Last week I talked about the four pillars as a whole and how you can start using them. I wanted to dive a little deeper into each pillar and examine why these pillars are important and see if I can keep from doing another 4000-word essay. Spoilers it doesn’t, but this is important reading.
The Man’s mind has many different purposes. Now, this is the mind as a whole, not just the pillar, though the pillar itself has many different purposes too. Your mind houses you. The way you think, act, respond, are all a part of your mind. Your mind is where you have your experiences, hopes, dreams, while also is what allows you to change. Your ability to make choices. Your very agency is all encased in this squishy grey matter that is parked behind your eyes and between your ears.
Sadly we don’t think of our thoughts all that often. This is why we get ourselves trapped into thought loops that create anxiety and stress in our lives. We do the same thing over and over again. We watch the news and see all the other people saying and doing stuff that irritates us. The news and social media get us trapped into turning to them for some type of stimulation.
From the moment we leave high school many of us men never crack open another book except for, you read to our kids.
Why is the Man’s Mind Important?
As I stated at the opening it is you. Everything about you is found in that organ of bioelectricity. Without it you are useless. You can’t stand depending on how much of your brain you have in your head you might be able to live and feel nothing but emotions. Yet us men are more than emotions, we are more than animals because we can rise above our emotions.
The ability to set your emotions aside and run across a busy highway to rescue a cat is the very essence of proof that man is more than emotions. Now our emotions play a lot into our decisions, true, but they are also able to be sidelined and have clear thoughts conveyed.
The man’s mind is capable of so many tremendous feats. Able to separate fact from fiction, determine what is fact and what is fiction. The mind can determine what is a thought and what is the facts of a circumstance. That beautiful brain of yours is able to feel any emotion you choose, or to be emotionless.
Now that’s all good but why is Man’s Mind important? It is important because without your mind you are dead. You can have your full brain intact, but if you do not use your mind, you will die at an early age. If you are not willing to stretch your mind and use it. It will wither and become just a shadow of what it is capable of.
From Thomas Jefferson to Alexander Gram Bell to Thomas Edison and Andrew Carnegie These men are not superheroes. They didn’t have an extra brain in their pocket. They didn’t even have the internet, Yet they did amazing things. They were often a part of something larger than themselves, all because they did let their mind wither. They used it and pondered and didn’t run from failure. Their brains were just the same size and shape as yours. They have all the same elements of the prefrontal Cortex to their Limbic system. The only difference was that they didn’t stop learning.
The reason for the Man’s Mind Pillar is that our minds need to be stimulated. Now I can see some of you partygoers saying, “Yeah I’m stimulating my mind alright” That type of stimulation isn’t quite what I am getting at. I am talking about stimulating your mind with new and interesting ideas. Different ways to de-fur a feline.
As I said, many men don’t encourage this type of mental activity. They may learn some extra information while at a brown bag lunch and learn, but that is often because they are told to attend. I am talking about you learning voluntarily. You wanting to learn more.
Now sadly many men don’t realize, they don’t know as much as they thought, till they are around 40 years old. That is when many men get into self-help. Now, this could be out of fear and they see that they are nowhere near where they imagined they would be by that age. This is what got me into more intentional learning. So maybe you are just starting on your path. That is the case, welcome to a wonderful and bigger world than you can imagine.
What happens when a mind isn’t stimulated?
Not to drive things home I want to go to a bit of an extreme. To do this I want to use the closest thing we have in society that keeps people’s minds from being stimulated. This example is solitary confinement, The Hole, the box, Tons of other names but what is set to do is to isolate people from any type of mental stimulation. All they have is themselves and a metal door that may open once a day.
Now I am not here to discuss the moral implications of being in Solitary but what the effect on the human mind shows. The effects range from physical to mental problems. The prisoners who are put in to suffer from increased anxiety to reported hallucinations. Then there are the physical effects. While in their cell there is no human interaction, this includes no seeing of other people, No talking to others, No human to human touching. There is nothing but the 4 walls, no natural light. You are just left with yourself and that is all.
When you are in solitary confinement for extended amounts of time. There are reports of people experiencing the loss of appetite and more according to Medical News today.
