Want to Feel Like a Man? Then Act Like One

by Brett on May 13, 2012 · 131 comments

in A Man's Life, On Manhood

Since starting The Art of Manliness nearly five years ago, I’ve interacted with thousands of men from all over the world. One thing that I’ve learned over the years is that many grown men out there simply don’t feel like men. I’m not talking about “feeling like a man” in the cartoonish, hyper-masculine sense. Rather, I’m talking about “feeling like a man” in the sense of that quiet confidence that comes from moving from boyhood into mature masculinity.

Many of the guys I’ve talked to (particularly the ones in their 20s and 30s) have confessed to me that they still feel like a teenage boy walking around in a grown man’s body. Because they don’t feel like mature men, many of these young men are putting off adult responsibilities like careers, families, and civic involvement until they can look at themselves in the mirror and say: “I’m a man.”  In the meantime, these young men drift insecurely through life, wondering when they’ll finally start feeling like grown men.

We’ve talked a lot on the site about why young men today are struggling with the transition from boyhood to mature masculinity–lack of a rite of passage and positive male mentors, a faulty definition of manhood, and sociological and economical shifts are just a few of the reasons we’ve discussed.

While all those things have certainly contributed to the enervated state of modern masculinity, I think an underlying problem is that young men today are simply following modern, conventional wisdom on how a person “becomes” who they want to be.

I’ll Do It When I Feel Like It

Conventional wisdom tells us that before we do something, we first need to feel like doing it or feel like the kind of person who would do that sort of thing. And in order to feel like doing something, the thinking goes, you need to get in the right mindset, “find yourself,” or discover your “deep inner truth.”

So young men following conventional wisdom drift through life waiting until they feel like a man before they take their place in the circle of men. They believe that at some magical moment in the future, they’ll feel like a grown man, and once that happens they’ll finally have the motivation to start doing manly things. Or they read books, meditate about masculinity, and attend weekend men’s retreats, hoping that they’ll start to feel like a man through pondering manhood. But they don’t seem to make much progress. Sure, they have their moments of inspiration, but when the retreat is over or the book is finished, they’re back to feeling insecure about their status as men.

But the problem with conventional wisdom on how a person “becomes” is that it doesn’t work. At least not very well. Nine times out of ten you won’t magically start feeling like a man by simply thinking about becoming a man. So how can you start feeling like the man you’ve always wanted to be? By following the advice given by both ancient philosophers and modern psychologists: to feel like a man, you have to act like a man.

Ancient and Modern Wisdom on Becoming

Several ancient cultures and religions taught the way to belief and personal identity was not through contemplation, but rather though action. They understood the power that our outward actions have on our inner psyche.

According to the Torah, when Moses stood atop Mount Sinai and presented his people the stone tablets with the Law of Jehovah inscribed upon them, the Hebrews spoke in unison “na’aseh v’nishma,” which meansWe will do and we will understand.Basically the Hebrews covenanted that they would live the Law first, in the hope that through living the law they would eventually come to understand it.  Today, this statement represents a Jewish person’s commitment to live all the Law of Moses even if they don’t fully understand the reasons behind each commandment. Modern rabbis teach that na’aseh v’nishma is how one comes to understand God and His laws for man. By living the outward ordinances, a change happens within.

Esquire editor and self-proclaimed “Jew in the same sense that the Olive Garden is Italian food,”  A.J. Jacobs put the principle of na’aseh v’nishma to the test in his hilarious memoir, A Year of Living Biblically: One Man’s Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible. Jacobs didn’t just try to live the Ten Commandments perfectly for a year, but also the over 600 obscure laws found throughout the Bible, like not shaving the corners of your beard, blowing a shofar before prayer, and not sitting where a menstruating woman has sat (that one got him in trouble with his wife).

Coming from a scientific and agnostic family, Jacobs saw many of the rituals and laws of his cultural heritage as strange and irrational. But after a year of trying to live according to the Bible, Jacobs felt his attitude shift about religious rituals and even the divine. While he didn’t convert from being a secular Jew into a full-on theist, Mr. Jacobs now considers himself a “reverent agnostic,” who believes “that whether or not there’s a God, there is such a thing as sacredness. Life is sacred.” Jacobs credits his attitude shift to living Biblical principles even when he wasn’t sure of the reason behind them; he acted first without understanding to become a more reverent person.

The Greek philosopher Aristotle taught something similar to na’aseh v’nishma in his Nicomachean Ethics. In the Nicomachean Ethics Aristotle lays out his idea of the “Good Life” and how to obtain it.  For Aristotle the Good Life meant living a life of virtue. Unlike some Greek philosophers who believed that virtuous living came only from pondering upon the virtues, Aristotle believed that understanding wasn’t enough. To become virtuous, you had to act virtuous.

But the virtues we get by first exercising them, as also happens in the case of the arts as well. For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them, e.g., men become builders by building and lyreplayers by playing the lyre; so too we become just by doing just acts, temperate by doing temperate acts, brave by doing brave acts.

Virtues don’t come through simply thinking about them. You have to “exercise them.” Aristotle’s promise is this: if you want a virtue, act as if you already have it and then it will be yours. Change comes through action. Act first, then become.

The Patron Saint of Manliness, Teddy Roosevelt, also lived by this principle of acting in order to become. He said:

There were all kinds of things I was afraid of at first, ranging from grizzly bears to “mean” horses and gun-fighters; but by acting as if I was not afraid I gradually ceased to be afraid.

