“He’s soft.” There’s not a man alive that wants to hear that said about him. Not in the bedroom, not on the playing field, and not anywhere else. Being soft is never good for a man. Women can be soft. Men cannot.
But modern life makes it hard to be hard. We have built a society around making everything we do as comfortable and convenient as possible. I’m not saying that’s a mistake. That’s probably in man’s nature. But it does have consequences. Softness is one of them. I suspect that with softness comes anxiety, depression, malaise, restlessness, crime, and host of other detrimental effects for men.
There was a time when life was very, very hard. If you wanted to stay warm, you had to find wood and build a fire. If you wanted food, you had to hunt it, kill it, butcher it, and drag it back to camp. If you wanted water, you had to travel to it. If you wanted shelter, you had to build it. Every single thing required planning and effort. Everything was hard.
Today nothing is hard. If you can read and click buttons, you can have everything you need to stay alive and stay comfortable. But that type of living does not satisfy. It’s not what we’re made for. Men are made for usefulness. We’re made for competence. We’re made for hard.
So when we’re soft, we’re not happy. We know we could be more and we know we should be more. We say we’ll get around to it. And most of us never do. Because we’re not required to.
A Problem-Free Life Does Not Exist
Here’s the kicker: avoiding hard things and uncomfortable situations does not result in a problem-free life. It just means our problems are more trivial. Our minds are design to identify problems. When life is hard, our minds focus on the big problems: food, shelter, medicine, health care, relationships, etc. When life is easy, we focus on the trivial problems: traffic, annoying co-workers, whether our lawn looks good, whether the grocery has our favorite ice cream, etc.
Interestingly, the pandemic made life easier, not harder. We did everything virtually. We didn’t go anywhere or have to deal with anyone. Many just stayed at home, worked remotely, and watched Netflix. And complained about it all.
Here’s the fact: we’re never going to be as hard as our great-grandfathers. Life was harder then, and it built harder men. But we don’t have to be soft. We can rise up. We can choose the hard way. If we don’t, you can be sure that softness will creep into our lives more and more.
How to Fight “Softness Creep”
What does that look like? Here are some ways to avoid getting soft:
- Spend lots of time outdoors regardless of the weather. Nature cannot be controlled. It doesn’t care about your feelings or your temperature preference. Get out in it and let it hammer away your soft edges. Go outside in the cold, the heat, the rain, the snow, whatever. And deal with it.
- Get strong. It requires that you push when you don’t want to, consistently and over the long haul.
- Get up early. Make sure you get plenty of sleep regularly, but get up early. Modern life will let you sleep in. Refuse.
- Get comfortable in the dark. That requires spending time there. Light pollution is a phenomenon of modern life. Find dark places and hang out there.
- Take ice baths or cold showers. Is it cheesy and contrived? Yes. Will it make you harder? Also yes.
- Fast. Spend significant amounts of time without eating. Remind your body what it’s like to be hungry. Most of our eating is habit-based and emotion-based, not hunger-based. Get back to that.
- Hunt. It’s an excellent way to accomplish several other goals on this list while testing your skills and patience.
- Refuse to complain. Almost all the stuff we complain about is ridiculous anyway.
It’s past time most men wake up to the fact that they’re soft. And fighting it will be a lifetime struggle. We should be grateful for the fact that life in our day is easy. And we should honor that gift by refusing to be soft. That’s the man’s life. Godspeed.