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In their search for good friends, one often hears people say, “I like so-and-so all right, but…”

“I like lifting weights with him, but we can’t really talk about deep stuff.” “He’s really fun to hit the town with, but terribly flaky — he never answers my texts and sometimes doesn’t even show up.” “I’ve known him so long that we’re completely comfortable together, but we honestly don’t have much in common.”

Those who lament these “could-be-a-good-friend-but’s,” are disappointed they cannot find a friend who possesses all the qualities they’d like in a buddy.

This isn’t a bad desire; every once in a blue moon, you do meet someone with whom you share a cosmically strong connection; they become a best friend (or spouse).

With most friends, however, you won’t be so perfectly compatible. But that doesn’t mean you should write them off. You just need a change in perspective.

Rather than looking at your relationships through an all-or-nothing lens, it’s useful to view them in the light of what writer Gelett Burgess called “Vocational Friendship”: Rather than focusing on the qualities someone lacks, you appreciate them for the “specialty” in which they excel.

You enjoy your lifting buddy for lifting, without needing to talk Plato between sets. You don’t invite your flaky friend to a show, but you do call him up when you’re having a party. You appreciate your longstanding, if boring pal, for those times when it’s just nice to have some low-key company.

People don’t change much, and don’t exist to serve your needs. So, Burgess advised, rather than trying in frustration to make each friend a kind of Swiss army knife that works in every area of your life, approach people as “simpler tools,” enjoyed for the qualities you like most and the thing they do best.

The post Sunday Firesides: How Not to Be Disappointed With Your Friends appeared first on The Art of Manliness.

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The power of a good haircut to transform a guy’s appearance and attractiveness is vastly underrated. I think we’ve all seen a case where someone decided to try a different style, and as a result, practically looked like a new, significantly more handsome man.

But finding that kind of transformative haircut isn’t a matter of chance, as haircuts aren’t one-size-fits-all deals. You know this if you’ve ever seen a haircut that looked good on another dude, and asked your barber to give you the same style, only to find out it looked terrible on you.

Different hairstyles are better suited for different face shapes. What looks good on Brad Pitt could make you look like a grade-A, poindexter dud. 

But how do you figure out your face shape, and thus the haircut that complements it best?

It’s easier than you think, and to help guide us through the process, I talked to master barber Thad Forrester, owner of Hudson / Hawk Barber & Shop.

The 6 Common Face Shapes of Men

Thad breaks down most faces into six shapes: oval, square, rectangle, round, diamond, and triangle. 

Here’s a breakdown of the characteristics of each:

Oval Face Shape

Face length is greater than the width of the cheekbones, and forehead is wider than the jawline. The angle of the jaw is rounded rather than sharp. Imagine an upside-down egg.

Square Face Shape

All measurements are somewhat similar in ratio. The angle of the jaw is sharp rather than rounded. This is the most classically masculine face shape.

Rectangle/Oblong Face Shape

A rectangle face shape is like an oval/square shape combo. Your face length is long (like an oval), but your forehead, cheekbones, and jawline are similar in size (like a square).

Round Face Shape

If your cheekbones and face length have a similar measurement, then you likely have a round face. Cheekbone measurement is also larger than the forehead and jawline measurements, which are about the same. The angle of the jaw is soft rather than angular. 

Diamond Face Shape

A long face with wide cheekbones and a small jawline. Chin is pointy. 

Triangle Face Shape

Triangle face shapes may have different kinds of chins, but they share the characteristics of having a wide, prominent jawline (as measured across the corners/hinges of the jaw). The second-largest measurement is the cheekbones, followed by the forehead. 

Which Face Shape Are You?

So those are the primary face shapes. How do you figure out which one you have?

Well, figuring out your face shape can be tricky. You’ve probably never thought about your face having a distinct shape, so when you try to categorize it, you’ll be doing a lot of hemming and hawing: “Well, I guess it’s round, but if I angle my head this way it looks square. Wait. Now it’s a diamond.”

And as Thad told me, a lot of guys that come in to see him have a tendency to think they have the masculine face shape of Brad Pitt. They’ll show Thad a photo of Brad on their phone and say, “I think I have a similar head shape as Pitt. Can you give me the same haircut that he has?” 

Thad has to nicely tell these guys, “No, no you don’t. You look nothing like him actually.”

So how do you figure out what shape your face and head are?

For starters, you can measure it at four key points:

  1. Jawline: Measure horizontally from point to point at the corners/hinges of the jaw.
  2. Cheekbones: Measure across your cheekbones, starting and ending at the pointiest part below the outer corner of each eye.
  3. Forehead: Measure across your face from the peak of one eyebrow arch to the peak of the opposite arch.
  4. Face Length: Measure from the center of your hairline to the tip of your chin.