Teddy wanted to be fearless even though he wasn’t. Instead of sitting around and thinking his way into courage, TR put himself into dangerous and uncomfortable situations and acted courageously. Eventually he became the man who led the charge up San Juan Hill and journeyed down an unexplored river in the Amazon. He took action in order to become the man he wanted to be.

Modern psychologists have a theory on why acting-to-become is such an effective way of changing who you are and how you feel about yourself: cognitive dissonance. When there’s a conflict between your self-perception and how you’re actually behaving, you experience dissonance or tension, and your brain moves to close the gap by shifting how you feel about yourself to match how you’re acting.

In her book, The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter and How to Make the Most of Them Now, adult developmental psychologist Meg Jay recounts an exchange she had with a 27 year old male client named Sam who had been drifting along for most of his adult life while living in his parents’ basement:

“It’s weird,” Sam said. “The older I get, the less I feel like a man.”

“I’m not sure you’re giving yourself much to feel like a man about,” I offered.

Sam had it all backward. The way he saw it, he couldn’t join the world until he felt like a man, but he wasn’t going to feel like a man until he joined the world.

Dr. Jay goes on to share how Sam’s attitude about himself started to change once he began doing grown man things like starting a career, establishing a committed romantic relationship, and moving out of his parents’ basement and into his own place. Sam started to act like a man and consequently he began to feel like one. He gave himself something to feel like a man about.

Here’s the bottom line: If you don’t feel like a man, you simply need to start behaving like the man you want to become and eventually you’ll start feeling like you’re that man. Act as if. Fake it until you make it.  Your brain will eventually align your attitude/belief about yourself with your new behavior.

Your Act Like a Man to Feel Like a Man Roadmap

If you’re ready to start feeling like the man you’ve always wanted to be, today’s the day you begin that journey. Like any journey, it’s nice to have a map:

1. Figure out what sort of man you want to be.  Please don’t misunderstand. I’m not saying that contemplating manliness is a waste of time. Far from it. As we argued in Manliness Doesn’t Just Happen, contemplating masculinity and manliness is an essential step in becoming an honorable man. It’s not enough to know you need to act, you also need to know what actions to take. What should we start doing? Where do we hope our actions will lead us? So begin at the end. What sort of man do you want to become? Maybe you have a personal hero or a grandfather or a mentor who personifies your ideal version of manhood. Once you know what kind of man you want to be, study and contemplate how that sort of man would live his life. What would he do when facing adversity?  What would his daily routine be like? How would he dress? How does he treat his significant other? Form a Cabinet of Invisible Counselors to guide you on your journey.

2. Start doing the things that sort of man would do. Even if you don’t feel like it. Once you know what sort of things your ideal man would do, start doing them, and here’s the most important part, do them even if you don’t feel like it. Some of the stuff you’ll have to do will be hard, some it may make you feel uncomfortable, and some of it will make you feel like a phony. Ignore those feelings. That’s just the Resistance, as Steven Pressfield would say. Know that with time, your new manful actions will transform the way you feel about yourself. You will begin to see yourself as a man.

3. Virile agitur for the rest of your life. Even when you go through a rite of passage that really transforms you and puts you on the right path, you can’t rest on your laurels. Becoming a man is not a one time decision or event: it’s something you have to choose every day. It’s like shaving; just because you do it once doesn’t mean you’re done; you still have to wake up and do it again in the morning. Virile agitur is a Latin phrase which means, “The manly thing is being done.” Is being done. Always and forever ongoing. Take that as your motto for manhood.

{ 131 comments… read them below or add one }

1 James Kirk May 13, 2012 at 11:06 pm

Wow this was really inspiring!

2 Grayson May 13, 2012 at 11:09 pm

the content of the post is something i have believed in for a long time. i like the fake it till you make it mentality.
does anyone know how to pronounce na’aseh v’nishma?

3 Andres May 13, 2012 at 11:18 pm

Great job,, as usual!!

4 Matthew May 13, 2012 at 11:20 pm

@Grayson I’m pretty sure it’s phonetic, since it’s been written as such.

And personally, I think this mentality affects a whole lot more than just being a man. Really, it’s with doing anything you don’t think you’re capable of.

5 Aaron May 13, 2012 at 11:35 pm

Great article, as always, but extra kudos on using God’s personal name, Jehovah.

6 caleb May 13, 2012 at 11:35 pm

Sorry. I can old read Hebrew in Aramaic script. Didn’t learn the transliteration.

It is amazing how much you can change your outlook be changing your actions. A calm demenor in bad sitatuions calms everyone else. Sometimes you even have to trick yourself :)

7 caleb May 13, 2012 at 11:36 pm

* only read *by changing. Sheesh.

8 Jeremy Putman May 13, 2012 at 11:41 pm

Excellent word and a proper reminder. I’ve drifted through life not thinking about the goal, therefore not really becoming anything. I recently purposed to set goals, persist one step at a time, and muster the courage to act in the face of fear.

I’m looking forward to the time when that fear does not seem so great. Good Roosevelt quote. I’ll take that one with me.

9 neal May 13, 2012 at 11:41 pm

Brett,

Thanks for this. I’m a reserved, introspective, kind of selfish and sometimes immature 29 year old, and the idea that I want to wait to do something until I “feel like it” is I think one of the big things holding me back from bigger and better things.

