those moments is to learn to accept and adapt to them. Try to slow down with rebounds and a hectic lifestyle that you might regret later, and make sure to slowly start establishing a new life. A post-divorce life is filled with numerous challenges, and the most important thing is to take care of your well-being and work on setting your new life on the right course.
In this episode of the Manlihood ManCast, Josh Hatcher talks about being RESOLUTE – making resolutions in the New Year that stick.
Make a Lifelong Resolution
Take some time this week to identify an area of your life that needs to change.
Your relationship with your spouse, your parenting skills, your work habits, launching a new career as a writer, becoming a more positive person – whatever it is that needs to change in your life.
And start meditating on what it means to change it permanently.
You don’t have to be stuck at a job you hate for the rest of your life. You don’t have to walk on eggshells because you are afraid your wife is going to leave you. You don’t have to be afraid about your kids making bad choices. You don’t have to be fat, or tired all of the time. All of those things can be fixed – but all of those things will require you to change. And change doesn’t happen overnight, and it doesn’t happen just because you say it will.
It starts with aligning your head and your heart with your destination, and it finishes when you fulfill your commitment. If you want to lose weight, you can lose it – but if you don’t commit to changes for the rest of your life you’re going to be in the same place you are now. You can resolve to be a better husband, but if you fall back into the same patterns of behavior, you’ll find yourself in the doghouse again.
It’s not just about changing behavior, it’s about changing your lifestyle.
That starts in your mind, and flows out from there – but change requires commitment, or you will always return to your old self by default.
Don’t be Swayed
Can you be defined as bold?
Can you be defined as steady?
When people see your life, do they see you as waffling, indecisive, and wavering?
In some ways it doesn’t matter what others think of you, and what their judgments are – but other times, your reputation is a good indicator of your character! Surround yourself with men who will challenge you and ask you the hard questions. Ask them if they see you as bold, steady, determined, resolute.
While we’re often talking about behavior changes, it’s important to note that bad behavior, overeating, mouthing off, addictions, etc. are the visible manifestations of an inner issue. You can try to change those things all you want, but these external problems stem from an internal one.
Resolving to change is not enough. You actually have to change. And that starts with changing the way you think.
I’ve found that I often need reminders to stay on track. A piece of jewelry, an item in my pocket, a post it note on my workstation or refridgerator that encourages me to stay the course can really give me a little push in in the right direction when I start to stray, or start to get weary of keeping my commitment.
Positive reinforcement is great, but sometimes you need a little negative reinforcement. Even something as simple as a rubber band, snapped against the wrist when my mind starts to want the thing that I shouldn’t have helps me associate that pleasure-able thing with pain, and while at first, many little red-skinned wrist snaps were uncomfortable, I find myself thinking less and less in the wrong direction.
In order to avoid being swayed from your path, you have to internalize the decision to change. You have to change the way you think. And that is really the hardest part.
What steps can you take to change your thinking?
Change your Mind
Remember those commercials for the NAACP that used to say, “A mind is a terrible thing to waste” ?
Those words have often haunted and sung in my head, because they highlight the value of the human mind. But they don’t even come close to describing the power of it.
I know that may sound like metaphysical mumbo-jumbo, but truth sometimes can sound a bit strange. Especially ancient truth.
The word “mindset” breaks down to imply that the mind is fixed like concrete or glue…. Hardened in the way that it thinks. And this perspective really helps us understand how to succeed and how to accomplish what it is we are meant to do. When we SET our mind on improving some area of our life – we will improve. Especially if we reinforce that concrete as often as we can with continual reminders of our destination.
What is a mindset? It’s simply what you think about, and how you think about it. Before we can talk about developing a healthy mindset, we need to talk about how you got your unhealthy mindset, and why it is unhealthy.
From the time you were born, you’ve heard lies about yourself and the world around you. If you hear a lie enough times, you start to believe that it’s true. If you tell yourself that you can’t lose weight – will you lose weight? If you tell yourself that you are worthless, will you ever find self-worth?
The first step in correcting your mindset involves the choice to identify and root out the lies about your situation. Identify the un-truth, call it like it is – and then move on to the next step, which is to identify the truth.
The truth is you CAN do it. The truth is you do have value.The truth is you ARE an addict in need of recovery. The truth is you have treated your wife like crap. The truth is you can change.
Identify the truth, good or bad, and then determine what changes need to be made in your lifestyle as you strive to chase that truth. If the truth is bad, focus on the corrective result that you want to see. “I’m an alcoholic, but I will kick this habit.” “I’m a crappy husband, but I will choose to be a better one.”
Cultivating that mindset means kicking out thoughts, daydreams, and internal dialogue if it goes against the positive direction that you want to go. Thoughts sometimes swirl around and get you off track, and it’s up to you to kick it out. How do you kick it out? It simply starts with telling it to go. Outloud if you have to. “Get out of my head. I am not stupid. I will pass this exam.”
You must also kick out the external voices that are holding you back. If your spouse is berating your attempts to improve, tell her that you need her support. If you are listening to music or watching television or movies that reinforce the bad habits or ideas, toss them out.
Changing your mind is not instant, nor is it simple. It take the discipline to “take captive every thought.” Whenever a thought comes into your head – take the time to evaluate it and file it appropriately. Is it positive, encouraging, true, motivating, brutally honest? Is it weak, passive, negative, destructive, dishonest?
You know which ones are good. Put the good ones in the right place – and kick the bad thoughts out.
Changing your mind also takes education. Read, attend seminars, classes, and groups to enrich and enlarge your mind. If you want to see change, you have to be properly equipped.
Replace Your Addictions with Habits
Probably the most common resolutions are “Quitting Smoking,” “Losing Weight,” or “Getting Healthy.” These resolutions, along with others, like getting sober, quitting drugs, and many others are in response to addictions.
Psychology Today defines addiction this way:
Addiction is a condition that results when a person ingests a substance (e.g., alcohol, cocaine, nicotine) or engages in an activity (e.g., gambling, sex, shopping) that can be pleasurable but the continued use/act of which becomes compulsive and interferes with ordinary life responsibilities, such as work, relationships, or health. Users may not be aware that their behavior is out of control and causing problems for themselves and others.
There are a number of different ways that we deal with addiction: We often trade one addiction for another. That’s why smokers who quit often gain weight…
There are so many facets to treating addiction, and getting to the root of the problem that we can’t get into here. I’m no expert, and even the experts have a variety of opinions on it. If you find yourself in need of more help, consult an expert.
In the meantime though, and especially in dealing with the smaller more manageable addictions – I can offer some advice.
Replace those addictions with good habits.
If you normally reach for a sugar soda to quench your thirst, replace it with ice water!
If you are addicted to caffeine, (by the way – the first three days of that addiction are the hardest!) Replace the need for a boost of energy with a quick burst of exercise or stretching! (My wife sells essential oils – I’ve found that a quick whiff of peppermint oil actually gives me almost the same boost of caffeine!)
Trying to quit smoking? If you are taking the smoke breaks out of your life, you have to replace them with something else that is GOOD for you.
Get together with your brothers-in-arms and talk about the addictions you need to cast off. Ask for advice, ask for accountability. Be honest with them about the struggles, and about the process. It may not be instant – sometimes screwing up is part of the process!