Measure those points with a tape measure, write them down, think about the ratios between them, and then go back up to the last section to figure out which face shape you have.

If measuring your face feels weirdly tedious, Thad recommends a more straightforward way to figure out your face shape: outline it on a mirror. 

Grab a dry erase marker and stand in front of the mirror. Pull your hair back with one hand if it’s long. Outline your head. Make sure to keep your head as still as possible. 

Take a step back and look at it. 

“Your outline isn’t going to look like a perfect triangle or diamond,” says Thad. “But look at key points like your cheekbones, jawline, and forehead and how they connect with one another. If you think you see a triangle, draw a triangle within your outline to see if it matches up. If not, try again.”

How to Choose the Right Haircut for Your Face Shape Two General Guidelines

1. Pick a haircut that will make your face look oval. Regardless of your particular face shape, Thad recommends picking a hairstyle that makes your head look more like an oval: “The oval face shape is sort of the ideal head shape because it’s symmetrical and well-proportioned. So, for example, if you have a rounder head, you’ll want to pick a haircut that will make your face look longer to get a more oval-looking face. If you have a triangle-shaped head, you’ll want a haircut that gives you more width at your forehead so it looks less pointy, and more rounded at the top.”

2. Take your beard into account. “Your beard can also add length or width to your face, so you need to consider that when selecting a hairstyle,” Thad advises. “For example, if you have a long rectangle face, having a haircut with height plus a long beard is going to make your head look even longer, like Beaker from the Muppets. You don’t want that.” Meep meep, indeed. 

But beards can also help contour your face into that ideal oval shape, Thad told me. “Let’s say you have a round face, with a not-so-prominent chin. A longer beard and a haircut with some height can help lengthen your face to make it look more oval.”

With those two general recommendations in mind, let’s dig into specific haircut recommendations for different face shapes. 

Oval

“Guys with oval face shapes look good with any type of hair and beard style,” says Thad. “You can wear a big pompadour, you can wear a nice crop with a fade, you can do an undercut. You can wear a short beard, long beard, or middle beard because the proportions of that head shape allow for it.” 

So if you’re a guy with an oval-shaped face, feel free to experiment with different hairstyles. 

While the oval face shape allows for a wide variety of styles, Thad did say there are some things you want to avoid: “Don’t pick a style with bangs or heavy fringe. They’ll make your oval face look more round.”

Square

Men with square-shaped heads should go with haircuts with short, tight sides. “Any bulk on the side is just going to make your head look wider,” explains Thad. A standard side part haircut, kept tight on the sides, works here, though Thad particularly recommends going with a haircut that gives some height to your face to lengthen it and give it a more oval look. Haircuts that provide texture on the top like French crops and quiffs will do that. A pompadour with close sides will give you some height as well. 

If you want to really embrace the masculine angles that a square shape gives your face, Thad recommends rocking a buzz cut; “Think Jason Statham. That guy has a really square face, and he makes that buzz cut look good.”

Round

“Men with round faces want to pick a hairstyle that gives some length to their face,” says Thad. “You also want to avoid bulk on the sides, as that just makes your head look rounder. So keep things tight.”

French crops, pompadours, quiffs, brush backs, and comb-over styles will give you height. And if you keep the sides short, you can also create the illusion of angles in your face, giving you a more masculine appearance. 

“Don’t forget beards if you have a round face,” says Thad. A longer beard will elongate your face and make it look like you have a chin. “Avoid really short beards or stubble if you have a round face,” he adds. “It just highlights the fact that you don’t have a chin.”

Rectangle/Oblong

“With a rectangle face you’ve got to be careful with a few things because the face is longer than it is wide,” says Thad. “You want to avoid hairstyles and beard styles that make your head look longer and skinnier,” i.e., you want to avoid the Beaker effect.

To that end, Thad recommends avoiding hairstyles that leave a lot of length on top since that elongates your head, as well as haircuts that are really short on the sides since that makes your head look skinnier. Basically, you want to shoot for something that’s not too long on the top and not too short on the sides. Textured haircuts with medium length on the top and the sides will be your best bet. A classic side part works well for guys with rectangular faces, as long as you keep the length on the sides longer. Fringes will add some width to your face, so consider that as well. 

If you want to grow a beard, keep it short. A long beard will only make your face look skinnier. 

Diamond

Men with a diamond-shaped face have wide cheekbones, but narrow jaw and brow lines. To make your face more oval looking, Thad recommends going with a haircut that will add width to your forehead. “A guy with a diamond-shaped face kind of has a pointy, narrow forehead head. To reduce that, go with a haircut that adds some bulk there, like a fringe cut or a textured crop.” 