If I’d waited to have a kid until I “felt like it,” I probably wouldn’t have a daughter now, and I’d be playing a lot more video games. Because, frankly, I almost always feel like playing computer games. But looking back on my life, I’m about a billion times more proud of my two-year old daughter, of having to get up in the night with her, of changing her diaper, of doing the things for her upkeep that I very rarely feel like doing, but that in retrospect I know are making me a bigger and better person. Thanks to my wife for having the guts to make it happen.

I still feel like a teenager trapped in a 29-year-old’s body…but every once in a while I see myself in the mirror or in a picture with my daughter, and I think…that’s a dad right there. A father. I couldn’t pinpoint exactly when it happened (and frankly sometimes I still stare at my daughter like she’s an alien coming out of somebody’s belly), but having to act like a father is starting to turn me into one.

Anyway, lots of good thoughts here, thanks for prompting me to think about it some more.

10 Naija lifestyle May 13, 2012 at 11:48 pm

It’s the change in lifestyle of the modern times that makes even 30 year olds still act like teenage boys. Technology is a factor and this situation is common in dev countries like the US . In Africa a 20 year old may be fending for his wife and kids but its mostly in rural areas thats why I said the modern times is a big factor. Understand my rant ?

11 Michael May 13, 2012 at 11:51 pm

Another excellent article. Thanks for the tips! This means a lot to me (and probably many of us) more than you can imagine. Inspiration at its finest.

12 Darren May 13, 2012 at 11:56 pm

A very interesting read. I loved the bit about the Hebrews and their response. From a Christian’s point of view, I believe it can be said that in choosing to follow Jesus, though our understanding may be limited, we become men after God’s own heart.

Grayson, I believe it is pronounced “na-sah v’nish-ma”. That’s after listening to a Jewish teacher.

13 Douglas May 14, 2012 at 12:01 am

This reminds me of the Mankind Project and one of its goals — the need for a positive, empowering, real male initiation in our society that has really nothing like that anymore. Thanks for a great article!

14 chris May 14, 2012 at 12:15 am

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit. Aristotle

So we are what we do, and if we do it enough, we become great at it.

15 Dan May 14, 2012 at 12:39 am

Great article! That really hit home for me. I’m 29 going on 30, but I still don’t really see myself as man. I have a career, but I still kinda feel like a college kid most of the time. I’ll keep this advice in mind, thanks!

16 Adam May 14, 2012 at 12:48 am

Awesome, and dead on. I constantly think about the man that I want to be, but when my actions don’t line up with these images of myself, it only has the effect of making me feel worse about myself. I recall times that I’ve been on a roll with productive behaviors (acting proactively, giving things my full effort, never procrastinating etc.), and the difference in how I feel about myself when ACTING this way is quite profound. This is basically what is right under the nose of every boy, young or old, who wishes to become a man. We all know it’s there, but most of us choose not to recognize it. We merely continue to dream of our lives as men, trying desperately to discover ways to reach manhood when the only solution is to become men through our actions.

This article hit home. Nice work Brett.

17 Jimmy May 14, 2012 at 12:57 am

Related reading: Wild at Heart by John Eldredge. Gives proper perspective to the role and purpose of man, and what it means to be one.

18 Jimmy May 14, 2012 at 12:58 am

Related reading: Wild at Heart by John Eldredge. Gives proper perspective to the role and purpose of man, and what it means to be one. (As originally intended.)

19 Robert Honan May 14, 2012 at 1:08 am

In tech, we have an old saying, “Fake it until you can make it.” I remember the first tech job where I was made a lead tech. I knew the tech side of the job real well, but I’d never been in charge of a team in a professional environment. I also had less experience than some of the guys under me. My first day as a lead, my manager reminded me of that saying, and said he knew I had it in me to do the job, I just had to pretend I knew what I was doing until I actually did.

He was right, because that was when I became a man. Once I started acting the role of a mature and responsible adult, it became a part of who I was.

20 Mark May 14, 2012 at 2:18 am

Wow, amazing article. I liked the part about Moses and the Hebrews. I would also like to add that in the bible it says to “let the weak say they are strong”. I believe this related. Many people today do not realize the power of their thoughts and the effect that negative and positive thoughts can have on you physically, mentally, and spiritually. Even, in the world of medicine, doctors are giving more attention to attitude and mindset of the patient. Studies are showing that the patient’s attitude has a correlation with tge recovery rate. We have more control over ourselves than we know.

21 Dominik May 14, 2012 at 3:19 am

Great article that reminded me of one of my favorite quotes by Marcus Aurelius:

“Waste no more time arguing what a good man should be. Be one.”

It’s short, it’s straight to the point, it’s helpful.

22 Ian Reide May 14, 2012 at 3:46 am

Interesting and excellent article. I tend to agree with your potpourri of factors: “lack of a rite of passage and positive male mentors, a faulty definition of manhood, and sociological and economical”.

I feel that a year away for a young man (and woman), travelling, working, studying, would be a big help.

23 AJR May 14, 2012 at 6:22 am

I can empathise with this completely. I dallied with a few careers after leaving university, blaming the entire world each time I got knocked down. I ended up working in a supermarket and hating every day, living with my parents at the age of 30, existing only to do the job I hated. It took a painful break-up, the realisation I was being bullied at work and a death in the family to shake me out of it. I realised I had been waiting for adulthood to happen to me rather than taking it. Now I am back studying, but putting everything into it and well on the way to becoming a Paramedic, almost out of debt (not ideal, but very difficult to avoid as a student in the UK) and taking on the responsibility of running my sub-aqua club. I have even shifted some of my lard, because the man I will be does not look like a sack of potatoes.

