The Guide to Evolving into an Even Better Man
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Each new phase of life requires a further evolved version of the man we are today. So, how do we go about creating him?
I often find myself contemplating how I can improve in all areas of life. How can I be a better boyfriend? A better son? A better brother? How can I be a better role model to my girlfriend’s daughters? How can I be a better friend? And most of all — how can I create an even deeper sense of pride in the man I have worked to become?
My belief has always been that, while we don’t often voice them publicly, many other men struggle with the same questions.
As our lives evolve over time, we are presented with new challenges and opportunities to grow and develop. How we face each new circumstance shows us what we’re made of.
While I often fall short, I’ve found these strategies to be helpful in staying the course:
1. Go the extra mile, always.
One of the things I’ve begun doing lately is changing the way I say “thank you.” Whether it is a cashier at the grocery store or barista at the drive-through coffee shop, I always say some variant of “Thanks so much, I really appreciate it.” More than a simple “Thanks,” communicating a stronger sense of gratitude for someone’s service makes both of your days a little brighter.
With those we care about, we mustn’t lose sight of their wants, needs, and desires. It is natural to get caught up in our own realities, but remembering to pick up that little snack at the grocery store or sending that random appreciation text to your significant other will reinforce how much you love and care for them.
Let someone go in traffic. Use your turn signal. Do something for someone who can do nothing for you in return. Small extra steps often make the loudest statements.
2. Never make a promise you don’t intend to keep.
Darren Hardy once remarked:
“Commitment is doing what you said you would, long after the mood you said it in has passed.”
The quicker the world seems to revolve around us, the easier it is to overlook commitments and promises we’ve made. Perhaps we think (hope) that the recipient will simply forget about it, but even if they do, staying true to your word is a sign of honor and integrity.
When you make a pledge to yourself to only offer what you can deliver on, the results will be two-fold:
You will make fewer, but more meaningful promises. And, you will build credibility with those around you (and with yourself)as someone who means what they say, and says what they mean.
3. Properly fuel your body and mind.
Simple, but so often overlooked.
Stagnant desk jobs (or these days, working from home) are a breeding ground for poor health decisions. As if sitting down all day wasn’t harmful enough to your body, the ease of ordering a quick (and unhealthy) meal doubles up on the problem.
Sedentary days lead to lazy nights, as it’s even more difficult to garner the energy or desire to do something creative or active after the day is done. Subsequently we resort to Netflix binges or mindless scrolling on our phone until it’s time to hit the sack and do it all over again the next day.
There’s nothing wrong with rewarding yourself with some “fluff,” but reward is the key word.
Replace music on your commute with audiobooks or podcasts. Commit to working a documentary into your Netflix routine. Hop onto YouTube and start your day with a free body weight workout. The small habits we create on a daily basis quite literally shape the reality (and the body) that we live in.
4. Improve your communication skills.
Written, verbal, and non-verbal communication are the keys to expressing our ideas and our identity to the world.
Watch, listen to, and read work by those you admire and have developed a reputation of being effective in their methods. There is an infinite amount of free information at your fingertips. Find people whose style you can relate to and allow it to influence your own. Shape your communication style by adapting what has worked for others to your individual approach. Record videos of yourself and observe your tone and body language. Write stories or opinions about topics and ask friends for feedback. Engage in thoughtful discussion online. The opportunities are endless.
5. Learn to cook well.
If we want to operate at optimal levels, both our mind and body must be properly fueled, as mentioned in point #3. Doing so with proper nutrition is not easily achieved if we rely on takeout or restaurant meals for the majority of our diet.
Being creative in the kitchen opens up new opportunities for exploring not only what works best for your palate, but for what best serves you mentally and physically.
Plus, women dig it.
6. Practice gratitude daily.
The famous Jim Rohn once proclaimed: “learn to be happy with what you have while you pursue all that you want.” This simple but poignant lesson about gratitude helps to ground us when we put all of our focus on where we are going, at the expense of enjoying where we are.
It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of pursuing or accomplishing a new goal, but if we are always chasing that dopamine hit, we won’t stop to actually enjoy the moment (or the people in it).
Each morning before getting out of bed, take a moment to feel the deep gratitude for the people and freedoms you have in your life. For extra bonus points, express this gratitude to those you feel it for.
7. Explore deeper conversations with those different from you.
The internet and social media have made it easier than ever to stay inside of our pre-chosen bubbles.
We choose which pages we follow, which friends we accept, which information we interact with.
And then, algorithms feed us even more of the same types of stuff.
Before long, we’re living inside of a fishbowl that we don’t even know exists, only having conversations that confirm our already one-sided bias.
Stepping outside of this comfort zone is difficult because it means that we might realize we’ve been wrong about something (or many things). This is why most avoid it and never break the pattern (See: Confirmation bias, cognitive dissonance).
Further resulting disadvantages are prejudice and discrimination as we steep ourselves further into the “Us vs. Them” mindset that shuts out anyone who comes from a different political viewpoint, religion, race, gender, or sexual orientation.
A one-dimensional life is the inevitable outcome. New and diverse information and cultures are what make for a rich and curious life, a deeper understanding of the world around us, and the opportunity to build meaningful relationships with humans of all kinds.
8. Take pride in grooming and appearance.
There is no one way any of us “should” look. As referenced in #7, variety and diversity are what make the world a very cool place to live in.
What does make the difference, is how we execute the image we’ve chosen to show the world.
The way you dress, talk, walk, and carry yourself, all express your identity to those around you. Who are you? What do you value? How have you chosen to show up in this universe?
Gone are the days of suits on airplanes, fedoras, and 3-piece suits (unfortunately), but taking pride in whatever style choices you do make is a sign of respect both for yourself and those around you.
9. Practice patience.
The world is moving faster than ever, and we can access almost everything we want by opening an app on our phone. We can order food, find a job, or and even get a date with a swipe or push of a button.
The result is an instant gratification society who is losing its ability to be patient, calm, and understanding when things take longer than we are used to.
What’s more is that deep and meaningful things (skill development, long term relationships) are not instantly achieved and require us to be patient and deliberate with our approach.
Undertaking tasks and setting goals that are specifically longer-term will help us to hone and develop our ability to not just “wait,” but maintain a positive mindset and perspective in the process.
10. Work to understand your relationships.
Particularly true for heterosexual men, a deeper understanding of the female brain helps us learn the basics of attraction, relationships, communication, and emotional connection.
So many men complain about not being able to understand women, yet so few men put in the time and effort to actually do so.
Communicate, ask questions, pay attention. We will never be able to predict or fully understand how or why an individual human being does what he or she does, but we can gain a greater understanding of how the human brain works and become better at navigating the waters.
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