One thing to avoid is a haircut with short sides. “That will just accentuate the narrowness of your forehead,” says Thad. 

Thad also likes recommending beards to men with diamond-shaped faces. “A nice full beard can expand the skinny jawline on a diamond-shaped face,” Thad told me. “Combine that with a haircut that adds some width to your forehead, and your diamond-shaped face is starting to look more like that ideal oval.”

Triangle

Triangular faces start with a wide jawline, narrow a bit at the cheekbones, and then narrow even more at the forehead. “You want to add volume and length on the sides to reduce the pointy look of a triangle-shaped face,” says Thad. French crops, textured quiffs, and fringes can do that. Guys with triangle-shaped faces will look good with longer, fuller ‘dos. Think Wayne Coyne from the Flaming Lips. That mad scientist, rock ‘n roll look. 

Thad recommends that men with triangle-shaped faces avoid beards. “A beard will just make your already wide jaw look wider and make your forehead look even more narrow and pointy,” he says. If you want some facial hair, just go with some stubble.  

In determining your face shape, and the best haircut for it, you can ask your barber/stylist for advice. Unfortunately though, not all of them are actually very adept at making this determination. Better to figure out a plan based on the information above, and go in with a specific request at the ready. 

__________________

Thanks to Thad from Hudson / Hawk Barber & Shop (locations in Springfield, Columbia, and Kansas City, MO, and Bentonville, AR) for his tips.

The post The Best Haircut for Your Face Shape appeared first on The Art of Manliness.

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If you’re like most people, including myself up until recently, when it comes time to grill some meat, you sprinkle on the seasoning and salt right before you throw it on the fire. And it turns out well. No harm, no foul, and some tasty meat. 

But lately I’ve adopted a tip that has totally changed my grilling game — and in fact how I prepare meat for any sort of cooking — for the better.

Here goes: Apply salt well before cooking, up to a full day in fact, and you’ll end up with the juiciest, most balanced cut of meat you’ve ever tasted. 

This method is called “dry brining,” and it has a number of fans. AoM’s resident chef, Matt Moore, told me he “absolutely believes in the dry brine.”  

Another proponent is Samin Nosrat, author of Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat (and host of the superb Netflix series of the same name), which is how I was introduced to the idea.

But dry brining is actually somewhat of a controversial practice. Those against it say it dries out the meat too much, extracting the moisture and therefore making it tougher. Salt, after all, is how meat used to be preserved sans refrigeration, and it’s still a big component of making jerky today. 

But the effect of salt on meat varies with time. Loading meat with heavier doses of salt and allowing it to sit for long periods will cure the meat and indeed draw out its moisture. 

But as Nosrat writes, when meat is brined with less salt, for less time, you actually get the opposite effect: “salt will dissolve protein strands into a gel, allowing them to absorb and retain water better as they cook.” 

Nosrat gets more into this chemical process in her book, and while a little science-y, it’s worth understanding: 

Think of a protein strand as a loose coil with water molecules bound to its outside surface. When an unseasoned protein is heated, it denatures: the coil unravels, releasing water molecules out of the protein matrix, leaving the meat dry and tough if overcooked. By disrupting the protein structure, salt prevents the coil from densely coagulating, or clumping, when heated, so more of the water molecules remain bound. The piece of meat remains moister, and you have a greater margin of error for overcooking. [emphasis mine]

The takeaway here is that pre-salting not only keeps meat juicer, it makes it harder for you to overcook it! That alone makes it a winner, especially when working with chicken and pork. 

One final benefit: Dry brining gives the meat a better distribution of flavor. When you season just the top of a piece of meat immediately before cooking, you often end up with an outer layer that has good flavor, but then an inner layer that seems bland by comparison. Salting ahead of time, however, ensures the entire cut gets evenly flavored. Over time, the grains of salt dissolve and actually penetrate through into the meat; because of the principle of diffusion — a slow process — the salt will seek chemical balance within the flesh, which creates an even distribution.

Salting your meat ahead of time is just too easy to not do. I get that sometimes you’re stopping at the store after work for some meat and immediately plopping it onto the grill when you get home. That’s just fine. But when you have the meat ahead of time, always salt and let sit.

How to Dry Brine Your Meat 

When salting meat for cooking, any time is better than none, and more is better than some. Aim to season meat the day before cooking when possible. —Nosrat

You can dry brine just about any kind of meat: poultry (including whole), pork (including larger cuts like the shoulder; don’t do ham, though, as it’s already well salted), beef, and even seafood (should only be salted for about 15 minutes though). If using ground meats — say for burgers or meatballs — only apply after preparing (salt the exterior of the burgers/meatballs rather than the entirety of the meat) and only for a couple hours; ground flesh just responds differently to salting since it has more surface area.    