- chronic headaches
- digestive problems
- excessive sweating
- hypersensitivity to light and noise
- loss of appetite
- sleep problems
- trembling hands
- A shrinking of the brain
The mental problems that crop up when you are in solitary are also present. These range from anxiety to suicidal tendencies. I do find it interesting that many of the social ailments are present in this list. That is what I want to point at.
- anxiety and stress
- depression and hopelessness
- anger, irritability, and hostility
- panic attacks
- problems with attention, concentration, and memory
- hallucinations that affect all of the senses
- poor impulse control
- social withdrawal
- outbursts of violence
- self-harm or suicide
You see Anxiety, depression, anger and irritability, panic attacks, kids and adults alike not being able to concentrate, then the increase of Self-harm. A person who is not mentally stimulated by outside events has these problems. Yet because most people aren’t in solitary this list is overlooked. I would pose the idea that some of our societal problems are that we don’t exercise our minds. We are not getting that mental workout that we need. Our minds as a whole aren’t being stimulated.
The Man’s Mind is a solution
Working on The Man’s Mind is possibly a fix to many of these different maladies. It’s not the end all be all of the problems, yet it is a step in the right direction. This is because you are stimulating your mind in many different facets. You are learning from others who came before you. You find new ideas that you can incorporate into your quest for your life.
The fact that you are trying different things and expanding your horizons is the point. If you settle you will sink. Much like Atreyu horse Artax in the Neverending Story. If you have purpose and a goal in mind you won’t sink in your Swamp of Sadness. Yet if you stop and just become idle, the swamp will slowly start to consume you.
This consumption will look like your wife, whom you love dearly, suddenly deciding that she doesn’t love you anymore. The possible promotions you thought you had in the bag dry up. Your son turns to some other people with questionable morals. Alcohol or other substances start occupying your mind.
Then again, nothing may happen. Your dreams are never realized. You don’t get to see the places you always talked about. Things simply don’t happen, and I think that’s the saddest of all. The unrealized potential is lost.
There are several reasons as to why reading, in particular, is important. First of all, is the fact that it allows you to reread parts that you are having a hard time understanding. You can consume books in so many different ways by simply reading or you can take notes in the margins. You can highlight passages that are inspiring. You can share quotes and then if you have the physical copy you can give it to a friend who is in the same place you were.
The benefits of actually reading
One benefit is one that many men claim they don’t have and can increase this deficit simply by doing. That benefit is your ability to focus. Now we all have that one thing that we are able to zone into. It could be the therapeutic actions of sanding a tabletop or working through a video game level. No matter what it is there is something out there that you can apply an almost limitless amount of focus to. You can also develop that level of focus in reading and in turn redirect it to other things in your life.
When you go to start reading many of us guys will get a page in and start getting drowsy. This is our mind not seeing a reason to focus and so why not shut down. With that being the case, you may have to make it a goal to read 2 pages a night. When you can clear 2 pages with no problem, keep reading until you hit 5 or 10 pages. The more you read the better your focus and the faster you can read. I am of average speed but I don’t read as much as my wife who will devour books.
The fact that your brain is working on something that it isn’t used to, has much of the same effect as a bicep when you start doing curls. It is hard to manage 5 pounds for a while but with dedication, you are suddenly slinging around 50-pound dumbbells like they are made of paper.
Reading Provides Stress reduction
The fact that you do fall asleep proved this very next point. Our minds aren’t able to focus on more than one thing at a time. So to read is such a shift that you aren’t going to be thinking of the Osborne presentation. Your mind is going to be thinking of the words that are in front of your face. So your mind has a chance to rest and be stimulated by something that isn’t threatening. Much like the pages in the shining, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”
Your mind needs a change-up from time to time and reading can provide that changeup, much like how a hobby will also cause your mind to have to shift gears and concentrate on a completely different task.
Reading Improves Memory
When reading there are several different characters in place. Then if you are reading epic books like The Song of Fire and Ice in that case there can be a huge number of characters. To keep these characters lined out you have to work on your memory. That one thing that reading is great for, is memory exercises. Reading improves reading comprehension and memory.
When reading and exercising your mind and as your memory improves you start to pick up new words for your vocabulary. These words start to get incorporated into your everyday language. This not only helps you sound smarter it shows that your mind is getting stronger. This can also shine through in your writing and other forms of communication. So reading branches out and impacts multiple facets of your life.
