A First-Timer’s Guide to Surviving a Comic Con

YAY ME! I’m no longer a comic con newbie!

I attended my first comic con a few weeks ago, when my niece invited me to go to Salt Lake Comic Con with her. I was thrilled to accept the invitation because I come from a pretty nerdy family and it didn’t seem right that I hadn’t been to at least one comic con; especially living as close as I do to one of North America’s larger events.

Even though I had never been to a con, I had a fair idea of what to expect: Large crowds, expensive food, celebrities ranging from major Hollywood types to C-listers, and more cosplayers than the populations of many small towns in middle America.

Salt Lake Comic Con didn’t disappoint.

I lost count of how many people were dressed up as Spiderman. Same with Deadpool. And Jedi’s. And storm troopers. I even ran into Darth Vader getting dressed in the men’s restroom. Surprisingly, I only counted 12 Starfleet officers.

Even my niece dressed up. She is hands-down the nerdiest of my family—which is why I love her so much—and she was in her element. She cosplayed a character from one of her favorite anime series and I was surprised at how many times people stopped her to take pictures. She even ran into another young girl dressed as the same character, so they of course took their picture together.

Oh yeah… note to self: At my next comic con, remember to text myself any pictures I take from a friend’s or relative’s phone. I was so busy taking pictures with my niece’s phone I forgot to take pictures with my own.

Since I was being guided by a veteran of previous cons, I was happy to go along with whatever my niece wanted to do. I’m glad I did, because I had a blast. As I said, my niece was in her element. She patiently explained all of her fandoms as we walked around and she excitedly pointed out unique characters I had no idea existed.

By the end of the day I was exhausted but happy. I came away from the con feeling even more nerdy than I did before, but there are some practical things I learned as well:

Be prepared to spend lots of money. I didn’t care about getting celebrity autographs, buying fan art, or filling up my home office with more stuff that will just gather dust. But if that’s your thing, then take lots of cash or leave plenty of room on your credit card… and be disciplined enough to stick to a budget. You’ll thank yourself later.

Plan on leaving the convention center during the event. Why? You have to eat at some point. Convention food is already expensive, but at a comic con? Prices are as astronomical as the budgets of Hollywood blockbusters. $8 dollars for a churro that I can get for $.75 cents from a street vendor? Ummmm… no.

Just keep in mind that you’ll have to battle crowds no matter where you go during a con, so plan for at least a 90 minute lunch. This is especially true in a city like Salt Lake where the city blocks are HUGE and most “quick” food options are a few blocks away.

Speaking of crowds, don’t go if you’re claustrophobic. Crowds don’t bother me, but even then I had a hard time navigating the vendor floor. There were hordes of people there. Think Times Square on New Year’s Eve. That’s what it felt like. I learned that if there’s an invitation to geek out, those of us tuned into that siren song will answer the call. And since I live in the nerdiest state in the U.S.… well… need I say more?

“Business Of…” panels are more interesting than pop-culture panels. This is strictly my own opinion. I attended several artist panels with my niece and I was fascinated to hear insider perspectives on what it’s like to work as an artist in the entertainment industry. I got a real education in a very short time.

At one point, I got curious enough about a Marvel panel I slipped away to attend it. I thought the panel would involve one or two Marvel studio execs sharing what they could about their plans for the Infinity War movies. What I got instead was a panel of local celebrities speculating about what they think might happen and what they would like to see happen. The discussion was interesting, but after 15 minutes, I quietly rejoined my niece.

I admit I was disappointed, but that’s okay. My point is that if you’re going to a comic con, attend as many panels as you can. You may be pleasantly surprised, or you may be disappointed. At the very least, you’ll get an education and you’ll better define what you like and what you don’t.

You’re going to have fun no matter what. I know that comic cons aren’t everyone’s thing; but if you’re even remotely curious, go. In spite of the crowds, the overpriced food, and a pair of extremely sore feet at the end of the day, you’ll have more fun than you’ll expect.

One last thing: Watching my niece light up so frequently, and having her explain so many unknown elements of geek culture to me, was by far the highlight of my day. Go with someone you know appreciates all things geek, and your experience will be that much better.

And if you’re wondering if I plan to attend next year’s con, the answer is yes. I’m all about living joyously, after all, so why not?


