by Grant J Everett
Males are constantly fed a lot of junk about what being a “proper” man is all about. If television is to be believed (and it isn’t) then every guy wants nothing more than to engage in shallow relationships with as many different women as possible, avoid all responsibility, and generally live their whole lives as immature man-children. Apparently the word “marriage” means “caught in a perpetual sex drought,” and let’s not forget about having to support a bunch of irritating, wise-cracking money-burning kids!
It’s a standard television trope to portray all men as incompetent, childish, and self-absorbed, despite the fact that in the real world this cliché is overwhelmingly untrue. Unfortunately, if you repeat something often enough, people will start to believe it, and the younger the viewer is the more deeply such messages can get ingrained. Far too many men from the next generation will remain without direction or purpose due to this ongoing confusion about who they are as modern blokes, and where they fit into an ever-changing society.
Here are a few factors that are affecting many modern guys.
Boys have a strong need for accomplishment and challenge. It’s the hunter within us trying to break free from centuries of suppression. However, studies suggest that video games can sap this drive to pursue actual accomplishments, as excessive gaming will satisfy this need without leaving you with anything to show for it (Hardy, 2015). This means that hardcore gamers won’t feel as much of a need to go outside and solve real problems. I personally know how satisfying it is to unlock an Achievement on an Xbox 360: lights flash, triumphant sound effects blare, and you want to hit that button again and again and again. It’s the same kind of deliberately addictive feedback you get from poker machines.
Excessive gaming gets in the way of relationships and other meaningful life pursuits, sometimes permanently. The Australian Bureau of Statistics found that a huge fifteen percent of divorces filed by Australian women state that their (soon to be ex) husbands prefer playing video games to spending time with them as a factor of why they want a divorce (Whatcott, 2011). As Australia grants anywhere from 45,000 to 50,000 divorces each year (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2014), this means that excessive video game use plays some role in up to 7,500 divorces every twelve months!
When it comes to study, short, intensive sessions of learning followed by exercise is a powerful way for males to retain what they’ve been taught. Testosterone is triggered by physical activity, such as sprinting or weight lifting, and this most male of hormones produces positive effects such as weight loss, muscle gain and thicker bone density, to name just a few, and it also does wonders for your blood pressure. Better yet, releasing some testosterone will lower your likelihood of obesity and heart attacks, and increase your energy levels. Testosterone does great things for your focus, motivation, and memory, too. If guys live an unmoving life, they’re probably not getting the stimulation they need to learn and evolve (Hardy, 2015).
So, do you want to feel younger, stronger, sexier, and healthier? Pump some iron. Want to be better in the sack? Pump some iron. Want to…okay, you get the point.
In his book Boys Adrift, Dr Leonard Sax explains that males need responsibility. If males aren’t needed, they don’t flourish. Unfortunately, society seems to be promoting the message that men aren’t as essential as they once were, and this is one factor in why hordes of grown males are living rent-free in their parents’ basements and playing Grand Theft Auto for sixteen hours a day. Although this doesn’t mean we have to go out of our way to take on every unnecessary challenge we come across, for the sake of our health and peace of mind we need to do something of value to other people.
Setting your sights extremely high is essential if you want to achieve incredible things. No matter if you’re male or female, raise your standards all the way to the moon, because life isn’t a rehearsal.
Soaring like an eagle, or flapping with turkeys?
You are who you associate with. If you want to evolve, you’ll need to remove negative influences. This might be difficult, as misery loves company. However, when you decide to surround yourself with people who uplift and inspire you, your life will improve.
It’s getting rare for people to commit to anyone or anything these days. However, being in a committed relationship has been proven to reduce our chances of illness and increases our lifespan. Other benefits of long-term commitments include greater satisfaction in life, increased happiness, being less likely to abuse substances, a decreased likelihood of depression, and better self-care.
As men, challenge and responsibility is precisely what we need to thrive. Get out there, do what you were born to do, and live a life of meaning and fulfillment.
Hardy, B (2015). 10 Habits That Change Boys Into Men
ABS (2015). Marriages and Divorces Australia
Whatcott, A (2011). Video-game addiction blamed for 15 percent of divorces.