This is an older post I’ve written on this topic.
Many things have been said on the topic of manhood and I’ve found that most information I’ve encountered was actually pretty confusing or down-right false. I’ve always wondered how I could be a “real” man. What is the definition a man? What defines the people we see as “manly”?
And I’ve asked that question to numerous sources, but to no avail. Here is a little introduction video that kind of described how I used to feel about this topic;
When I was young(er), I’d always look up to “real” men and wanted to be just like them. That goal hasn’t changed, only my perception of manhood changed. So in this post I’ve decided to clearly outline what it exactly means to be a man for me.
I write this post for myself in the quest of becoming a “real” man since I’ve found it hard to discover what it really means to be a man these days. A lot of people have different opinions on this subject which have confused me over the years. Some say a man is defined by his money, his status and the clothes he wears. Whilst others say it’s his education, skills and interests that defines a man. I’ve come to realize that these perceptions on manhood don’t fit my interpretation so I made up my own! Here’s my perception on how to be a man.
These days I look around the world and find very few role models that have actually shaped their lives the way they want to. They’ve let fate decide what to do with them and have become lost from the true meaning of the word man. I see boys trying to make up externally for what they lack in internal strength. They present themselves as they would like to be.
They get “badass” tattoos, take steroids, join the army, buy a motorcycle, do drugs, act cool and tough whilst solely chasing money, women, status, possessions and short-term pleasures. They do this to make up for their lacking identity (described later in this post.) In the long-term this results in depressions, mid-life crisis or at least a strong feeling of discontent about their situation. These feelings kick in because we (consciously or subconsciously) realize that we’ve failed to complete our purpose on this planet and therefore we feel miserable.
But we can’t really blame them though. No-one teaches you what exactly “manhood” means. I’ve often wondered about the defining traits of a real man. In this day and age no-one (or very few) seem to remember what the word “man” once used to mean. We just base ourselves on the external attributes we see as “manly”
In my opinion, the main reason why men are disconnected from their manhood is because challenge (a.k.a. growth) isn’t valued anymore in our world of instant gratification, comfort and security. This caused us to disconnect from life itself. (since life = growth)
“What doesn’t grow, is dying” – Unknown
Life has become so easy these days that we have lost the need to survive (it’s practically guaranteed.) Men have become dormant.
I’ve read quite a lot of articles and books lately that have helped me (somewhat) in figuring out how to be a man. So over the past years I’ve collected little nuggets of wisdom and indicators that have cleared up my definition of what it means to be a man.
I’ve no intention to touch upon the superficial traits that “define” a man. I want to go much deeper than that because the real essence of manhood can only be found on the inside.
Take note that I haven’t achieved man-status in my eyes yet but I am determined to improve myself until the day I deserve that title. I also want to encourage you to do the same. It’s a very powerful
idea to become everything you can possibly achieve. One to cherish in your heart.
I have a vision of a better world, for myself and others and will not settle for anything less than I rightfully deserve (and neither should you). These goals I’ve set for myself will require me to actually become a man.
So without further ado, here is my definition of man;
A Man Is Grounded
“A lack of authentic identity is most ruinous to a soul” – unknown
A real man knows who he is on the inside. He never perceives himself as lower value to anyone else. He has no competition and is never jealous, because he knows that he has value to offer the world. He doesn’t put himself above others because he recognizes that he is equal to all men and therefore doesn’t need to prove himself to others.
A real man’s identity is based upon right principles and morality. He believes in universal truths and lives accordingly. His confidence and inner strength are based upon who he is as a person and not on what he is.
A man of pure thoughts cannot possibly suffer. (quote from the book “As a Man Thinketh” by James Allen
A Man Is Strong
“Don’t pray for an easy life, pray for the strength to endure a difficult one” – Bruce Lee
A man’s mind is a piece of art. It contains the capability to shape his own reality and therefore the circumstances he lives in. A man is determined to reach his goals and will accomplish them by his persistence, work ethic and dedication to what he wants. His road isn’t always clear and there are many obstacles blocking his path but he won’t let that fear consume him. He is the master of his thoughts.
He recognizes all difficulties as challenges and always chooses to overcome these, knowing he’ll be a better, stronger man than he was before. He welcomes new challenges and actively searches for new ones. In these challenges, a man realizes that his short term sacrifices will result in long term gratifications. He cannot fail since he recognizes all failure as experiences.
Challenges and experience is what internalizes his identity. I’ve written another post on this titled “How to build character”
A man is intelligent and self-educated in the things that interest him the most. He recognizes that he doesn’t know everything and accepts truthful authority! He Is aware that he isn’t an expert in all areas and respects the knowledge of others. That modesty is exactly what makes him a wise man.
A man is in great physical shape. This doesn’t mean that he needs to have a six-pack or big biceps. It just mean that he understands the value of physical strength and has the ability to protect the ones he cares about the most. I personally believe every man should take great care of his body since it is the only one you get in your entire life (unless you read this in the future where brain transplants are possible – then go ahead!)
You might think this is an “external factor” but I recognize the body as a reflection of the mind as I described it in a previous post titled “Why do I train?”
A Man Has Purpose
“The purpose of life is to discover your gift. The meaning of life is to give your gift away.”– David Viscott
A man is defined by his purpose. His never ending love for his one true passion. He never lets anything (not even his relationship) come before his inner most calling. Which is to reach his maximum potential and share this gift with the world.
A real man knows where he wants to go in his life and has a never ending hunger for growth. He knows what he wants and isn’t prepared to settle for anything less. He takes whatever he wants (in alignment with morality offcourse). He’s clear about the direction he is taking and why he is going that way. He might not always know how he is going to reach what he has set out to do but that doesn’t stop him. He’s a man on a mission.
A man’s priorities are as followed;
- Deepest Love (purpose)
- Friends & Family
A Man Has Control
“One’s greatest challenge is to control oneself.” – Kazi Shams
A man is in full control of his emotions and behavior. He recognizes he is responsible for his own life and doesn’t blame others for his circumstances. He has the ability to change his state whenever he wants to and is in full control of his emotions. He has the power to feel the way he wants to feel by shifting his focus or changing his attitude.
This doesn’t mean that a man is not allowed to show his emotions. This isn’t true at all. He only recognizes that there are times in which he needs to be strong when he isn’t.
A man doesn’t leach value of others. He knows how to contribute to the world and loves to share his knowledge and gifts with others. He provides for himself and his family. He isn’t useless.
A real man has acquired his freedom. He doesn’t let his life be limited by others in any way. He fights for the things he wants and would rather die on his feet than live on his knees. A real man’s heart and mind cannot be caged without his own consent.
A man knows how to relate to everyone within the different social classes. He can talk intelligently with “high-status” people but also converse with the common folk. He is liked by many and knows how to treat others. He also understands the value of each word and therefore chooses his wisely. He also knows how to treat women.
So what do you have to take away from this post? What does it essentially mean to be a man? In my eyes a real man is defined by his grounded identity based on morality, his strength (mental as physical), his eternal quest for living according to his purpose and his unparalleled self-control and undying hunger for self-development in all areas. (mouthful)
Anyway, this post has been on my mind for quite some time and I’m glad I’ve written it. It has become a bit more extensive than I would’ve guessed, but I really can’t say this in fewer words (without losing clarity.) I believe a clear and detailed description is what provides the most value.
If you happen to think of any internal traits I’ve missed or have any other questions or thoughts on this topic, feel free to share them with me in the comment section below.