About Appio Hunter
Appio is an author, speaker, spiritual guide, and self-described champion for living joyously. He facilitates conversations with groups and individuals about how they can be authentic and experience community, connection, and alignment every day. Appio is also co-host of the Real Men Feel Show along with his good friend Andy Grant. You can learn more about his work at AppioHunter.com.

 

Uncommon Sense

the-road-less-traveledWhen I was a boy, my father didn’t take much time to talk to me about life. But on those rare occasions when he did decide to impart some “wisdom” on me, he would summon me to his presence, and give another lecture on “common sense.”

Dad’s brand of common sense wasn’t your average crop of life lessons, such as “don’t touch a hot stove” or “look both ways before you cross the street.” No, his special brand of worldly knowledge began with a reminder that I was “book smart,” not street smart. This was not a good thing, in his estimation.

Then came the pearls of wisdom, which mostly dealt with “truisms” such as “everyone is just out for themselves,” or “it’s an unfair world that makes you struggle for everything you want.”

I don’t know about you, but I couldn’t live in a world that my father envisioned, a world where it was logical and practical to be suspicious of everyone. But alas, it seems that many of us have had similar lectures from our parents or others who we admired in our youth, regarding “how the world works.”

Do you really want to be restricted by how someone else thinks the world works?

If it’s common sense to see the world as a place to be regarded with doubt and fear, I don’t want any part of it. Do you?

Uncommon Sense and Occam’s Razor

Therefore, I propose we strive for what could be called “UNCOMMON sense.”

If traditional common sense dictates a world of negativity, uncommon sense seeks out optimism, trust, and hope. But make no mistake: this is not about some warm-and-fuzzy, kumbaya, “can’t we all just get along” fluff. No, this is a matter of true practicality.

Let’s use the concept of Occam’s Razor here. Occam was a Medieval monk who famously posited that the simplest answers in life are usually the correct answers.

So, I ask you: is it more likely that other people are self-serving and conniving, constantly thinking about how to get one over on their fellow human beings? Or is it more likely that most other people are just like you: other human beings, doing the best they can in the face of life’s challenges, seeking happiness?

Does it do you any good to think most people are expending the level of energy it takes to be sneaky and sly all the time? Deception takes a lot of effort, as it drains the human spirit. It’s not sustainable.

So how likely is it that most people are vain, selfish, and actively seeking the demise of others? Yes, those types of people do exist, but they are not as prevalent as we think.

True Pragmatism

I also want to take a moment to warn you that people often disguise negativity as “pragmatism,” “practicality,” or “being a realist.” Don’t fall for this bait-and-switch tactic!

Uncommon sense is the ultimate pragmatism, because it relates to the smooth flow of society. How? Think of it this way: when we alienate others with our judgments and unthinking “truisms,” labeling them with just one or two words, we make them little more than one-dimensional things to be ridiculed and ignored. And those we push away to the fringes of society often break from the alienation.

This breakage can manifest in numerous ways, from addictions to violent outbursts and all sorts of nastiness in between. Take one of the mass shootings from the last several years: the Elliot Rodger shooting at UC Santa Barbara. His version of “common sense” blamed women, and ultimately everyone but himself, for his problems.

I’m not trying to excuse the behavior of those who harm and kill others. I believe that when someone crosses the threshold into harming others, they must be held responsible for their actions, and face strong consequences. I’m also not laying all the blame for such violence at the feet of an “uncaring” society.

But could something have been done to reduce the chance of someone like Elliot Rodger resorting to violence? I believe something might have been done, in the time leading up to his actions, to potentially steer him away from that course.

What could have been done? I believe each of us can do our part to lower the risk of alienated people lashing out, just by giving others the benefit of the doubt. Each of us, every day, needs to do more than worry and live in fear of other people.

We need to take time to value and encourage happiness among other people, even if it’s just by not giving them grief for the small, mostly imagined “infractions” we encounter during the day: the driver that cuts us off, the person in line at Starbucks talking loudly on their phone.

Be The Change You Want To See

We need to maintain perspective when it comes to what truly matters in our daily lives. Is it really worth it to make yourself feel better by flipping the bird at another driver? What is the hidden cost of even such small actions?

Remember, valuing the lives and perspectives of others doesn’t just benefit them, it benefits all of us. The person you push away today may be the person who hurts you tomorrow.