Clearer Thoughts From Reading
How many times have you struggled with thinking? I know I have many times, but reading helps you to do this better. From having to keep track of the different events that are happening to the characters and what they are doing. Your mind is having to work to keep track of the who, what, when, and where’s.
With this activity, you are also improving your imagination. This is important not only for abstract thought but if you are running into a problem with your business or kids, you want to be able to have your imagination come up with a solution that will benefit all.
As you work on your memory and the more you read the better at concentrating you get. You can focus for longer times and the evidence in that is your increase in reading duration. You may have only been able to read 2 pages before your mind started drifting off but as you keep reading you are able to read 10, 25, 50, 100 pages in a sitting.
That skill then translates over to other tasks that require extended concentration skills, like writing. When you improve your mind that strength radiates to all parts of your life.
Reading Exposes You to Other Views
Now, this is important to several levels many of us aren’t used to in normal day-to-day internet use. Today’s social media sites have algorithms that squirrel us into different silos of others who think like us. So though we may have a friend who is of a different political persuasion than what we may have. Yeah, we may have a heated discussion from time to time. But that person may be limited in their ability to voice their reasons as to why.
So with the lack of explanation, we don’t understand why our friend can’t just see what we believe to be common sense. Reading can help us come to understand other people’s views. Being able to understand their views helps us in a few different areas of our life.
To be able to understand another person and to have a good idea as to what they are feeling helps us to be able to connect with another person better. If you are running around being callous and not caring what anybody feels, are not going to award you any friends. Even if they agree with you or not. This is one reason some people with Aspergers are often seen as socially awkward. They often struggle with understanding other people’s emotions and their thought processes.
That ability to understand others requires a bit of empathy. You don’t have to be an empath to be able to grasp what someone is feeling.
Reading books helps with this skill of understanding others’ emotions. That is because if you read fiction or even biographies you start to understand the pressure a person is facing. In stories, the hero may be facing insurmountable odds and you come to care for Luke and his quest to be a Jedi. You see the pain when he hears that the big bad guy is his father. The books often emote these feelings just as much if not more.
Reading Gives You Better Understanding
You are also able to understand the reasons why people take a certain path. You can see why they may have chosen that perspective to take as they are struggling with the problem they are facing. When you incorporate empathy with the other details you understand a person you often misunderstood for a while.
This doesn’t mean that you have to agree with them. It just means that you understand where they are coming from. You can start to grasp what they are going after on a deeper level. When you start understanding.
Reading gives you a new perspective. That perspective helps you grow as a human and as a man. Your skills to ask questions that you may have picked up from reading about a certain president or other important people in society can help you in the other parts of your life.
Testing of Our Own Beliefs
When you come to see a person after walking a mile in their shoes, and you come to understand them better. As you read more and more you will start to see new patterns in how life works. These new patterns open your world to other possibilities. These possibilities may cause you to change some of your beliefs.
Now that can be scary. Many of us men build our whole worlds around a certain belief. We are Liberal or Conservative, then to be handed information that may cause us to question our beliefs can shake us. We want to hold on to our beliefs. Those beliefs are critical to us for whatever reason we give. There is something about a belief you may not know.
A belief is nothing more than a thought you perceive to be true. That doesn’t mean that you are wrong, it just means your perception is set to this one angle. So you can change your belief in something and still keep your integrity. It’s wild to think of that.
This is why many Muslims become Christians and Christians become Jewish. Faiths can and often shift when we gain new insight.
Yet this can also mean that being exposed to new ideas and thoughts can help you concrete your beliefs, even more, you may come across opposing information and you can sift through it and see that your thoughts and theories in life are still holding true. Is it a bit of a gamble? You can look at it like that, or you can see that you are becoming a better person in either direction you take.
Longer Life Through Reading
There is a study that has found those who read books have a longer life span. This is shown to be an increase of cognitive engagement from reading books as opposed to reading just magazines and newspapers. They believe that this is from the slow immersion process, and the mental engagement as you piece parts of the story together. Because of these, you develop a survival advantage in your life.
The study also found that it doesn’t matter if you are reading fiction or nonfiction books. The act of reading books is what helped.
