I started going to drop-in dance classes to meet people and improve on the masculine traits I was lacking. I heard it was a good way to learn how to lead and be more assertive, which I lacked as a typical nice guy. But man, I learned so much more.
Fast forward a couple years, I have now done several classes of Salsa, Bachata, Tango, Ballroom, Cha Cha, Country Line Dancing, Swing, and Lindy Hop.
Here are some lessons I learned in being a man from these partner dances:
We aren’t perfect. We want to stay upbeat and positive all the time because it feels better, we feel better, and it helps us get more done and attract awesome people into our lives. But it’s hard. Life rocks us with tough times and negative people.
So how do you stay positive when your life isn’t going well or life events bring you down?
This has been a problem I have experimented with for years. I poured over the scientific literature, studied interviews and books of celebrities that always seemed upbeat (like Will Smith, Ellen DeGeneres, Oprah Winfrey, and Michael Strahan) and asked every person who was always beaming with positivity for advice.
Don’t take it from me; listen to one of the most famous, successful billionaires out there, Richard Branson. He wrote a blog post on why positivity is so important. Long story short, positivity can spread to others. It can make you and your team more productive and happy while making work more enjoyable.
Moreover, consider the downsides of negativity. I used to be a naturally negative person before I got into self help and I didn’t even realize it. Negative thinking can spiral downwards into depression, anxiety, lack of will to do anything, lack of energy, frustration, anger, resentment, frustration, jealousy, and/or a greater willingness to give up.
“Social intelligence was therefore always at a high premium. A sharp sense of empathy can make a huge difference, and with it in an ability to manipulate, to gain cooperation, and to deceive.” ― Edward O. Wilson, The Social Conquest of Earth
I’ve been a nerd for most of my life. I only cared about grades in school because I thought that was all that mattered.
But I was completely wrong.
As I grew older, poor social skills lead to bad results in other areas of my life. I had few friends. I barely talked in social gatherings. My dating life didn’t exist. Job interviews usually ended with no offer. Communicating with people I worked with wasn’t effective or natural. You get the point.
As I started trying to improve, I studied the world’s most successful, wealthy people. I realized that they were also very emotionally and socially intelligent too. I also found, through books like Outliers and Emotion Intelligence, that studies tracking thousands of people found that people with high IQs often still failed at life.
There were plenty of people who didn’t follow the standard correlation we assume between high IQ and life success. There were many more factors involved in success, once of which is social intelligence.
A year ago, I stumbled on an article on how to be mentally strong that got a ton of comments and shares. It confused me. Why do all these people care about this?
I didn’t care about being mentally tough. I wanted money and happiness. And I didn’t see how mental toughness would help me with that unless I wanted to change my goals to becoming a Navy SEAL. But everything’s changed since then.
Mental toughness is incredibly important to your peak performance.
Today, I’m going to share with you everything you need to know on a critical skill you may be overlooking. I’ll share with you why mental toughness matters and how to improve it. And if you’re wondering why you should trust me, it’s because all my advice comes from people you can trust: the world’s top performers.
Imagine finding yourself in the only social event you will go to for the day, ready to talk to people. You’ve prepared yourself for the moment. You know you’re deathly shy and scared of talking to new people. But if you don’t take action in this one moment, you will regret it. There won’t be many more chances to make new friends or meet a hot date.
But despite your preparations, you freeze up when it’s time. You find yourself doing anything except talking to other people. Then, the event is over.
You are kicking yourself in your head and you dwell on the fact that you did nothing for the next hour … or even the entire week.
I’ve been there. I’ve had crippling shyness. It sucks. It still sucks. But you are not alone. There are hordes of perfectly kind, mentally healthy people who are just too shy to do meet others. To this day, I still run into people (even successful, attractive young women) who struggle with these issues and fail to reach their potential.
I’m going to show you a path you can take to overcome shyness and social anxiety and achieve the friendships and relationships you have always wanted. Sound too good to be true? I understand. With such a sweet deal, you have to do something in exchange. And that is to be patient and consistently work through the process. It will take time.
“I’m driving myself to insanity with over-thinking, self-analysis, self-doubt, self-loathing, internal misery and zero action. What do I do?”
Well, you’re talking to the king of overthinking. I’m definitely in the top 1% of overthinking and over-analyzing everything (I mean just look at this blog).
I didn’t think I was that bad until I started journaling all the thoughts I remembered happening after dates or stressful situations. I ended up with essays that were multiple pages long analyzing every issue. These thoughts included:
“If I say this, will I look weird?”
“They’re judging me because I’m one of the only Asians here.”
“Do I look weird or awkward? Why aren’t they talking to me? Do they hate me?”
When I showed it to people I trust, they were blown away by how much I thought. For some guys, all they think about during a single date is “This is going well.”
Yet I’ve been able to see noticeable progress by experimenting with a lot of tactics, including meditation, which has dramatically helped me stay present in the moment.
Listen to this new podcast episode for a full answer:
Passing my essay to a group of men I trust online (this can be an online forum but preferably someone in person — I recommend the Order of Man Facebook group) helps give realistic feedback. When you’re in your own delusional world, you can’t tell what you’re doing wrong.
For me, these men identified the overthinking as a prime issue when I had it far down my list as a potential problem.
One of them told me that their only thoughts during a date where “She was pretty. It went well.” That really put into perspective a mentally healthier benchmark to aim for.
Meditation isn’t for anyone and it takes a lot of time to ramp up. But it helps. It really helps identify how many thoughts the average person has through their day and how tough it is to just be present and enjoy the moment. I started with just two minutes a day so I didn’t burn out but now, I love and appreciate it. It’s been a year since I started.