Think about what you’re telling your loved ones every day. Are you doing your part to keep the weave of society from fraying? Is your so-called common sense holding you back?

Many of us talk of being different, standing out in the crowd. If you want to be truly unique in today’s society, then be tolerant, even though the talking heads, pundits, and so-called experts are telling you to be afraid of everything and everyone.

Lead by example, be the change you want to see, and maybe we can spread some uncommon sense.

***

anthony simeoneAbout the Author
Anthony Simeone is a writer, speaker, personal development activist, and social change warrior with over two decades of experience studying the practical application of literature, philosophy, psychology, and other disciplines. The culmination of his work is the Live the Hero concept, which he offers as a “life path” for use in overcoming daily obstacles. Live the Hero combines the wisdom found in the arts and humanities with the latest discoveries related to modern neuroscience. You can contact Anthony and learn more about his work at livethehero.com.

Scary Mail

I received a letter in the mail before Thanksgiving and I’ve been resisting opening it.
Who sent it? What am I afraid of?
Watch now to find out.

Love LetterExplore sending a love letter, a pick-me up, a pep-talk, note to yourself. Ideally, wait long enough to open it that you won’t recall what you wrote, then allow yourself to be surprised, touched, proud, grateful…

***

About The Author
Andy GrantAndy Grant is a best-selling author, award-winning speaker, Transformational Energy Coach, Akashic Records Reader and suicide prevention activist. He holds certificates in Positive Psychology, the Enwaken Coaching System, Akashic Records, Infinite Possibilities and Reiki, as well as other leadership programs and energy work modalities.

Andy teaches workshops ranging from energy tools to ebook publishing, and is the founder of Real Men Feel, a movement encouraging men to come out of the emotional closet. He also facilitates monthly men’s groups. As a survivor of multiple suicide attempts, Andy knows how low we as human beings can feel, and he is committed to helping people realize how magnificent life is meant to be. Learn more about Andy at NavitasCoach.com

Yes, There is Such a Thing as Practical Enlightenment

wise-man

Image courtesy Paul Dlugokencky

We all know the image: a wise man sitting on a mountaintop. A hermit who has left the world behind in order to contemplate life in isolation, and therefore reach “enlightenment.” It’s such a widespread notion in our collective consciousness that it’s become more than a cliche: it’s been used to sell soup.

Google the phrase “guru on mountaintop” and see how many comic strips you get as a result.

Sure, it’s possible to reach a state of inner peace and self-knowledge if you take yourself away from the world. With none of the distractions of our interconnected age, who couldn’t attain nirvana?

The problem is, chilling out alone on an actual mountain for years on end isn’t an option for many of us. And even if it was, would you really want to be up there forever? Even the wise man has to come down sometimes, whether it’s to get some food, some Starbucks, or upgrade his smartphone. Heck, what if you just get lonely, you social animal?

Then there’s the imaginary mountains we often climb, when we mentally check out from life. When we separate ourselves from others with our anger, cynicism, and mistrust, we’ve scaled a peak taller than Everest. We think we’re safe up there, and maybe we are…for a while.

campbells_wisest-kid

“It’s ommmmmm ommmmmm good!”

But what happens to your mountain zen when you step back into the bustle of the human world?

When you’re not wrapped in your cozy blanket of solitude, does your inner peace evaporate? If it does, maybe it’s time to think about some more practical enlightenment.

Consider this: what if “real” enlightenment isn’t a rare thing that you can only obtain through self-imposed exile from other people?

What if the exact opposite is true: real enlightenment is believing you have the mental and emotional skills to keep your cool no matter where you are in life. 

Practical enlightenment is knowing how to keep yourself happy in the middle of life’s incredible whirlwind. The trick is giving yourself permission to be happy. After that, it doesn’t matter what fulfills you, as long as it keeps you living instead of just existing in an aloof shell.

We’re not meant to freeze our butts off on some unreachable height. Because the true meaning of life is to live it. Yes, living brings you into contact with other people. And that’s okay. 

It’s okay to lose your temper, get depressed, or lose faith in humanity at times. If you remember your practical enlightenment, you know those feelings are natural and temporary.

guru-laptopNo, people aren’t going to stop being those beings all around you who can thrill, frustrate, disappoint, enrich, hurt, love, betray, and motivate you. That’s the way things are supposed to be, because without those challenges, your life would truly become like living on mountaintop: unchanging, utterly silent, and boring.