24 Erika Powell-Burson May 14, 2012 at 6:46 am

This also hearkens to James Allen’s “As a Man Thinketh”… Surely to ‘act’ one must first ‘think’, albeit faith and courage are needed to ‘do’ before ‘understanding’.

25 Claude Warner May 14, 2012 at 6:47 am

Sometimes the contexts a.k.a challenges that life hands you can be the greatest gifts as, having sucessfully faced and overcome that unavoidal challenge, you have a greater sense of knowing that “you have what it takes”.

I became a father at age 23 and it provided a context for a huge growth experience.

Add to that several other other significant challenges over the years and now, as a 50 year old, I can begin to feel that I have “grown up”.

My growth journey has translated into where I now work as a full time corporate and life coach.

My pain has had an ultimate purpose.

One closing comment though, the “fake it until you make it” idea feels somewhat inauthentic. I am not saying that the concept is not valuable.

To me I would feel more comfortable with “act it until you fact it”.

Semantics perhaps, but it feels more intentional.

This post can provide the grain of sand in the minds of many of your followers, and could produce some many manly pearls.

Thank you for going there.

26 Matt May 14, 2012 at 7:11 am

Reminds me of two AA slogans –

“You can’t think your way into right living. You have to live your way into right thinking”

and

“Sometimes you have to do what you don’t want to do when you don’t want to do it.”

27 Jjshutty May 14, 2012 at 7:52 am

Great post. This will definently set the pace for the week.

28 Rick Shelton May 14, 2012 at 8:00 am

Wow.

29 JimCooke May 14, 2012 at 8:20 am

This post has clarified something Calvin Coolidge wrote that has long puzzled me. “Real reform does not begin with a law, it ends with a law.”
Thank you!

30 Dave May 14, 2012 at 8:26 am

I’m 43, but deep inside I’ve never really felt much more than 14. Yet on the other hand I’ve always trodden a path towards practical maturity – I’ve been with my wife for over 20 years, we have 2 kids, I have a solid career… I suspect I’ll always be ‘faking it’, if that’s how you want to put it, even when I’m dispensing grizzled wisdom to grandchildren. Maybe that’s just how it is… Doing IS being.

31 Conner May 14, 2012 at 8:40 am

Excellent stuff. C. S. Lewis comments on how this applies to “loving your neighbors” even when you don’t like them:
“Do not waste time bothering whether you ‘love’ your neighbor; act as if you did. As soon as we do this we find one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him.”

32 Patrick May 14, 2012 at 9:17 am

As a twenty-seven year old male who has spent the better part of the last years trying to find himself, this was an excellent way to start my morning. I truly appreciate everything this article included.

33 Sam May 14, 2012 at 9:27 am

There’s a series of DVDs out there called Men’s Fraternity, by Dr. Robert Lewis, that I highly recommend to men. Several churches have local mens’ groups that do this study on a regular basis, and it works best in a group setting, but the lessons are available for $3 each online as another option. All of these questions and issues are discussed. The series changed my life, opened my eyes, and I’m a better husband and father for taking part.

34 Nate May 14, 2012 at 9:39 am

I like Conners C.S Lewis Comment. I love his books, and they inspired me a great deal. Even though I’m still living at home I dont’ think I feel inferior as a Man because of it. I’m not here because I don’t have a choice. I’m still at the house I grew up in is because of financial times, and I’m still in school at the age of 23. I don’t regret the decision I have made. Italians sacrifice for the family, it’s always been that way in the old country. I’ve done so much since I have returned home from Florida I restored my Faith, joined a Mens Fraternal organization, I’m courting a lady, my grades are still really good. All thanks to God. I work towards something and I keep to the way keeping mallo vecchia in my veins. I also like to thank AoM, what a great place for working on being REAL Men, what a great community.

35 Tom May 14, 2012 at 9:47 am

Well, it is a known fact that most men mature very slowly and it’s not unusual for a man of 30, even when a professional, to be quite immature and childish. You can’t force a young man to grow up over night. Having the ability to accept where we are, in itself, is an act of manliness.

36 robster May 14, 2012 at 9:59 am

Agreed, Tom. Stated another way, manhood isn’t something that you can just download an app for and be done with it. It’s something you become.

The fruit of manhood arrives over time.
The attitude of manliness can start today!

37 Peter May 14, 2012 at 10:00 am

I think one of the reason why grown men still act (and look) like boys is that they refuse to dress like adults. Seriously, I know and see many men well into their 30s+ that still find it acceptable to wear clothes that you see teenagers wearing.

Once you reach your mid twenties, it’s time to put away the ball caps, sloppy ill fitting jeans, graphic tee shirts, sneakers for every occasion except for what they are intended for and the rest of the crap that 80% of the population wears.

I guarantee that if get yourself a couple of pairs of decent fitting pants, a couple of button down shirts, a nice pair of casual, but proper shoes, you will start feeling more like a man and less like a child. You will also find that people treat you differently, and with more respect.

I don’t see how anyone could feel like a man, if they still dress as though they are a child.

38 Jim May 14, 2012 at 10:19 am

This is an article that ought to be printed in booklet or tract form. It would benefit many to read this short, albeit, well put together essay.

