Man magazine senior contributor Ryan Vrede shares things guys should know and New Year’s resolutions nobody will tell you to make, but you should.
The last two years have been torture for us all. Living through a pandemic is brutal, on body and mind. The latter is particularly important. Mental illness has spiked exponentially in South Africa, and men have been hardest hit. Maybe this has something to do with our reluctance to talk about what’s happening in our nut. If you are struggling, I hope you find the courage to talk to someone who can help you. But in my own personal battle with my mind, I’ve realised a few critical things that have helped release me of some of the stress associated with living this version of life. And in the midst of people telling you your New Year’s resolution should be about losing weight, quitting smoking or running a marathon (all good things), here’s an alternative list born from my musings in lockdown.
Edit your friendship group
Commit to only spending time with people who add value to your life, and to whose lives you can add value to. That needy friend who only calls you to complain about self-inflicted anguish in their lives? Cut their ass. The chronic borrower? Gone. Cold, but highly liberating. Once you’ve cut the fat, tell the people who remain that you love them, often.
Spend more time alone
I know this is counter-intuitive given that we’re only just emerging from a lockdown that has forced us to be alone often. What I mean is being alone by choice and in ways that refresh your mind, soul and body. Whether it’s running in the mountain, expressing your creativity through writing, music, art or simply sitting quietly in your place of peace, do it.
Say ‘no’ more often
This is particularly important for those of us who are people-pleasers. The problem with this is that those who need to be pleased often sense your vulnerability in this area, and exploit it. Prioritise what’s important to you, and do that. Everything else you do at your discretion. This will take some practice. Initially, it may be hard to tell friends or family that you’d prefer to stay in, as opposed to having a night on the town. Or that you don’t want to spend time in the company of people who steal your joy. But it gets easier. And you get happier.
Spend money on lasting memories, not things
If you can do both, great. You’re in a wonderful place in life. If you have to choose between flashy clothes to impress people at the spot where you will buy overpriced alcohol and a trip abroad or the local getaway you’ve always wanted to do, choose the latter. The memories you make there will last longer than the hangover. I challenge you to tally up what you spent on things in 2021 that have no lasting memories, and then do the sums on what the experience you have always dreamt of will cost. It will be an eye-opener.
More selfless, less selfies
We live in a time where people are obsessed with themselves. The ‘cult of me’ has gained more followers in the last two years than at any time in history. I understand part of why this is. We consume social media content from creators who are shamelessly self-obsessed. It has rewired our brains to be just so. This year, help your neighbour. And I mean help them consistently, not just once off. You don’t have to serve hundreds. A handful is enough. Do whatever you can to make their lives better. You’ll find that this gives you authentic and sustainable joy.
Words by Ryan Vrede