Better problem solving
This skill is also developed because of your newfound love of reading. You start to see other possibilities as you consume more and more books. You see how other people can solve problems and you will start to find ways you can apply their solutions to your problems. All thanks to books and their authors for showing you’re a different way to look at something
Other ways you can work on Your Mind
Now I know I have pushed reading a lot but that is because of all those reasons I just gave. Reading is important to any man who is wanting to excel in his life. If you are desiring to get from place A to place B then reading is going to be involved. No matter the struggle you face. You can ask people but many times reading is where you are going to find the solution. Any time you use the excuse I am not a reader you are lying to yourself, so please honor yourself and start changing that narrative.
Now sometimes reading a physical book isn’t the best thing to do, i.e. driving a car. Therefore there are other ways to build the man’s Mind and not worry about getting yourself maimed in the process.
This is one of the best things to do so you can learn more about whatever you are wanting to know. There are podcasts that cover every possible genre and every possible view of that topic. You can learn a lot and even find a community of people who are just jazzed about that topic that you are.
Now one of the biggest advantages of podcasts is that you can listen anywhere. Your attention isn’t focused on a video. You can mow the lawn and listen to podcasts. You can drive a car and listen to podcasts. Training for a big hike, or marathon? Podcasts! Washing the dishes? Again podcasts can be listened to.
There are more apps out there that allow you to consume podcasts for both mobile platforms. iOS has the Apple podcasts and others like Castro and Overcast, which is my favorite podcast player. There is also Pocket Cast which is made for both platforms Android and iOS.
There are also apps for android phones. These are Google Podcast Player, I mentioned them before but Pocket Casts, Podcast Guru, and MoonFM. Don’t like any of those? Well, there are over 240 different podcast players available on the Google Play store. So get to looking.
If you don’t like those you can also listen to podcasts on Spotify, Pandora, iHeartRadio, and many other general media apps.
If you don’t know what podcasts to listen to you can start with the podcast I release each Thursday called the Relaxed Male Podcast.
Now, these are a pain I know I am not a puzzle person. Yet these are great for exercising your mind too. Whether they are 1000 puzzle pieces or the HorseShoe puzzle where you have to get the ring off of the horseshoes These make your brain have to change course and focus on something completely different. As mentioned before this is one of the best ways for your brain to rewire synapsis so your mind gets stronger.
There are many different problem-solving cases when you are building something. Whether it is a hope chest made of cedar or an R/C plane. The building is great for your mind. You are working on hand-eye coordination and you are problem-solving. Much like puzzles it allows you to learn a new skill and new ways to look at a particular problem.
Just let your mind wander
This is something we don’t do as much as we need to. Nowadays when our mind starts to wander our brain freaks out and screams about how we need to look at our phones or television. We feel that we have to get the dopamine hit for liking a person’s post. When in reality our mind needs to be able to just wander on its own. This is how many geniuses found solutions to their problems.
So if you can stand your monkey brain screaming that you’re going to die because you are being accepted in the world for 10 minutes I recommend you let your mind just run with itself for a bit and see what you come up with.
Try something new
Doing something out of the ordinary is always a good way to ensure your mind is staying active. Be it driving a different path that you have never gone before. Go exploring, or decide you are going to eat your meal with your non-dominant hand. Learn to write your name with that hand. These are all amazing little things you can do that make your brain work.
Using the Other Pillars of a Relaxed Male
Now one of the amazing things about these 4 pillars is that they support each other too. Say you are working on your Body. You are getting into shape. That increased flow of highly oxygenated blood is going to your brain too. So you are able to think clearer when you are working out.
When you are Working on your soul pillar you are problem-solving so again you are exercising your brain so that you can solve those problems better.
When you are with your band of brothers, talking about different problems you are having you are helping your fellow men to see the world from a different angle. You are having to look at the world through your friends’ eyes. This change is incredible for your mind to stay sharp.
Your mind is the key to all of the other possibilities of your world. When going through any other type of crisis your mind is what will help you make it through the other side. How sharp and resilient your mind depends on how well you will weather this storm of divorce for financial ruin. If you can keep your wits about you you will see that once it is over you can start to build and you see that building again is a bit easier. Your mental health is a bit stronger. You are becoming a better man. If you want help in working on your 4 pillars or you are going through a divorce and you need help please don’t hesitate to reach out for help.