39 bonojerry May 14, 2012 at 10:34 am

My favorite lesson in becoming a man is the black humor short story of Hemingway, “the short, happy life of francis malcolmer”, offered here from Tarlton University: http://www.tarleton.edu/Faculty/sword/Short%20Story/The%20Short%20Happy%20Life%20of%20Francis%20Macomber.pdf

40 Fearless May 14, 2012 at 11:00 am

Great post, it reminds me to be mindful of my actions on a daily basis. The concept of the self-fulfilling prophecy in the case of Sam is very important. Also reminds me of a quote from the book Psychocybernetics by Dr. Maxwell Maltz. “Self-image sets the limits for what what you can and cannot do.”

41 Rick Stiles May 14, 2012 at 11:04 am

“Sam” above mentioned a series of DVDs called Men’s Fraternity, by Dr. Robert Lewis. I have often thought that there would be an appropriate time to mention it on AoM. This is that day!

Sam mentions that several churches have local mens’ groups that do this study on a regular basis [typically the first session begins in September] and it does work best in a group setting. If visiting a church is an uncomfortable situation for you, you should know that Men’s Fraternity sessions usually occur at a church, but are attended by many more than the members of that church. I thought I would be uncomfortable with the format, but I was not.

I strongly recommend this series.

42 Jonesy May 14, 2012 at 11:13 am

THIS manly thing is being done from now on.

Thank you for helping me find it.

43 Sam May 14, 2012 at 11:15 am

I had a whole long life story that I wanted to type out, but I remembered that brevity is the soul of wit, so I just wanted to say: this article articulates everything I’ve learned over the past 5 years of (my brief) life.

I have a little suggestion to go along with this article if you’re trying to be a man: every day, you should do something that scares the hell out of you.

When I saw that I needed to change my life, I started doing this, and holy crap has it worked to get me closer to the man I want to be.

44 Damian May 14, 2012 at 11:53 am

As seems to regularly be the case with AOM this post is uncannily prescient in its timing. Truly what I needed at this time, as there is an awful imbalance between thinking and doing in my life. One of the best posts I have read and as always the comments by other contributors have been extremely enriching too

45 Keri Peardon May 14, 2012 at 11:54 am

I heard a rabbi say that people think that we’re born with ethics and we either choose to be moral or not. His opinion was that ethics and morality were a learned skill, just like playing basketball or a violin. He said that the practice of seemingly asinine Jewish law (like putting your right shoe on first, but tying the left shoe first) is about toning that ethical muscle so that it becomes easier–even reflexive–to make the right choice when it matters.

I think being a man is the same thing. We assume that men (and women) know how to be good men and women, yet there’s nothing in our society that teaches them. There are no longer finishing schools that teach manners and the art of conversation. Boys are no longer taken to Dad’s lodge meeting or businessman’s society to learn how to be men by being around other men.

Men and women must teach themselves how to be ladies and gents, and you’re absolutely right that it starts with action. The more you practice being a gentleman or lady, the more the right action will become reflexive.

46 Dwight May 14, 2012 at 12:07 pm

This is a great post, Thanks.

47 Filidexter May 14, 2012 at 12:29 pm

Beautiful.

Grayson, na’aseh v’nishma is pronounced with the final syllable of each word stressed. The vowels are close to their ‘pure’ realizations, like in Spanish or Italian. The apostrophe in na’aseh stands for a glottal stop and the one in v’nishma for a shwa, the indistinct vowel in the second syllable of words like butter, fallen, etc. Don’t pronounce the ‘h’ at the end of na’aseh. Hope that helps!

I was really pleasantly surprised to run into Hebrew in an AoM article. Kol hakavod :)

48 Alec Moore May 14, 2012 at 12:49 pm

I have to say that I completely agree. I am only 20 and can honestly say i feel like a man because I act like one. There is no reason or excuse not to. Just TCB baby.

49 William May 14, 2012 at 1:00 pm

Reverence is always warranted, but it is unique and wonderful to be on a first-name basis with the Almighty.

50 Ryan May 14, 2012 at 1:32 pm

Stop playing video games. Seriously, stop. I’m an attorney and have seen many new marriages/relationships destroyed because the guy won’t step up and be a man for his wife and/or small children because he spends his days and nights playing xbox and playstation.

51 wesley tien May 14, 2012 at 1:43 pm

This article is why AOM exists. I’m sure alot of us could benefit from reading it every week.

52 William May 14, 2012 at 2:05 pm

That is a great poster. I pass the Arsenal everyday to and from work.

53 Adrian May 14, 2012 at 2:25 pm

Sometimes you run across something at the very right moment of your life. The entire site has made me think of my life differently and has given me ideas I’ve never had. This article, though, has really inspired me. I’m not necessarily in a slump and am pretty successful, however, why should I settle? I want to be more and this article totally gives me that extra boost I needed!

54 Shawn B May 14, 2012 at 2:27 pm

I am a 46 year old man. Last night while driving down the highway I saw a dead porcupine in my lane and I had to swerve to go around it. It was getting dark and I barely missed it. I knew there were other drivers and motorcyclists who would be using the highway after dark. As I was driving I thought about this, and I became concerned that someone was going to hit it and damage their vehicle, or worse lose control. I decided to turn around, put on my gloves and remove the dead porcupine off the highway. Who knows, but maybe I prevented an accident or worse. The fact is just that I acted to prevent another person from being harmed. This is the kind of thing that real men do. Follow your intuition. Like it says in the article. Change comes through action. Act first, then become.

55 BW May 14, 2012 at 2:47 pm

Cognitive Disonance works both ways:

You said,m “When there’s a conflict between your self-perception and how you’re actually behaving, you experience dissonance or tension, and your brain moves to close the gap by shifting how you feel about yourself to match how you’re acting.”

