The courage we desire and prize is not the courage to die decently, but to live manfully. – Thomas Carlyle
I have a big red book on my desk. It’s always on my desk. It’s called the Synonym Finder. Anytime I’m stuck for a word or if I’m being redundant I flip it open and find a better word.
I can’t remember why or what I was writing, but I looked up the word “manliness”. Its synonyms are telling. Listed along with the obvious, manlihood and mansculinity, are words like strength, power, virility, force, might, vigor, red-bloodedness, fearlessness, boldness, daring, courage, resolution, fortitude, grit, stamina, and guts.
That’s why I’m writing this article. Becoming manlier doesn’t mean smoking more stogies or failing to ask for directions. It isn’t the comical manliness that sitcoms poke fun at. Being more manly is being better.
It’s simple. You’re a man. Becoming more of what you are good. Even characteristics like aggression and force are good. Society may tell you to calm down, to quell the burning fire or the rage or the power you have within, but society doesn’t have a clue what it needs, and it needs more strong, aggressive badasses innovating, building its roads and buildings, and protecting its borders.
Being more manly is being more successful, and it really doesn’t matter how you define success, becoming a better man and better at being a man will help you get there.
1. Gain power.
Power comes in many forms. First, gain power over yourself. To live manfully is to control what you can and not worry about controlling what you can’t.
Become more powerful physically. Gain power in your career. Have respect amongst your friends, family, and peers.
Power is winning. No matter the area of focus, become powerful.
2. Spend as much time out of your comfort zone as possible.
Growth can only occur outside of comfort.
That includes physical comfort as well.
Our society is blanketed by comfort and ease. Innovation is great, but it’s made us dependent on technology to do for us what we used to have to do for ourselves.
This had made us soft, all of us, and the best thing you can do is to do what others aren’t willing to do, and that’s to get uncomfortable as often as possible.
Go where you’re afraid to go. Spend more time in cold, harsh weather. Turn the heat down in your house in winter so your body has to heat itself. Do push ups in the morning. Get up earlier. Get outside more. Travel more. Work harder. Hunt.
Become tougher and better and manlier by spending less time being comfortable.
3. Dare to do and be what most are afraid to pursue.
Men, real men, are explorers and conquerors as well as fathers and scholars. Be both.
Explore places and things and ways of life that are foreign to you. Dare to go where most are afraid to go and do what most are afraid to do.
Daring is manly. It’s facing fear and moving forward in spite of that very real feeling.
Whatever you want to do, multiply it. Make that goal as daring as you can possibly make it. You won’t live the life you can live doing only what you know you can do. Aim higher. Dare mightier.
4. Become dangerous.
There’s being a good man, which is important, and there’s being good at being a man, which is equally important. Both are being lost on our younger generations where morality is archaic and living manfully is sexist.
Being good at being a man is a necessity, and rather than looking to the moral and the good, you look to our ancestors, the hunters, gatherers, and warriors that existed for thousands of years.
Men have had a pretty singular role for the majority of our existence, and that’s the role of warrior. Being more manly is being more dangerous. It doesn’t mean you carry out that capacity daily, but it’s in your back pocket should you need to fight, defend, or conquer.
Learn how to fight. Learn how to shoot. Learn how to hunt and face your fears.
5. Become unbreakable.
One of the greatest books I’ve ever read is a non-fiction book that wouldn’t be believable if it were fiction. The book is aptly named, Unbroken, and it chronicles the life of Louis Zamperini.
After reading that book and what Mr. Zamperini endured, you have no valid reason to complain about anything going on in your life, and that’s an extremely important aspect of becoming more manly.
Men don’t complain. Not only that, they put themselves in situations where they’ll have to endure more than the average fella or female. They volunteer for an arduous existence when most are content with an easier, safer, less challenging way of life.
To become unbreakable you have to push yourself to your breaking point, and then push yourself again and again. It’s the adoption of the strenuous life that Theodore Roosevelt called his nation to pursue.
Being more manly means waking up earlier, working harder, aiming higher, and daring mightier, and then waking up the next day and doing it all over again and again and again until your last breath has been taken.
6. Become oblivious.
There are things worth being concerned with, like the safety of your family, your work, career, craft. There are also things you should be oblivious to.
Don’t care so much about what others think. Hold the opinions of those who know you best in high regard because they’ll keep you honest, but the public, the Facebook crowd or Instagram crowd shouldn’t guide who you are, how you act, dress, or carry yourself.
Life isn’t a reality TV show. Social media makes us think everyone’s eyes are on us, but it’s a narcissistic and vain way to live, ignoring the fact that people have their own shit to worry about. (Read This: You’re Just Not That Important)
Don’t fret over the small stuff, the trivial. Being manly is knowing what deserves your attention.
7. Study often.
Don’t just read, study.
Living a manly life demands that you live one of awareness. If you have a craft you’re trying to learn and perfect, study how to become great at it. If you have a path you’re following, figure out the best, fastest way to get there.
Live life with some strategy, some purpose, focus, and direction.
Study philosophy, especially the Stoics. Study your faith. Study business and finance.
Always be learning, as soon as you think you know it all you make yourself useless.
If the time comes for heroism or action or violence, you’re going to fall back on your training or lack-there-of.
It’s a myth that people rise to the occasion. There is no rising, but a falling back, a dependence on what is innate. It’s up to you to train the toughness, skill, and effectiveness into your consciousness even just in case you’re ever needed.
Train your body. Train your mind. Train your soul to be able to endure more than the average man and one day it may pay off, and if it does, the reason for your being could be found in a moment of effective action.
9. Earn self-reliance.
We depend more on others or other things than at any other time in our history on this planet.
It’s made us soft.
We want to get warm, we flick a switch or turn a dial. There’s no lack of comfort in how we live. Comfort, however, isn’t where growth happens. It’s the difficult route that has to be taken instead of the easy route.
The grit and toughness and willingness to do what must be done that was common amongst Greatest Generation is almost non-existent amongst millennial’s.
Change that. Do the little things. Mow your lawn. Tend to your garden. Fix your toilet and make your own meals. (Read This: The Death of Self Reliance)
Living manfully isn’t being dependent on others. It’s knowing what you want, who you are, and doing what must be done.
Being handy was once a necessity as we couldn’t call someone to fix the tractor or tend to the horse or fix the faucet. We had to do it ourselves and we did it ourselves.
We couldn’t rely on approval from others because there was more solitude. We did activities like hiking or hunting for the sake of the experience, not so we could show others what we’re doing.
Think about the things you depend on unnecessarily. The social media for approval or even from an escape from boredom. The TV to pass time. Think of ways to better use your time to become better in less time.
Dependence creates weakness. Weakness isn’t a part of any definition of manliness.
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.