So come on down, before the wise man grabs our usual table and nurses a coffee for three hours for the free WiFi.

***

anthony simeoneAbout the Author
Anthony Simeone is a writer, speaker, personal development activist, and social change warrior with over two decades of experience studying the practical application of literature, philosophy, psychology, and other disciplines. The culmination of his work is the Live the Hero concept, which he offers as a “life path” for use in overcoming daily obstacles. Live the Hero combines the wisdom found in the arts and humanities with the latest discoveries related to modern neuroscience. You can contact Anthony and learn more about his work at livethehero.com.

Real Man Pop Quiz: Do You Store or Explore?

full-garage

Image via simpleeconomist.com

Maybe you’ve heard of or watched that show about hoarding. If not, you probably know what hoarding is: a compulsion to collect and store large amounts of stuff. In the show, we see inside the lives of hoarders, which usually includes tours of homes crammed from floor to ceiling with things people just can’t throw away.

Thinking about that show made me realize that we don’t just hoard physical stuff. We can also compulsively store things virtually, on our computers, online, and—most importantly—in our minds.

Ask yourself right now: are there things you’re squirreling away unnecessarily, due to some fear you’re harboring, or due to sheer procrastination? Is there something you want to do that you’re putting off, maybe for the wrong reasons?

For me, I think of all the emails I get every day about career and life advice I’d like to put into practice. I place a lot of those emails in various folders in my email account, neatly saving them for “later” (whenever that is) instead of taking the most important and reading them right away.

Really think about it right at this moment: are you hoarding your goals, hopes, and dreams? Are you standing in place, storing your aspirations for a “someday” that might never come?

When you feel the urge to put off a change you want to make in your life, make a conscious effort to overcome that habit. Instead of hoarding, take action. 

So, that means I need to start reading those emails most relevant to what I want to accomplish right away, and write down the most important take-aways as I read them. This helps me think about what is most important when it comes to my ongoing education, so I can advance toward my goals.

You’ve probably heard about the book The Top Five Regrets of the Dying. According to the author, the most common end-of-life regret is “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.” We all-too-often compromise when it comes to our dreams. Too many of us reach the end of our lives with things left unfulfilled.

I believe that there’s nothing wrong with wanting to store things. But we also need to be explorers. I also believe that we are all introverts and extroverts to some degree, and these tendencies ebb and flow constantly throughout our lives in a natural cycle.

There are times when we’re focused inward, and at those moments in life we should definitely work on ourselves, gathering our strength and absorbing wisdom. But those times of storage should be balanced with outward exploration, when we show the world what we’ve learned and created.

Don’t keep all that good stuff inside you locked away! Others can and will benefit from what you have to contribute!

Have you ever hoarded your skills, talents, wisdom, or dreams? What have you done to overcome that urge? If you can relate to this post in any way, please leave a comment below and share your experiences!

 ***

anthony simeoneAbout the Author
Anthony Simeone is a writer, speaker, personal development activist, and social change warrior with over two decades of experience studying the practical application of literature, philosophy, psychology, and other disciplines. The culmination of his work is the Live the Hero concept, which he offers as a “life path” for use in overcoming daily obstacles. Live the Hero combines the wisdom found in the arts and humanities with the latest discoveries related to modern neuroscience. You can contact Anthony and learn more about his work at livethehero.com.

In 777 Words: Donald, Hillary and Aiming for Love

It’s political season in the United States, so what better time for an orange analogy?

What does this beloved peelable fruit have to do with politics? Consider an analogy often employed by the late Wayne Dyer.

Wayne liked to point out that when you apply pressure to an orange, orange juice comes out. Why? Because that is what’s inside an orange.

And as the US moves toward electing a new president, what is coming out of so many people? Hate. Why? That is what’s inside of them.

Donald Trump can’t place hatred inside of you. Hillary Clinton can’t, either. Neither can any political candidate in whichever country you happen to call home.

If hatred comes out, it’s because it’s already inside of you. For many of us, keeping this emotion at bay is only as easy as the strength of the feelings that external events stir up in us.