OR, the reverse happens to resolved the dissonance…. changes how you’re acting to how you feel about yourself.

So, how do we make the actions stick, which pulls up our thinking about ourselves VS our thoughts winning the tug-o’-war and yanking us back into our old habits????

56 Pierre May 14, 2012 at 3:15 pm

Thanks Brett. This is perfect timing. Man up.

57 Jake May 14, 2012 at 3:48 pm

Great article. And that quote from Teddy Roosevelt is one of my favorites.

58 Chris May 14, 2012 at 4:21 pm

I really need to implement these ideas.

59 Jason May 14, 2012 at 4:47 pm

This is strong stuff, Brett! All men would greatly benefit from reading it.

Thanks!

60 omar May 14, 2012 at 5:14 pm

in a queer society, how to be respectful of other cultural backgrounds, how to better one self in order to better relate to others of other backgrounds (i.e. learn more languages), how to not make assumptions (i.e. women does not always = house wife, Latino does not always = working class).

Don’t get me wrong, I do like this trend on improving oneself as a man. But let’s include how to do that while being conscious of strides weve made forward in getting past the ignorance of the past.

61 omar May 14, 2012 at 5:18 pm

by the way, i don’t see anything wrong with the poem.

A gentleman does not just take things at face value. Use the context of when it was written, and how it’s presented now in our society today, to fully understand it’s meaning.

Take away the good message (it’s worth helping others)

But don’t just ignore the fact that it is making assumptions of women and boys. Doing so would be foolish. Read up, don’t just spout off on-line.

62 Dave May 14, 2012 at 5:37 pm

What a great article. Something I’ve observed and believed for years. Well put. Men need an initiation!

63 Sugapablo May 14, 2012 at 7:18 pm

Charles Schultz has already discussed this in his Peanuts cartoon. :) http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_8hbxsIlsq9Q/THz_lq6X_wI/AAAAAAAAAKs/O3a8y54zlGY/s400/cb_DepressedStance.JPG

64 Pat S. May 14, 2012 at 8:51 pm

“Jew in the same sense that the Olive Garden is Italian food,”

This quote is one reason some don’t “feel” like men these days. If you are something: a belief, a career, a husband; then be that or don’t call yourself that because men do not misrepresent themselves and men stand for something.

65 Randy May 14, 2012 at 10:03 pm

1 Corinthians 13:11 When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things.

66 JeffC May 14, 2012 at 11:13 pm

It is often more effective to act oneself into a new way of thinking, rather than to think oneself into a new way of acting.
— Source unknown

67 Ernie May 14, 2012 at 11:48 pm

This is a timely post. I am a 23-year-old man in a transitional phase. I felt quite lost without direction the past year, because I did not plan well enough for the end of college. However, this year I moved out permanently, got my own place, launched my career and am a 7-5 working stiff now. It wasn’t the career I thought I’d choose, and yes, it is a traditional office job that does not allow me to sit around and play video games like some of my friends still do, but opportunity came knocking and I took it. I have found my sense of manhood growing this year as I take on adult responsibilities. Paying your own bills, cooking your own food, and waking up and working all day without excuses has given me direction. My friends call me “old fashioned” or give me slack for working for “the Man.” But I couldn’t feel happier for being independent and responsible while they still act like they did in high school. But I’m not done yet…I’m still striving to be a better man!

68 Mike R May 15, 2012 at 12:53 am

The structure of American society during the past century has been to subdue the male and uplift the female. I am a man and I need not apologize for it. Indeed, I was created by God as a male and will never be fulfilled until I fulfill the role that I have been given.

69 Samuel O'Neil May 15, 2012 at 7:35 am

Like many here the doctrine of ” Do the act and become the person you want to be” is some thing that I have lived and through living come to believe.
After graduating high school I knew that with out some kind of drastic change in my living situation I would still probably be the same person that graduated high school 5 years down the road and who’s knows when I would “become” a man and be worthy of the respect that comes with that.

I left the States and went to the army. By the time I finished my service I had grown up a lot in the few years that had passed and learned a new language to boot. Now after having my first child, I have realized that unless you set the bar high and make it an issue of sink or swim, it can be very hard to make yourself become something new.

In addition, to add to what was writing above, an easy way to pronounce the above quote in Hebrew is:

Naah-Say veh Nish-mah

70 Twiffer May 15, 2012 at 8:02 am

A major problem in my view, for both men and women, is they are a coddled generation that- due to economic and emotional dependencies on their families- never ‘act to become’ because they never leave the nest and can therefore never ‘act to become’ – and claim their own power and franchise through their own dependency and experiences.

71 George May 15, 2012 at 8:56 am

“Being a man means doing a bunch of crap you don’t want to do.” –Red Foreman

72 Eddie May 15, 2012 at 10:51 am

This article reminds me of the main character in the children’s book, “Call It Courage” by Armstrong Sperry. I recently read this with my son and the boy who was known as a coward for being afraid of the sea, goes out to sea and consequently conquers his fears. He returns to become a legend in his tribe.

