Being a man has never, and should never, be easy.
The entire idea of manliness and manhood is something to be achieved, something to aspire toward.
The Roman’s saw manliness as a virtue, as excellence in all things. (Read This: Have We Forgotten The Virtues of Manliness?)
That is, daily improvement.
Improvement requires pain, it demands you get out of the comfortable and do attempt what you aren’t certain you can achieve. That’s how we improve.
We do not improve by staying the same, in the same place, as the same man, and with the same abilities.
Winter provides a wonderful opportunity for pain and discomfort that a man must chase, not hide from in his house with central heating and espresso machines and artificial lighting.
Winter provides an opportunity to develop grit and toughness, to test your mettle, to leave laziness as a past companion you never return to again.
Depending on where you are, winter – at least the first part – is hunting season.
Hunting is about more than killing an animal and getting the food it provides for you and your family, it’s a connection to the past. Men have hunted for thousands upon thousands of years. The stalk, the shot, the harvesting of the animal, it’s primal, and it’s difficult.
It’s the difficulty that toughens you.
I’m very new to hunting. And I’m 32. Age doesn’t matter. If you want to do something, figure out how to do it, and do it. Just because you didn’t grow up hunting, doesn’t mean you can’t start, even on your own.
Hiking gives you the silence you need to find clarity, but also to hear that pussy in you that wants to quit before the summit is reached.
Hiking in winter provides obstacles, reasons to quit if you allow reason to dictate your adventure.
It gives you a challenge that hiking in summer doesn’t give. The cold and the snow and the ice try to hold you back, but you push forward.
Half the battle is doing the work during the week to be able to afford the time to get after it. It takes discipline to even be able to go for a hike or a hunt.
3. Early morning solitude.
The days are shorted in the winter, but that doesn’t mean your days have to be shorter.
I took Teddy for an early morning walk in the cold and dark park that’s a minute walk from my house. We got into the woods, saw some deer under the moonlight and some coyotes in the fields.
Winter provides opportunities for solitude and silence every day that the longer days of summer don’t allow. Seize them. Use these darker days to find clarity. Adjust your routine to take advantage of the woods when no one else goes outside.
Run with shorts and a t-shirt. Run in the cold, where the pain of the freezing wind on your face matches the pain of the lactic acid build up in your muscles. (Read This: How Running Can Make You a Better Man)
Pain is GOOD. Moving toward it and using it puts you ahead of 99% of the population.
Get after it.
5. Be outside every day.
The tendency for the winter months when it dips below -20 Celsius is to stay inside.
Get in the habit of doing morning walks and evening walks. Start doing whatever you can around the house to keep it and the yard in shape. Do what others don’t do because it makes them uncomfortable.
I take long walks with Teddy in the winter, usually because I let him run, he sees a deer, then I have to spend 45 minutes trying to get him back as he runs after the thing.
No one else is out. I can play fetch with the guy, let him run around and do what he can’t do when every other human in the park is looking at me wrong for letting my pup run around – and the park rangers are out looking for people who let their dogs run loose, and fining them $150.
Walk, run, hike, hunt, explore.
Don’t let this wonderful season pass you by without a little danger being had, without stories to tell and grit gained.
About The Author
Chad Howse: Chad’s mission is to get you in the arena, ‘marred by the dust and sweat and blood’, to help you set and achieve audacious goals in the face of fear, and not only build your ideal body, but the life you were meant to live.