To give an extreme example, no one will ever blame the parents of a child who is murdered for feeling intense hatred toward the person responsible. Thankfully this is a relatively rare occurrence in our society.

But politics? The ideas that exist inside the heads of our would-be leaders? Is it necessary for hatred to pour out of us over this?

I’m not being judgemental. I know what it’s like.

I am a Canadian who spent the first 11 or so years of adulthood enamoured by politics in both Canada and the US. I was the guy watching cable news daily, reading all of the op-eds and subscribing to TIME.

The problem with going so far down the political rabbit hole, like I had, is that it’s easy to fall into an “us versus them” trap.

Pretty soon, people outside of “your” party are seen as “others,” if not despicable. After a while, you prejudge people based on how they vote, or make assumptions about their political preferences: “That dumb redneck voted for George” or “That useless welfare bum voted for Bill.”

I remember finding myself making arguments that I didn’t really believe in, simply because “my” party advocated them. I stopped thinking for myself because of the emotion involved. If you observe politics today, it is evident that a lot of people are doing this; they don’t want to give their “enemies” an inch. It’s one big ego game.

From there, things can grow more extreme, as they have during this current presidential campaign. One day a protester is punched in the face at a Trump rally; the next prominent actor Don Cheadle is sharing his wish that Trump would “die in a grease fire.”

How far will it go? As far as the anger inside of people.

This year, I have taken a huge step back from politics. I stopped watching the talk shows. I have gradually quieted the inner chatter that demanded my political viewpoints be vindicated. I began only glancing at the headlines, rarely clicking on a political article.

I had come to the realization that being so intimately involved with divisive politics is not conducive to leading a life of love and serenity. I want to be okay with whoever wins, and love whoever wins, and that’s much harder to do that if I’m knee-deep in the game and unwilling to consider other viewpoints.

To those who are punching people in the face, or wishing others painful demises, why not just vote for somebody else? Why get caught up in the hate game yourself? Does it feel good? Or do you get an unpleasant rush inside that momentarily satisfies your ego but ultimately drains you?

One of the things about being sensitive is that when you pay attention, you really notice what feels good, or right, and what doesn’t. Dishing out hatred never feels good. Sending out love does. It doesn’t matter who is on the receiving end.

Moving away from anger and emotion around politics is a process that takes time. In my case, practices such as meditation and the Sedona Method (Google for details) have helped a great deal. So has quieting my former obsession with being right.

What this means is that while I still have some quiet moments of glee over this or that political episode, I am detached enough from the outcome that I can be an entertained observer. The idea of loving whoever wins does not seem daunting.

As I put the finishing touches on this column, I got a text from a friend inviting me to watch the first presidential debate with other politicos. Knowing the type of mocking, hateful energy that will be on display, I’m politely declining.

I’d rather aim for love than hate.

Be the Genius of Yourself

real-genius-poster

In September 1995, comedian Pat Cooper made an infamous appearance on Howard Stern’s radio show. It was another situation where Stern (purposely or not) goaded a celebrity into an argument, and the result was pure entertainment.

I clearly remember the moment during their on-air fight when Howard challenged Cooper by asking “What are you a genius of?” To which Cooper responded “I am a genius of myself.”

There’s debate on what Cooper meant by that phrase. Some think he had just spouted nonsense. Others thought he was being smug.

But my favorite theory is that Cooper believes in knowing himself, and his abilities, very well.

Wisdom from a Howard Stern broadcast? Just stick with me here.

Cooper made me think of the saying “Know Thyself.” You may have seen this phrase (also known as an aphorism) used by Greek philosopher Plato (who is perhaps slightly more famous than Pat Cooper). Plato’s gist was this: you have to understand yourself before you can understand anyone else. It’s a beautiful paradox that self-knowledge ultimately leads to other-knowledge.

This is why we, as men, have to fight against the bad habit of ignoring our mental and emotional depth. We have to commit to unlearning the stereotype of the “never-weak” male, where sensitivity and exploration of our feelings is perceived as weakness. Because avoiding internal self-improvement is the root of much of the conflict we experience in our daily lives.

When we don’t understand ourselves, how can we hope to understand others?

Guys, it’s simple: we need to stop beating ourselves up. For our own sake, and the sake of those around us.
(TWEET THIS!)

But don’t just take my word for it. You can read up on the sociological and psychological research regarding the dangers of being a stranger to yourself.