As mentioned above, you can use this method when preparing meat for any sort of cooking, be it steaks on the grill, pork butt for slow-cooking, chicken breast slices for pan-fried fajitas, whole birds for oven roasting, etc. You wouldn’t, however, combine a dry brine with a marinade. Most marinades are vinegar-based and do different things to the meat than what you’re intending to do with the salt. As for other dry seasonings: let the salt work on its own first, then apply your other steak or fajita seasonings just prior to cooking. With those other spices, you’re mostly looking to add flavor to the exterior anyway. 

Here’s how you do it: 

1. Apply 1/2-3/4 tsp of salt per pound of meat, spreading it evenly over the surface — top, bottom, and sides. It’s not a crazy amount of salt, but most likely more than what you’d normally add. Note that salt will penetrate skin; so go ahead and apply directly to the exterior of poultry that has the skin still on. (As an added bonus, the salt will dry the skin, making it extra crispy and delicious.)

2. Stick in the fridge — no need to cover — for anywhere from 2-24 hours (whatever your schedule and fridge space allows for). Note that large pieces like whole turkeys, chickens, pork butts, etc. can be salted up to about 48 hours in advance with no ill effects.

3. Remove meat from fridge and cook! 

The post The Best Way to Salt Meat appeared first on The Art of Manliness.

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In 2017, a 50-year-old father from South Africa was on a surfing trip in the Indian Ocean. One night, after getting food poisoning, he got up to get some fresh air outside, got dizzy, and fell overboard. Since the boat was underway, and it was the middle of the night, no one noticed that he’d fallen off. After treading water, battling sharks, and taking jellyfish stings for nearly 30 hours, he was rescued.

For anyone that enjoys water activities, treading water is an essential skill to have. It’s all too easy to get caught in a rip current, fall off a moving boat, or get left behind. Especially when it comes to survival, the key for treading water is efficiency. Most people can tread water for a few minutes, but could you do it for an hour? Two hours?  

The US Navy recommends a modified frog kick to make the best use of your energy for long-lasting treading. Learn how to perform this simple technique and practice your treading ability the next time you’re in a body of water. It could be the difference between life and death.

Like this illustrated guide? Then you’re going to love our book The Illustrated Art of Manliness! Pick up a copy on Amazon.

Illustrated by Ted Slampyak

The post How to Tread Water Efficiently appeared first on The Art of Manliness.

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For nearly 400 years, the Comanche tribe controlled the southern plains of America. Even as Europeans arrived on the scene with guns and metal armor, the Comanches held them off with nothing but horses, arrows, lances, and buffalo hide shields. In the 18th century, the Comanches stopped the Spanish from driving north from Mexico and halted French expansion westward from Louisiana. In the 19th century, they stymied the development of the new country by engaging in a 40-year war with the Texas Rangers and the U.S. military. It wasn’t until the latter part of that century that the Comanches finally laid down their arms.

How did they create a resistance so fierce and long lasting?

My guest today explores that question in his book Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History. His name is Sam Gwynne, and we begin our discussion by explaining where the Comanches were from originally and how their introduction to the horse radically changed their culture and kickstarted their precipitous rise to power. Sam then explains how the Comanches shifted from a hunting culture to a warrior culture and how their warrior culture was very similar to that of the ancient Spartans. We then discuss the event that began the decline of the Comanches: the kidnapping of a Texan girl named Cynthia Ann Parker. Sam explains how she went on to become the mother of the last great war chief of the Comanches, Quanah, why Quanah ultimately decided to surrender to the military, and the interesting path his life took afterward.

This is a fascinating story about an oft-overlooked part of American history.

Show Highlights
  • Why does the history of the Comanches get looked over in history classes?
  • The origins of the Comanche people 
  • What the introduction of the horse did for the Comanches 
  • The transition from hunter culture to warrior culture
  • The unique style of Comanche warfare, and their culture of brutal torture
  • How were Comanches organized? Why couldn’t white people figure it out?
  • The Fort Parker raid and the capture of Cynthia Ann Parker
  • The incredible discovery of Cynthia, and why she refused to re-assimilate 
  • How the Texas Rangers became so successful 
  • What led Quanah Parker to ultimately surrender?
  • How did Parker end up as an American celebrity?
  • What Sam ultimately took away from the writing and researching of this book
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The post Podcast #526: The Rise and Fall of the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History appeared first on The Art of Manliness.

