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WISDOM FOR DUDES

wake the fuck up!

At 26, I’m just old enough to have recognized I’m basically clueless, but still young (and foolish) enough to attempt to lay down some badass life wisdom. These are the principles and practices that I use in an attempt to live consciously and embody the fullest expression of my self possible. Most of what I write here I’ve gathered from books, teachers, mentors, and wise friends. It all seems like common sense now, but it took me years of new-age flavored self exploration to put it all together, and even longer to begin integrating some of this wisdom in my own life. Sadly, we live in a culture that demands little of dudes spiritually, and dilutes our passions with chemicals and entertainment. I wish someone had just laid this stuff out for me in plain speak ages ago and told me to wake the fuck up. So that is what I will attempt to do now. Being a righteous dude should not be complicated.

This collection is dedicated to my brother, who is 18 and still knows everything.

Is this just for dudes?

Yes and no. At least some of the ideas here will apply to you whether you are a dude or not. That said, everything here was written with dudes like myself in mind. Oh, and what is a dude? Each of us posses some balance of both masculine and feminine qualities independent from our gender or sexual orientation. For the purposes of this collection, a dude is anyone who identifies as having a primarily masculine nature.

kill the snooze

Good morning! You have been given the gift of another day miraculous day. Why is your first reaction to retreat back under the covers? When you set your morning alarm you make a tacit promise to yourself to get up at a certain time. The snooze button undermines your resolve by tempting you to break this promise as your first semi-conscious act of the day. Don’t give in. Don’t begin your day with a quiet failure. When your alarm goes off, just get out of bed. If you’re tired that means you’ll probably go to bed a little earlier tonight. If you want to sleep in, make that a conscious decision before you go to sleep.

find your purpose do not settle for less

As a dude, there is nothing more important than your reason for being here. It is around a singular life-purpose that all the elements of your life-- work, relationships, family-- all potentially come into alignment. Purposeless, you are adrift at sea reacting to the world rather than filling it with your own consciousness. Life becomes monotonous, mechanical, and devoid of inherent meaning. Video games, pro sports, and television can provide a sense of purpose through the observation of other dudes on a mission. If you spend a lot of time with any of these activities, you’re probably out of touch with a deep sense of purpose. If you have no sense of what you want, begin by cutting out all these activities. Do not settle for the imitation of fulfilment. Work on accepting the fact you do not know what to do and remain open. Eventually some sense of purpose will come to you, and when it does, explore it. Commit yourself as fully as possible.

When you fully live that purpose (perhaps after some success or validation) you may find that once again you long for more meaning. Maybe this is where you are right now, successful at what you do but disconnected from a deep sense of purpose and fulfilment. Then it is time to open yourself to a new purpose. Do what you must to gracefully exit your current situation and move on to the next job, project, or relationship. With each concentric attempt at fulfillment you move closer to touching your deepest purpose which is waiting at your core.

Go read The Way of the Superior Man by David Deida

beware of stuff

Possessions are funny things. They give you pleasure, but in return they implicitly demand your attention and energy. When we neglect our possessions, let them get dusty, or keep them in storage, they become sources of guilt and develop a tendency to stay with us much longer than is necessary. Avoid extra stuff, reduce your belongings with impunity, only keep what you really love.

ejaculate less

Obviously it feels good to ejaculate, especially if tension has built up in your daily life, but that release and pleasure does not come free... so to speak. Your sexual energy is like wind in your sails, driving you deeper into life and relationships, allowing you penetrate the world with your action and presence. Ejaculation quite literally steals the wind from your sails, and leaves you satisfied to drift for a while in unconsciousness. This drifting manifests as mediocrity in daily life, and in relationships can become a source of distrust and dissatisfaction. Excess ejaculation will leave you subtlety depleted all of the time, willing to settle for what's comfortable rather than live with your full potential.

If you want to live (and love) fully, you must learn how to manage your sexual energy, which, like a strong wind at sea, takes knowledge and skill to harness for a useful purpose. There are many practices out there for making good use of sexual energy, and bringing your mechanical reflexes under control.