So what can you do to get to know yourself better? Start with the conscious decision to command the direction of your life.

Captaining Your Fate

If you’ve seen the movie “Invictus,” you know the quote from the William Ernest Henley poem of the same name: “I am the master of my fate. I am the captain of my soul.”

We all want to be the master of our own fate, right? The problem is, too many of us wait for external circumstances to give us the signal that we can take charge of ourselves. We tell ourselves we’ll work to be better personally when we get the right job, the right romantic partner, the right connections.

Don’t wait for outside permission to work on yourself, because the “right time” will never come.
(TWEET THIS!)

We often become frustrated when the world around us seems to thwart our plans. But if we focus on what we can control – our inner world – we can learn to react calmly and effectively to external forces we can’t control (especially other people).

So, inner-mastery should be a priority in our lives. That’s the foundation for outer-mastery. But what can we master within ourselves?

Primarily, it’s important to choose how you will react to any circumstance life brings your way.

We often cannot change the situations we find ourselves in, but we can change our reactions to those situations. It takes mindfulness and practice, but the change can be made.

The better you know your own human condition, the more tolerance you’ll have for the seemingly random events of circumstance as well as the actions of others. You’ll also develop the emotional resilience to rebound when things don’t go your way.

Remember that everyone on this planet is on a path of struggle and growth, just like you. Whether you realize it or not, your actions can seem just as random and confusion to other people. Very often, the misunderstandings we encounter in life are the result of miscommunication and the bad habit of assuming too much. This is why it’s important to simply talk to other people, and to stop believing you know what other people are thinking.

So here’s my challenge to you: make the decision today to be the genius of yourself!

***

If you liked this post, please leave a comment and share it with others!

anthony simeoneAbout the Author
Anthony Simeone is a writer, speaker, personal development activist, and social change warrior with over two decades of experience studying the practical application of literature, philosophy, psychology, and other disciplines. The culmination of his work is the Live the Hero concept, which he offers as a life path for use in overcoming life’s daily obstacles. Live the Hero combines the wisdom found in the arts and humanities with the latest discoveries related to modern neuroscience.

You can contact Anthony and learn more about his work at livethehero.com.

Two Things My Dad Taught Me Without Telling Me

I posted this originally on my personal blog. I am grateful everytime I find a man who expresses emotions openly. And what better person to learn such a thing from than my dad?  Here are some other things he taught me without words.


My dad’s wisdom is 1950’s-meets-Emily-Post. Be kind. Be thoughtful. Be proper. Do the right thing. Family first. He never said any of these words. He just showed me what he expected.

 Dad

“Be safe”

Since I was four (likely earlier but who remembers) my dad has been sternly cautioning me to “be safe” and “don’t do anything stupid”. These statements don’t have any qualifiers or explanations. When I was 10 “be safe” meant “don’t ride your bike in the middle of the street”. I assume now at 40 he means “don’t drive your car on the sidewalk” but who knows, he never actually defined safety.

When I was young he showed me how to be safe by:

  • Sitting in the car for extended periods of time until I figured out to buckle up
  • Standing on the side of the road for minutes until I figured out to look both ways
  • Lightly smacking my hand when I tried to touch anything hot or sharp

When I was a teenager his safety lessons were more of an interrogation:

  • Who are you going out with?
  • Will parents be there?
  • What will you do if someone you don’t know offers you a ride home?

Fun fact: when my first date picked me up to go out my dad snuck out of the house and wrote down the guy’s license plate number.

When I moved out of the house his safety lessons evolved into observational questions:

  • When I traveled, particularly to a city he had been to, “do you know which streets to avoid?”
  • When I moved into my own home, “do you check to see if everything looks ‘right’ before you go in?”

My dad’s prompts led me to seek out information on how to be safe in every situation. And insist my kids do the same. As my kids leave the house I call after them, “BE SAFE! I mean, look both ways before you cross the street…if you get lost, ask a mom for help…” My kids are long gone before I finish my list.

Perhaps my dad was on to something. “Be Safe” is vague but succinct.