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Teasing has almost entirely negative connotations these days. It is the word evoked by sullen-faced parents to describe a misfortune befallen their child: “Jimmy is being teased at school.” It is largely associated with bullying. It is thought of as a form of expression that divides.

Yet teasing has in fact long functioned to bring people together — especially in honor cultures, and especially among men. It is an act full of paradoxes: at its best, it both stings, and strengthens; affirms hierarchy, and levels it; promotes conformity, and autonomy; it makes a man sensitive to shame, but not too sensitive. Indeed, as Carlin Barton writes in Roman Honor: “teasing and mild shaming are among the most important socializing mechanisms of society.”

Below we’ll unpack how teasing produces these benefits, as well as the necessary conditions for teasing to function as a heathy form of “aggressive nurturing” that builds bonds, rather than a destructive force that weakens them.

Teasing as a Prompt for Personal Improvement

Just as we do teasing these days, we tend to think of shame in a wholly negative way, believing that all forms of it are bad, and that no one should ever be shamed.

Yet shame can be an incredibly potent prompt towards positive behavior.

While it is unhealthy to feel shame because of things one cannot help, or are undeserving of a shameful response, it is healthy to feel a prick of abashment in falling short of the honorable standards of society, your family, and yourself.

The trick with shame is the dosage: too much shame becomes toxic, debilitates, while a little shame spurs to action.

Healthy teasing delivers shame in the right, mild dose.

The word teasing comes from older words for pulling apart strands — which is why we still use the phrase “tease out.” Healthy vocalized teasing surfaces truths about someone’s foibles, but does so in a playful, good-natured way. Delivered right, a man is not crushed by it, does not feel the need to become angrily defensive; he laughs in the moment, but still hears the underlying message in the joke. Because he doesn’t feel attacked directly, he has the space to process that message, and decide how to improve the area in which he was ribbed.

Teasing as Training in Self-Control

Against a large part of the frictions and irritations and clashing of temperaments incident to participation in a community life, a certain toughening of the mental hide is a better protection than the law could ever be. –Calvert Magruder, legal scholar

It is often thought the male code of emotional stoicism — of keeping a stiff upper lip — developed for unknown, arbitrary reasons. But it directly arose from men’s universal, timeless role as protectors. In the heat of battle, breaking down, falling apart — giving way to either paralyzing panic or heedless rage — would sabotage the outcome of the fight, and endanger the lives of one’s comrades.

For this reason, young men in every culture, in every time, were given challenges that developed and tested their self-control. Teasing constituted one of these “trials.” For example, much ribbing took place as part of the ancient Spartans’ practice of syssitia — nightly dinners; the older warriors would pointedly kid each other, and call young men over to the table to endure some teasing from the group.

The idea behind this tradition was simple: if you couldn’t endure a little razzing from your friends, how could you maintain your composure in the face of humiliations from your enemies? Teasing from their comrades desensitized and inured young men to the taunts and insults of strangers and foes.

Teasing as a Solidifier of Group Bonds 

Good teasing was like being naked together in the baths or the gym — it expressed a willingness to be bound to one another. —Carlin Barton 

We typically think of teasing as a one-way interaction: the teaser is the actor; the teased is a passive recipient (or even victim). And this is in fact the dynamic that exists in the case of unhealthy teasing.

But healthy teasing operates within a two-way, reciprocal relationship which builds mutual trust.

Teasing acts like a form of mild hazing (yet another word for which we moderns have trouble imagining positive connotations). It often reinforces an explicit or implicit pecking order. Members of a group come to trust someone more when he acknowledges this hierarchy, and demonstrates his commitment to the group and loyalty to their standards, by accepting teasing, and feeling shame for the failures such ribbing indirectly point to.

The teased shows that he trusts other members of the group, by exposing his weaknesses in the first place. He trusts that the others may play with these vulnerabilities, but will not mishandle them in a way that seriously wounds — that they will joke, but not take their jokes too far. The teaser proves himself worthy of this trust by demonstrating this restraint; “I could destroy you with my words — I know which buttons to press — but I won’t.”

As part of this mutual dance, Barton observes, the teased gave a part of himself, while the teaser held that part as a kind of loan; the teaser took part of someone’s humanness as “a trust that they needed to treasure and guard and give back.” In this way, “Allowing someone to tease you was like opening your house to a guest; if the teaser accepted your hospitality as a gift, then you, the person teased, were the richer for it.”

Richer, because healthy teasing always requires a phase of reintegration. That is, teasing temporarily separates the teased from the group, but this slight separation is followed by behaviors on the part of the group which reincorporate him back. The message is: “We’re aware of your flaws, but don’t mind. We recognize your foibles, but like you anyway. You may have fallen short, but you’re still one of us.”