Go read Cultivating Male Sexual Energy by Mantak Chia

practice giving your full attention

I recently went to a bar and witnessed out of the ten couples there, eight had their smartphones in hand or resting on the table. Perhaps skinny jeans are to blame, but this scene made me sad. There is something wonderful about giving your full undivided attention to someone (especially a woman), to experience as much of that person as possible in the moment, without any hidden agenda or background mental chatter. This is a skill that may come naturally for some, but for me I had to work at it by consciously practicing giving my full attention to friends, to colleagues in meetings, and even in momentary encounters with baristas or cab drivers. As you develop this ability every human interaction you have will become deeper, more meaningful, and loving.

stop eating crap

Educate yourself now about how to eat well. It is arguably the most important thing you can do for your health and physical well being. It’s not complicated, but the world is full of crappy food designed for you to like it. Until you start eating well, it’s impossible to understand how crappy you might be feeling right now.

Go read Food Rules: An Eater's Manual by Michael Pollan

push yourself physically

In a culture of the mind, bodily intelligence is often under-appreciated. To live disassociated from your own body is to be cut off from your essential nature and all it has to teach you. Regular exercise is great, but it is not enough. To develop bodily intelligence you must be willing to test the limits of what you are capable of. Only by leaning just beyond your edge can you really know yourself on the physical level. And by owning your fear and discomfort through physical action you alter your fundamental relationship the very forces which limit your potential in daily life. There is no need to punish yourself. Be good to your body, but do not be afraid to push yourself just beyond your edge and discover what awaits you there.

Go read The 4-Hour Body by Tim Ferriss

turn off the porn

How would you feel if you no longer had access to porn? Using porn as a masturbatory aid reinforces the idea that the purpose of sex is for you to ejaculate. Porn literally trains you to come quickly and frequently. While from a biological or reproductive perspective ejaculating as quickly as possible has an evolutionary advantage, this approach to sex obviously undermines your ability to satisfy a partner with your full unwavering presence. Porn also has the potential to warp your expectations and beliefs about what good sex looks or feels like. There may be healthy uses for pornography, but jerking off to it is not one of them.

open your heart like a badass

In its fullest expression, masculine attitude is simultaneously unshakably strong and completely open in love. Culturally these attitudes often seem diametrically opposed. Sadly, there is a dearth of masculine role models who are tough as well as deeply loving. Maybe this is because it’s easier to be strong with your heart closed. And likewise, it’s easier to open your heart emotionally when you’re not required to be strong and present. Observe in yourself where the imbalance lies. Maybe you are tough as nails but have trouble expressing emotions? Or perhaps you’re a sensitive listener but hate confrontations. Pinpoint where you are blocked and find ways to cultivate love and strength into balance.

Go read The Way of the Superior Man by David Deida

use substances with intention

It is easy to forget that alcohol and caffeine are powerful mind-and-body-altering substances. Along with other recreational drugs they have the potential to be fun, useful, and even transformative, but when used unconsciously they can easily become potentially destructive habits that cease to serve you. If the idea of putting off all substances for a week troubles you, then take time to reflect on why you use the drugs you do. When you recognize a destructive habit, commit to doing whatever is required to break free. Always endeavor to respect powerful substances (even legal ones) and use them with good intentions.

comfort is nice,
but meaningless

For years after graduating school I lived in pursuit of comfort, slowly amassing a collection of nice things in a perfect post-college loft apartment. I ate decadently, enjoyed the companionship of a wonderful girlfriend, and didn't work too hard. This was my idea of living well, and while life was certainly pleasurable, most of my days were devoid of deeper meaning or purpose. My memories of that time are vague and fuzzy, like a pleasant dream half remembered upon waking. Pleasurable experiences should be enjoyed, but do not choose easy comforts over the challenge of pursuing your deepest truth.

embrace suffering

Suffering is not inherently a bad thing. In fact, leaning into that which makes you uncomfortable and moving through suffering with awareness, often results in new insights and spiritual growth. There is no need to seek out suffering, but when you are confronted with physical, emotional, or mental discomfort look that experience in the face and see what it has to teach you.

Go read A Path with Heart by Jack Kornfield

about the author

I am just another dude, searching for meaning and truth and purpose in life. Two nights ago I got the urge to write down the bits of wisdom I find most challenging and valuable at this moment in my life. I wanted to document my current attitudes for future reflection (and amusement) as well as offer up what help I could to others. I sincerely hope that these principles may serve you in your efforts to live, love, and learn well. If you have reactions, questions, or hate mail I can be reached at:

michael@wisdomfordudes.com or via @michaelhighland

This project was conceived of and executed during the weekend of hurricane Irene in August 2011.