73 Chris Deering May 15, 2012 at 12:44 pm

Brett,
It’s funny you post this as I’m feel like I’m facing this aversion myself. Doing certain thing I see as what a “Man” would do, I feel like I’m playing a part or dressing up for Halloween. For instance I’m working on revamping my wardrobe, going from jeans and tee shirts to slacks and dress shirts. I also want to start wearing fedoras out in public as I see them as what “my” kind of man would do. I stand in my mirror, wearing my new digs and my swanky cover and I think I look swell. Then I step outside and I feel very conspicuous. I’m afraid that as a 20-something guy I’m going to be looked at like trying to be a hipster, the kind that wear my style of hat pushed all the way back on their black dyed hair. That’s not me. I’m working to push past that feeling and embrace the mantle of manliness, the way I see it, regardless of the way others see me.

74 Norm May 15, 2012 at 1:26 pm

Two things I’ve believed and acted on over the years (I”m 66 years old):
1. It is easier to act yourself into a better way of feeling, than to feel yourself into a better way of action. – O.H. Mowrer
2. To become anything, to master anything, having a successful model of it before you is essential. I learned to play tennis and golf (among many other tings) by watching the best on TV and playing with people better than I.

75 Joe May 15, 2012 at 2:00 pm

Not feeling like a man at 31 is how I have been feeling even with a wife and two kids. I think it is because I’m too busy to focus on myself every now and then, but for the last two weeks I have been reading this blog and putting more time into myself and now I can see my transformation. My wife has noticed a change and she doesn’t know about this blog. Thank you AOM, for being there for all of us who want to be better men.

76 Jay May 15, 2012 at 4:52 pm

RE: Norm’s comment “….having a successful model of it before you is essential.” I agree (mostly). I don’t think its IMPOSSIBLE to do something right without a proper model – but it sure is mighty difficult. Its easier to “fake it ’til you make it” when you can look at someone else who as “made it.” Having a model is INVALUABLE. Iron sharpens iron.

In growing into manhood, you might have numerous models who each exemplify a specific trait you’re striving for.

77 busagi May 15, 2012 at 5:47 pm

Recommendation: The Bhagavad Gita

78 James May 15, 2012 at 7:04 pm

I don’t know how it happens, but this site ALWAYS has a new article about exactly what I’ve been thinking about. I’m a married father of 3, and I don’t want my boys to flounder like I have/am. I’ve been through some pretty mental stuff the past couple of years and have felt very lost. I’ve been waiting for my brain to “snap out of it” but maybe i just need to force the change and, in time, it will become second nature.

Thanks, Brett.

79 Holrom May 16, 2012 at 12:55 am

In “Be a Man”, Fr. Larry Richards ends each chapter with a “thing you must do.” It very much reminds me of this. Reading and thinking won’t get you anywhere, you have to do.

I’m also heard that decision sometimes comes before emotion. For example, sometimes, we have to decide to love our family, our neighbors, God, etc before we actually feel that love.

80 John May 16, 2012 at 5:45 am

The best way to move your mind and heart is through your intellect and will. Your will has direct control of your actions and your body. Just act like a man, woman, Catholic, Jew, Muslim, atheist, etc, and you will soon become one mentally and habitually. It’s good advice for people in the RCIA. People give up prayer, the Rosary, Adoration, etc because their mind is distracted. But if we force ourselves to pray, eventually our mind will engage in it. It’s an old spiritual law: Discipline of the mind begins with discipline of the body. Or as Batman puts it: “It’s what I do that defines me.”
Unfortuantely, it’s not that simple. The existentialists also teach this law, but most of them do not believe in the intellect or truth or essences. For them, the law is: Define yourself by your actions, because you can be whatever the hell you want. If God is dead, there are no essences, etc. Without God, “Be a man” sounds like “Be what is expected of you, not what you want to be.” Unfortunately, to our young people “Be whatever the hell you want” sounds more attractive. It’s the perennial deception. The truth is that we are each called to be and to act in accord with the truth of our nature. The truth of our nature is known by our intellect. And the perfection of our nature is found in the grace of the Catholic Church.

81 Emil J Lesner May 16, 2012 at 5:48 am

Brett, Kate, & Gus,
I meet with a guy who at the age of 46 still deals with job losses, parental rejection, and down right lies about himself in a negative manner. I think I am going to put this to him and see how he responds.

82 Kaz May 16, 2012 at 7:45 am

And this is why this site is what it is. Superb article!

83 Jameson May 16, 2012 at 7:47 am

Only new to this site guys and that was a great article!
I mean, I knew I had to start, but I always put it off, waited for the right moment – contemplating and procrastinating my way through life.
But from now on, the manly thing will be done, it must be done.

84 TruckBuddy May 16, 2012 at 10:07 am

This is an awesome post (and not just because it agrees with ME almost perfectly. Hah!). ACTION is indeed the first step to manhood. I contemplated manhood for 30 years before I was even on the same continent of manhood, much less the same neighborhood. It wasn’t until I got married and we ran into some financial struggles and I had to DO SOMETHING that I started taking the first steps toward adulthood.

I would add one thing to it, though. Service is essential for a full, complete manhood. Service can take all kinds of forms, whether it’s charitable, service to your country, or even living to serve your own small “family unit.” If you’re not living for something or someone other than yourself, you will likely veer toward self-centeredness, which is immature, and therefore not manly.

My two cents. I’m so glad I found this website. I started a company a few years back that requires strength, honor, integrity and ingenuity. While our daily duties are pretty simple and straightforward, I’ve always thought of the company culture as a place where boys and young men can become Men in the best sense of the word. This website is a fantastic resource for reaching that goal.