Healthy teasing then, rather than being ostracizing in nature, makes one feel both more known, and more accepted. The teased experience the liberation of having one’s shameful weaknesses seen, yet indulged. What can sound like an insult, really says, “Hey, you’re all right.”

Teasing is not only a two-way street for building mutual trust, but one in which the direction the “traffic” moves isn’t fixed.

To Barton’s observation that “teasing and mild shaming are among the most important socializing mechanisms of society,” is added the important caveat: “provided that trust is there and that the teaser is prepared to exchange roles with the teased.” Sometimes it’s someone else who messes up and gets razzed, and sometimes it’s you; and you can’t be willing to dish it, but not take it. Even in hierarchical groups, it’s a sign of mutual trust, and deference on the part of superiors, when teasing can be given both up and down; the officer can tease his men, and they can tease him back; the teacher can tease his students, and they can tease him in return.

Those who have missed the fundamental reciprocity of teasing — including the giving of seemingly insulting nicknames — have often found its central place in male socialization to be bewildering, if not toxically boorish. Yet amidst the trading of good-natured barbs, real camaraderie is born.

As Barton puts it, “When reassurance and reintegration are part of the process, teasing and mild shaming are not only forms of communication, they are forms of communion.”

Teasing as a Strengthener of Autonomy

Modern Westerners are afraid of the emotions of shame and intolerant of expressing them; as a result, the fear of shame intensifies the experience of shame. Modern Westerners become ashamed of feeling ashamed and thus are swept into a spiral of shame. —Carlin Barton

The ironic thing about learning to take teasing is that while it signals one’s longing to be accepted and willingness to conform to a group, it also strengthens one’s ability to deviate from collective opinion.

As mentioned above, teasing is training in managing shame, so that it isn’t experienced as overwhelming.

Those who cannot handle even mild shaming, who do experience it as overwhelming, are more willing to do whatever it takes to avoid that feeling — including conforming at any cost. They can readily be, as Barton puts it, “shamed into acting shamefully.”

Ironically, those most prone to acute shame, and thus to conformity, are also the least able to recognize this fact, as they cannot handle the shame of being overly sensitive to shame.

This was demonstrated in the famous experiments of Solomon Asch, in which participants in a group were asked to judge the length of certain lines, and were influenced to pick the wrong answer by study confederates, who were planted in the group and intentionally gave incorrect answers. Yet, Barton writes, when the study’s actual participants were told they had been swayed by the confederates, they tended to respond with vehement denial:

Asch emphasized . . . that those who had most frequently succumbed to the pressure to blend invisibly into the group were precisely the ones who, when confronted with the purpose of the test, were likely to deny or radically underestimate the extent of their collaboration and exaggerate their independence. In other words, those excessively sensitive to shame were, paradoxically, those most likely to deny that they felt ashamed at all and to insist on their autonomy. . . . Those who could not bear the shame of exclusion also could not bear the shame of inadequacy implied by their collusion. It was clear both from Asch’s experiment and the subsequent interviews with the subjects that those who most feared and rejected the emotion of shame were least capable of acting in accordance with their own will.

Being able to tolerate and feel comfortable with a little shame actually leads to greater autonomy. And this inoculation effect is created well through learning how to take a little teasing.

Why We Flee Teasing

One who cannot trust cannot endure shame. —Carlin Barton

If teasing can have such healthy, pro-social effects, why do we so flee it these days?

Most fundamentally, it is because we lack the mutual trust that healthy teasing requires.

We do not feel able to presume upon the goodwill of others.

The cycle of mistrust begins with the fact that we try to cover up our weaknesses as much as possible. We mediate our lives through social media, in which we only present carefully curated versions of ourselves. We have less of the kind of intimate, face-to-face relationships where we can let our guard down and show all the sides of ourselves. Because we keep our flaws hidden, we feel more psychic stress, more shame around them.

Thus, if someone does tease us, they’re more likely than not to be in our out-group, to not have earned the privilege of joking about our foibles, nor possess the deference to pull back instead of going for the jugular; we thus unsurprisingly experience these barbs as genuine insults, rather than affectionate ribbing. It’s drive-by teasing, that isn’t followed by affectionate “reassurance and reintegration.” Hence, our association of teasing with asocial bullying.

Even if it’s an intimate of ours doing the teasing, our weaknesses are so weighted with shame, so foreign to the light of day, that their surfacing feels excessively painful. We cringe to hear our terrible secrets exposed, even in a light-hearted way. Rather than taking the kidding as a sign of trust, we interpret it as a sign of animosity. We are wounded, defensive, angry.

At the same time, the reciprocity of teasing is thwarted, because if we tease this teaser in return, they react the very same way!