I recommend Insight Timer App. It has thousands of guided meditations of many categories from some of the top meditation leaders, all for free – no upsells or hidden app purchases.
I got a question from a mother who is going through tough times on multiple fronts. If you join my email newsletter (there’s plenty of places to sign up, such as at the bottom of this article), you can reply to an email with your question, and I will try to help you.
As the title of this article hints, she’s failing at most areas of life. Let’s call her Dana (not her real name)
I don’t tend to address issues like this because it attracts people I can’t help (even if I want to). My content is focused more on high achievers who can execute. But this time, I was compelled to answer (and post this with her permission) because it was so emotional, genuine, and almost everything I’ve released online started because I was like this women and wanted to learn how to get better. I want to add some value here, even if my tips won’t solve everything.
I’ve posted a shortened version of Dana’s question and my answer to help anyone going through something similar:
Hi Will, I’m 55 years old and a single mom of 3.
I have been divorced for just over 11 years. My oldest son has Aspergers. So this had kept me home for a good portion of his upbringing. He is now 21.
When I was younger.. and I mean in my 20’s, I was confident, assertive. Happy go lucky. I was a pursuer (head flight attendant on international flights for a prominent airline), I could make decisions quickly, without a second thought, no second guessing. And I never doubted myself. I always knew what I needed to do or wanted to do. No matter what it was in regards to. My life, health wise, relationship wise, financial, family, ect.
I grew up pretty much alone. Living on my own since I was 16. I married at 28. My ex-husband was an alcoholic and emotionally abusive. This was the initial decent into depression for me.
I lost all my friends because I was not allowed to see anyone, in a round about way. We only hung out with his friends, or family.
So after a time, my friends stopped coming around.
Anyways, after years of emotional abuse, and becoming permanently disabled myself at 40, I divorced him.
I was so happy to be away from him. Having taken my kids away, to a happier place. It was a fresh start. But I started to realize I had no friends, most my family was in other areas of the country. And since I was disabled and with no money, well.. it started to take its toll.
I am unable to work outside the home, so I didn’t have as much opportunity to meet people for friends or romantic relationships.
After one severely failed relationship, my depression started to spiral even more so. It’s hard to always be alone. And no matter how positive you try to be, when no one wants to be in a relationship with you because they are older and do not want younger children, especially someone else’s or they want a newer model (what I call younger women) and most women my age (for friendship) are too busy with their own crap.
So not only am I depressed, I have no one to talk to, I have lost all my friends, and I have no one in my life relationship wise, and the way I see myself and life has changed dramatically.
I am no longer the positive, quick thinking, know what I need to do person that I use to be. Half the time, I cant figure out what to wear every day. Or what to make for dinner.
My kids don’t talk to me, and have little or no respect for me.
So Will, if you can write an article about taking a person from the dumps and building them up to at least feeling some semblance of happiness and confidence again, I would very much appreciate it because I honestly don’t know where to start.
My Response and Advice:
Thanks for the heartfelt message.
Wow. I’m no miracle worker and this seems to be a really tough situation.But I can try my best to help guide you towards the right path. Keep Reading
When it comes to self help books for men, the books I recommend may not be what you expect. They’re not tactical books on improving your habits or focus. They’re books that dive deeper and focus on the inner psychology that are preventing you from taking action on the tactics you read about it. This may includes books on building the fundamental traits of a healthy man.
We currently live in at an era where many men are frustrated and functioning far from their potential.
We’re angry, frustrated, fearful, or anxious with our situation or lack of results and if we will stay in this plateau forever.
It’s not completely your fault. Society and your upbringing may have failed you. Many of the strong fundamentals of becoming an attractive man, like a coming of age rite of passage, male role models, and exposure the benefits of assertiveness and aggression were eliminated in your upbringing thanks to the modern world.
Because of this, many men lack strong friendships with other men, a spine to stand up for themselves or others, or the ability to effectively behave as a man, which can damage their success in their career, dating life, ability to make male friends, or romantic relationship.
A few books have helped me see what has occurred and how to improve it. You see, I’m a stereotypical nice guy. I’m overly passive, I’m scared of conflict, I dwell on anxiety for too long, I please for approval, and I have done kind things expecting something back.
I’ve learned that false belief systems prevent us from getting the results we want but we cling onto them hoping our results will change. I discovered that our beliefs came from a mixture of possible factors including radical feminism views that demonized male traits like assertiveness or dominance, lack of male role models and friends growing up, having few male teachers, past trauma with interactions with other men, and the rise of cities to replace towns.
This modernization of the world has removed vital parts of what we genetically need to become attractive, functional men in society. Our happiness and social skills could be low because of a lack of a tribe to develop strong, recurring relationships. Our extreme views on assertiveness and expressing sexuality could cause so much shame that we never stand up for ourselves or express romantic interest. Our lack of strong friendships could dramatically cripple our dating lives, emotional intelligence, and mental health.
Watch the video below for the five books that will help change your life as a man:
Note: I am not blaming women for all my problems. I am simply trying to have higher quality relationships with men as friends and women romantically in my life. I want to do that by working on my emotional behaviors (or Nice Guy qualities) that are holding me back from an evolutionary biology perspective.
I added this note as an update because one of my readers asked if knew about the MGTOW, Red Pill, and the Pick Up Artist communities. I’m aware of their existence but that’s about it right now. In his email, I could see a lot of hatred towards women and other men. That’s the exact reason I don’t follow their teachings. Recently, they have all developed extremist and toxic views on the world filled with hatred and deep psychological issues focused on manipulation or blaming others.
Now, I’d like to hear from you. Is there a book I missed that really helped you? Has any piece of advice, influencer, or book impacted your life positively in your journey to become a better man? Let me know in the comments below.