 

It’s the little things we remember forever

When I was little I chanted, “It’s so nice to have a daddy around the house” (which I’m sure was a line fed to me by my dad but it was true so I happily sang it). And now? I still call on him to:

  • Remove dead birds from my door step
  • Find someone to snowplow my driveway
  • Remove hornets from my house
  • Take the kids to various inconvenient places at inconvenient times
  • Fix things around my house and/or supervise electricians and plumbers
  • Rescue me when I lock myself out of my house

(Important to note that my dad does these things when Josh is traveling. Maybe Josh is the one who should chant “it’s so nice to have a Daddy around the house” for my dad).

Whether I ask or not, my dad:

  • Checks the tires of all cars in my driveway. Even guests. If your car is parked in my driveways, he is making sure it’s safe
  • Monitors all doors to make sure they are locked (see “be safe” above)
  • Brings me half-moons from my favorite bakery
  • Opens every door for me (chivalrous, charming, and completely annoying but I love it)
  • Insists we drive as many places together as possible even when it completely inconveniences him
  • Reminds me about upcoming birthdays, anniversaries, and milestones

My dad never sat me down to say, “make sure you do a lot of little things for people you love. They might not thank you until they are 40. They might not notice in the moment. But over time all of these little things add up to a lot of love.”

 

A bonus lesson: gratitude

Brene Brown (must.watch.ted.talk.) recently said the emotion people have the most difficulty feeling is joy. And people who are able to experience joy the most deeply — and without remorse — have one thing in common.

Gratitude.

The most important lesson my dad showed me was that:

gratitude

I am grateful for the countless things my dad is teaching me. And even more grateful that he is still teaching me.

 

It’s Time to Be Your Brother’s Keeper

cainandabelkillYou know the story of Cain and Abel, right? Even if the Bible isn’t your thing (because you follow another religion, you’re an atheist, whatever), most of us in the Western world know the legend of the first murder.

In short: Abel and Cain, first children of Adam and Eve. Abel served up animal sacrifices to God, while Cain offered plants. God seemed to prefer what Abel was dishing out. Cain gets jealous, decides to kill Abel (one theory suggests Cain thought God would like a human sacrifice, something even more precious than a lamb).

Cain kills Abel with, um, the jawbone of an ass (my theory: this is a metaphor for Cain acting like an ass, whining/”jawing” at his brother until Abel died of boredom). God comes looking for Abel, and asks Cain about Abel’s whereabouts (another theory: God knew where Abel was because, well, he’s God, and was testing Cain to see if he had any redeeming qualities by admitting his guilt).

What was Cain’s reply to God? “I don’t know. Am I my brother’s keeper?” (I imagine him being very sarcastic about that)

I imagine God would have told Cain YES, you ARE supposed to be your brother’s keeper. But, sadly, nothing seemed to change after that first murder. Men have long been competing with, fighting, and killing each other. Much to our detriment and sorrow, right up to today.

MEN, WE NEED TO FLIP THE SCRIPT FROM COMPETITION TO COOPERATION.

As I always say when I go on one of my social change activist rants, this isn’t some wishy-washy, touchy-feely kumbaya suggestion. This is a matter of urgent and practical necessity.

The first rule of Fight Club? Don't join Fight Club.

The first rule of Fight Club? Don’t join Fight Club.

It may be no secret that men lead the charge when it comes to death from suicide, heart disease, violent crime, drug use, and on and on. But many of us ignore a big underlying cause of the destructive behaviors that result in male mortality: rampant extreme competition.

Western culture, especially in the United States, tends to train men to see each other as competitors. And while a healthy level of competitiveness is good for us and drives us to be better, there is a toxic version of competition many of us have been taught.

My own father always stressed that it was a “dog-eat-dog world” in which I was never to trust anyone. Other men were just out there to mess with you, take your stuff, and generally screw you over.

But we’re more than animals (no matter how often people try to tell us different). I like to say human beings are both apes and angels: the ape represents our evolutionary primate survival mechanisms, and the angel is our ability to rationalize and create works of art. Both sides of our nature are vital to our survival. The tension between the two keeps us striving, moving forward, and help us avoid stagnation.

But when we rely too much on either the ape or the angel, we throw things out of balance and we no longer grow.

This means, as men, we aren’t destined to just be at each other’s throats, eternally clawing for supremacy to become the cliched “alpha male.” Our culture’s fixation on males vying to Friendsdominate and destroy each other CAN be changed. It’s just another bad societal habit that we can work out.