In place of the elastic bonds of mutual trust, we have the brittle ones of mutual suspicion. Rather than swapping playful admonishments, we each set a stony, stoic face to one another: “I don’t care what anyone thinks of me.”

Yet while this distance, these ego protections, guard us against the potential sting of teasing, the refining scorch of shame, they deny us the relief that comes from dropping the pretense of perfection, the release of having one’s frailties spoken out loud — only to be followed by mirthful laughter, and an arm around the shoulder.

The post Why Teasing Is Good for Society, and for the Soul appeared first on The Art of Manliness.

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Oftentimes, our ancient brains don’t seem well equipped to deal with the speed and complexities of modernity. The landscape bombards us with perceived threats and problems, and we have trouble not ruminating on them. To navigate this environment, while maintaining our composure and sanity, we need to strengthen our resistance to stress. 

My guest today has written a guidebook to how that’s done. Her name is Dr. Mithu Storoni, and she’s a medical doctor who also holds a PhD in Neuro-ophthalmology, as well as the author of Stress-Proof: The Scientific Solution to Protect Your Brain and Body — and Be More Resilient Every Day. Today on the show we discuss the difference between acute stress and chronic stress and why acute stress can actually be good for you, while chronic stress can change your brain so that you get more stressed out when you experience stress. We discuss how both cortisol and inflammation can actually be beneficial in the right amounts, and how to get them in the right doses — including the particular type of exercise that will best help you recover from stress,  and the role diet and even Tetris can play in managing it. We end our conversation discussing how making time for hobbies can prevent you from falling into the stress trap.

Show Highlights
  • What is stress?
  • What’s the typical approach to stress management?
  • The difference between acute stress and chronic stress
  • How chronic stress lowers our ability to deal with more stress 
  • How stress impacts the physical structure of your brain 
  • The dangers of ruminating on things 
  • Learning how to regulate your emotions 
  • Why Tetris can help your stress (and why it’s sometimes good to distract yourself) 
  • Inflammation — its bad rap, but also its occasional benefits
  • The importance of gut bacteria to your stress and overall health 
  • Getting out of a stress-induced slump 
  • The power of agency 
Resources/People/Articles Mentioned in Podcast Connect With Mithu

Mithu’s website

Mithu on Twitter

Mithu on Instagram

Listen to the Podcast! (And don’t forget to leave us a review!)

Listen to the episode on a separate page.

Download this episode.

Subscribe to the podcast in the media player of your choice.

Recorded on ClearCast.io

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Read the Transcript

Coming soon!

The post Podcast #525: How to Stress Proof Your Body and Brain appeared first on The Art of Manliness.

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More often than not, whenever I go to print something at my house, the next sound I hear is beep-beep-beep.

It’s the sound of the print job being unable to go through because the paper drawer on the printer was left open.

No matter how many times I’ve told our kids that if you’re going to take paper out of the printer to use for coloring, you need to close the drawer when you’re done, they still fail to follow through on these easy instructions.

This fact used to frustrate the tar out of me.

Then one day, for reasons unknown, I suddenly saw the open printer drawer not as an impertinent annoyance, but as the inescapable evidence of a simple fact: I have kids.   

I have kids, and kids inevitably come with some vexations. Yet they’re exactly what I want in my life, and a source of inexpressible joy. Because I have this privilege . . . I also have to accept its aggravations.

Oftentimes, we think we can get the upsides of life without any downsides; joy, without difficulties, fun without friction. And yet every privilege is inextricably connected to some responsibility, and comes with inconvenience.

Finding your wife’s dirty dishes on the counter for the hundredth time is a drag . . . but man, how wonderful that you have a wife. The commute to work kind of sucks . . . but how awesome that you have a job. Getting ready for a big trip is a hassle . . . but how exciting that you have somewhere interesting to go.

Next time you hear a series of literal or metaphorical beeps, a reminder of some aggravating inconvenience, just remember the privilege it’s tied to. “Oh, hey, I have kids. Cool.”

The post Sunday Firesides: I Have Kids appeared first on The Art of Manliness.

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Is there an old pair of khaki pants with frayed bottoms, stains, and/or worn-out knees sitting in your closet? 

Before you throw those pants away or give them to Goodwill, consider giving them a second chance at life by turning them into shorts. 

Don’t think you’re up for it, because it requires making a clean hem, and you don’t know how to sew?

Never fear, hem tape is here. By just ironing this stuff on, you can create shorts with a nice clean hem line — no sewing skills required. 

In about 15 minutes and for a handful of cents, you can breathe new life into an old garment and add a new pair of shorts to your wardrobe.

Below I’ll show you how it’s done.