–Chris

85 Joyanne May 16, 2012 at 7:00 pm

This is a fantastic article that makes me want to share it with all of my guy friends (and women too)! I really appreciated the references to Moses and Teddy Roosevelt. However, what most impresses me are the comments left by all you men. As a young woman living in contemporary society where a good, mature, moral man is hard to find, I’m glad to find that there are men who think about these kinds of issues. Also, in reading this article, I realize that a lot of these tips can be applied to women as well and help them become the women they want to be. So, thank you! I will most definitely be sharing this article (really, this website).

86 James May 16, 2012 at 8:36 pm

I needed this mental kick in the behind after the past few days.

Thanks, as usual Brett!

87 Adam May 16, 2012 at 9:15 pm

The part about feeling like a boy walking around in a man’s body really spoke to me.
My perceived self image doesn’t match my mirror image. Great read. Really inspired me.

88 Mike May 16, 2012 at 10:39 pm

“We are what we repeatedly do”

Saying that im going to leave my computer and get my work done before i become lazy.

89 Mr. X May 17, 2012 at 6:50 pm

Once again, AoM tackles aspects of manliness that have been neglected or subdued by our lack of necessity of having to do what being a man was like in the not too distant past. Our easy and safe existence doesn’t need for our manly virtues to be proven often like they had to in the past.

Well done. My favourite blog.

90 PhilosopherKing May 17, 2012 at 7:38 pm

The question is this:
Who has more FUN?
Is it adults with responsibilities or care free playboys?
Men will do whatever looks like will be the most fun; pleasure and happiness are two different things.

Would you rather have fun or meaning, you decide. You have never seen a married man smile like Hugh Hefner.

91 PhilosopherKing May 17, 2012 at 7:53 pm

Most Men Need Jobs for Happiness, because they do not know Leisure, they do not know the Art of Living. Leisure is not play, but it is also most likely not a wage slave, work as post-industrial man considers it.

In Praise of Idleness, Bertrand Russell
http://www.whywork.org/rethinking/leisure/russell.html

Aldous Huxley, Work and Leisure
http://www.goldenbough.org/course/workandleisure.pdf

Work is necessary to provide the freedom and means to enjoy leisure. Work itself is not the aim of life. Work provides sole meaning for those that lack any higher meaning. Life is too short to work too long at a job that is not pure leisure.

“We work in order to be at Leisure” – Aristotle

92 Jordan May 18, 2012 at 8:48 am

This article is really awesome! I made me think more about the way I act. I’m 24 years old and I really felt like a kid around my girlfriends and other acquaintances. It’s helped me focus on what I wanted and grow more over the passed few days.
I’ve read it three times already and it’s always refreshing!
Thank you so much for your website!

93 Matt May 18, 2012 at 4:40 pm

Very good article, thank you! Children let their emotions decide how they act. Men make take action based on doing the right thing for that moment, even if they are tired, scared, or don’t want to do it.

94 Gareth May 19, 2012 at 1:52 am

Thanks for the great article, Brett. Trying to ‘fake it until you make it’ may feel unnatural at first but it may be the only way to move forward.

95 Jeff May 20, 2012 at 11:31 am

GREAT article. I really enjoyed reading it. I have been working on being more of a man for a little over a year now. It was nice to confirm that I really am going about it the right way – changing how I act first. I really appreciated the juxtaposition of the ancient and modern man, and the “Cabinet of Invisible Counselors”. Thank you!

96 arch May 20, 2012 at 6:46 pm

[quote=Grayson] (comment #2)
does anyone know how to pronounce na’aseh v’nishma?[/quote]

breaking it down into syllables:
1. nawe (same way you’d pronounce “awe” but with an ‘n’ tacked on to the beginning)
2. awe
3. seh (same way you’d pronounce “set,” except dropping the ‘t’ sound)
4. vi (same way you pronounce the first two letters of “vintage”)
5. neesh (pronounce to rhyme with the expletive “sheesh”)
6. maw (pronounce to rhyme with “paw”)

97 Josh May 20, 2012 at 9:51 pm

We are who we pretend to be, so we must be careful who we pretend to be.
-Kurt Vonnegut

98 Ben G. May 21, 2012 at 1:13 am

@philosopherking
The real question, if you are past
age 16 or so, is not “who had more fun?” but rather, “who is more satisfied?”. You are wrong about men always choosing what looks like more fun; a lot of us choose what is more life giving and satisfying–see the manvotional on temperance. There is nothing more pleasurable than looking back on a life of integrity, virtue, and sacrificial love.

Oh, and the part about Hefner? You’re darn right you won’t see a married man smile like that, and guess what? You won’t ever see Hefner smile like a man who has loved one woman his whole life, and has had that whole life too perfect the art of it. I’ll give you and any man who is drawn to the pervasive cultural myth about sex a hint: A “playboy” will never know anything but the tip of the iceberg when it comes to sexual satisfaction, because the bulk of it is below the surface and the deeper you go, the better it gets!(IFF you are a man about it.)

99 Tim Joyce May 21, 2012 at 1:26 pm

excellent article Brett , even more inspiring thanks to the use of Gods personal name Jehovah. The Bible is full of examples of manliness that men today would do well to meditate on. Its a shame that some groups have over time attempted to remove the name of Jehovah from the scriptures and further edited them to fit their own preconceived doctrines or in the name of political correctness. I found this article to be very inspirational, keep up the good work.

100 Tim Joyce May 21, 2012 at 1:48 pm

This article was made even more inspiring by the use of Gods personal name Jehovah. The Bible holds many examples of manliness that men today would be well served to meditate on.

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