When you hear the pundits lament the fact that our nation is no longer innovating, you can bet a leading cause of that apathy is over-competitive men suppressing each other (not to mention suppressing the advancement of women’s equality, but that’s a topic for another post).

Men need to work together to cultivate a healthy balance of competition and cooperation. We need to see each other as brothers, whether we share common genetics or not.

The time is NOW. Be your brother’s keeper, and let’s keep each other alive and thriving!

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anthony simeoneAbout the Author
Anthony Simeone is a writer, speaker, personal development activist, and social change warrior with over two decades of experience studying the practical application of literature, philosophy, psychology, and other disciplines. The culmination of his work is the Live the Hero concept, which he offers as a life path for use in overcoming life’s daily obstacles. Live the Hero combines the wisdom found in the arts and humanities with the latest discoveries related to modern neuroscience. You can contact Anthony and learn more about his work at livethehero.com.

Let’s Rewrite the Rules of Manhood Together

man-in-crowdYou know something’s wrong. You can feel it.

Like Neo in The Matrix, you know things aren’t the way they’re supposed to be. But we’re not talking about the world around you. There’s something happening with your inner world. It has you frustrated, restless, unhappy. But knowing about the wrongness hasn’t made it better. In fact, it’s made things worse.

I’ve been there, trust me. For decades, I wandered through my own life without a purpose. I often felt useless, no matter what I achieved. It took a lot of time and suffering before I began to suspect I was running on obsolete “social software.”

Like me, maybe you fell for the notion that men are supposed to be pillars of strength that don’t feel too much, think too much, or dream too big. Maybe you were taught the world is a nasty, dog-eat-dog place where dreams are a luxury we can’t afford. This worldview may have sent you into a downward spiral of isolation and depression.

Maybe, like me, you’ve never really given up hope that things could be different.

A New Man for This Century…and Beyond

The opening line of Allen Ginsberg‘s Howl says “I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness.” I saw this line played out too many times in my own life and the lives of men around me. Finally, I realized the madness was being taught to us, blindly passed down because “that’s just the way it is.”

I’d had enough. I waded through years of struggle and a lot of trial-and-error experimentation with different religions, philosophies, and therapies. It wasn’t until I brought together ideas from a wide variety of teachings that I discovered something that worked for me.

What I discovered is, ultimately, you must start by being the hero of your own life.

You must make the conscious choice to believe in your own personal power to determine your own purpose and meaning for your life. It’s the vital first step on the road to fulfillment and happiness.

I’m so inspired by the creators of Real Men Feel, Andy Grant and Appio Hunter. They’re kindred spirits to me and any other modern man who is tired of laboring under the stereotype of the macho man. They are fellow travelers on the road.

Most importantly, Andy and Appio have planted the seed of what I believe will become a community of men who can no longer sit back and keep silent about men’s issues. Like me, they want to give you alternatives to the male stereotype we’ve been slaving under for too long. That old framework is rotted out, and together we can build something better to replace it.

What Have You Got to Lose?

It’s not just our minds that are at risk. Our lives are also at stake. Approximately 87 men commit suicide every day in the United States. Over six million men suffer from a major bout of depression every year, which not only affects the mind but the body as well (it’s a contributing factor for heart disease).

Let’s be clear: I’m not talking about saving the world. I’m talking about saving you.

But when you save yourself, a funny thing often happens. The Talmud says “whoever saves a life, it is considered as if he saved an entire world.”There are opportunities every day, big and small, for us to rise to the challenges of life and act heroically.

If you or someone you know would benefit from the weekly Real Men Feel show, I encourage you to check out the show and spread the word about it. Strength comes from numbers and together, we can work to create a new, positive definition of what it means to be a man.

If you liked this post, please share it with those you feel will benefit from reading it. And please leave a comment about your own struggles and what you’ve done to overcome adversity.

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anthony simeoneAbout the Author
Anthony Simeone is a writer, speaker, and social activist with over two decades of experience studying the practical application of literature, philosophy, psychology, and other disciplines. The culmination of his work is the Live the Hero concept, which he offers as a life path for use in overcoming life’s daily obstacles. Live the Hero combines the wisdom found in the arts and humanities with the latest discoveries related to modern neuroscience. You can contact Anthony and learn more about his work at livethehero.com.