Materials

  • Pair of old pants
  • Hem tape (you can buy this online, or at any number of retail stores)
  • Scissors
  • Ruler
  • Pencil
Turning Pants Into Shorts Step 1: Determine desired length of shorts.

Put on your pants and mark with a pencil where you want your short line to hit on your thigh. You may need some help from someone else to make this line. It’s kind of tricky to do by yourself while you have your pants on.

Step 2: Mark a cut line about 1.5″ beneath your original mark.

Grab your ruler and measure about 1.5″ beneath the original mark you made. Make a mark. This is where you’ll actually cut your pants. That 1.5″ extra fabric will be used to make a hem with the hem tape.

Step 3: Cut your pant legs off.

Take your ruler and draw a line across your pant leg at your cut mark. But here’s the trick: Don’t draw the line straight across the pant leg. Instead, angle it between 10 degrees and 15 degrees upwards towards the inseam of your pants. It might be counterintuitive, but this slant will actually make your hem straight.

Once you have your cut line marked off, cut off the legs of your pants.

Tada! You now have a pair of shorts. You could stop here if you wanted, but the hem of your shorts will start fraying. That’s fine if you’re going for the Jimmy Buffet “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere” look. But if you want a clean hem on your shorts, you’ll need to proceed to step 4.

Step 4: Create hem.

So you want to make a clean hem on your new pair of shorts. Now you need to decide what you want the hem to look like. You could have it so the fold is on the outside of your shorts. That’ll give ’em a 1990s Bugle Boy vibe. Nothing wrong with that. Apparently, the early 1990s are making a comeback amongst the youngsters. Or you can have it so the fold is on the inside of your shorts. In this case, it will look like a regular pair of shorts that you’ll typically find on the rack at a store.

I went with the fold on the inside. 

To do it that way, turn your shorts completely inside out. It will make creating the hem much easier. 

Heat up the iron to the hottest setting. 

Iron along the hem on one side of a leg. You want that fabric nice and hot for the hem tape. 

Place the hem tape along the hem that you just ironed and press down. It will stick to your shorts. 

Fold the hem up until you see the original mark you made for the length of the shorts. Then iron this folded part of the hem. Pay attention to the areas near the inseam and outseam. Those parts tend to get bunched up.

Turn the pants over and repeat the process on the other side. Iron hem, apply tape, fold up hem, iron hem. 

Repeat on the other leg. 

Boom! Pair of shorts from an old pair of pants.

Jorts? Jorts!

Now if you’re feeling particularly bold, you can make a pair of 1980s dad jorts (jean shorts) from an old pair of jeans. Let them fray. No nicely done hem required. Tube socks and raglan tee obligatory. Great for mowing the grass or lifting weights. Hell yeah, brother. 

The post How to Make Shorts From Pants (No Sewing Required!) appeared first on The Art of Manliness.

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In the kitchen, fresh coconuts can add great flavor to one’s culinary pursuits. In the wild, they’re one of nature’s most perfect survival foods. Coconut meat is a great source of fat, carbohydrates, and fiber. And there’s a good reason coconut water is so readily available at stores these days: it’s loaded with minerals, electrolytes, natural sugars, and vitamins. Even when you’re done eating and drinking everything the coconut has to offer, the shell is useful as a bowl or cup. But you won’t reap any of these benefits if you don’t know how to open one up.  

Cracking open a coconut takes some practice, but there are several tricks to make it a bit easier. Firstly, you’ll have to get through the husk. Store-bought coconuts have this removed already, but in the wild and in a survival situation, you’ll have to de-husk it yourself. You’ll do this by first nestling the coconut between some rocks for stability, with its pointier end facing up. Then, find the largest rock you can hoist, lift it 4-5 feet above the coconut, and drop/throw it onto the coconut. After a few drops, the husk’s fibers will begin to soften and splits will open up in it. Flip the coconut over so that the blunter end is facing up, give it another hit or two with the rock, and you should be able to peel away the husk (which doubles as great tinder for making a fire!).  

Before getting started with cracking the shell and getting to the goods inside, brush up on your coconut anatomy. At the top of the coconut is the “face”: three holes grouped tightly together that resemble eyes and a mouth. These holes represent weak points that you can exploit to poke a hole in the coconut and extract the water. If you imagine the face is the north pole, and the opposite side is the south pole, it’s easy to picture the coconut’s equator. The equator is another weak point, and you can use it to crack up a coconut like a pro, with or without tools. 

Like this illustrated guide? Then you’re going to love our book The Illustrated Art of Manliness! Pick up a copy on Amazon.

Illustrated by Ted Slampyak

The post How to Open a Coconut (With or Without Tools) appeared first on The Art of Manliness.

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