Daily Archives: July 3, 2019

Watch “Princess Diana: Royalty of the peoples’ hearts” on YouTube

Horoscope ♉: 07/03/2019

Horoscope ♉:

Some people have a tendency to be shy. They almost apologize for being alive. For them, it’s essential to keep a low profile. You probably think that you’re like this, but you’re mistaken, Taurus. You need a bit of reassurance. There are a lot of interesting things inside you that need to come out. Believe in yourself.: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.tfd.mobile.TfdSearch

Today’s Holiday: National Tom Sawyer Days

Today’s Holiday:
National Tom Sawyer Days

Sponsored by the Hannibal, Missouri, Jaycees, the National Tom Sawyer Days celebration began in 1956 with a Tom Sawyer Fence Painting Contest and a Tom and Becky competition. Three years later, all of the events relating to the character were combined with the traditional Fourth of July celebration in Hannibal, and Independence Day was officially proclaimed “Tom Sawyer Day.” Today the festival spans five days and includes a number of unique competitions. The Frog Jump Competition is one of the festival’s highlights, drawing up to 300 children and their pet frogs. More…: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.tfd.mobile.TfdSearch

Today’s Birthday: Giuseppe Garibaldi (1807)

Today’s Birthday:
Giuseppe Garibaldi (1807)

Garibaldi is considered an Italian national hero for his role in the Risorgimento, the movement to liberate and unify Italy. In 1848, after having spent time in South America learning guerilla warfare tactics, he returned to Italy to fight for its independence. He fought Austria in Milan and France in Rome. In 1860, he raised an army of 1,000 and attacked Sicily. By the end of his campaign, he commanded 30,000 men, with whom he seized Naples, before handing all of southern Italy over to whom? More…: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.tfd.mobile.TfdSearch

This Day in History: Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass Published (1855)

This Day in History:
Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass Published (1855)

Often considered the most influential volume of poetry in American literature, Whitman’s Leaves of Grass was unconventional in both content and technique and initially scandalized the public with its frank celebration of sexuality. The first edition contained 12 poems, including “Song of Myself,” in which the author proclaims himself the symbolic representative of common people, but Whitman revised and expanded subsequent editions. How many poems are found in his “deathbed edition”? More…: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.tfd.mobile.TfdSearch

Quote of the Day: Charles Dickens

Quote of the Day:
Charles Dickens

Buy an annuity cheap, and make your life interesting to yourself and everybody else that watches the speculation. More…: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.tfd.mobile.TfdSearch

Article of the Day: Coup d’État

Article of the Day:
Coup d’État

A coup d’état, French for “stroke of state,” is a sudden, often violent overthrow of a government. Coups differ from revolutions in that coups are usually carried out by small groups of people in or previously in positions of authority to install their leaders as heads of government, while revolutions are mass uprisings by the people. Coups depend on surprise and speed and rarely change a country’s basic social or economic policies. What current world leaders assumed power through coups? More…: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.tfd.mobile.TfdSearch

Idiom of the Day: cry-baby

Idiom of the Day:

A person who cries or complains a lot, especially for little reason. Watch the video…: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.tfd.mobile.TfdSearch

Word of the Day: contusion

Word of the Day:

Definition: (noun) An injury that doesn’t break the skin but results in some discoloration.

Synonyms: bruise

Usage: The purple and green contusion on my arm looks much worse than it actually feels.: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.tfd.mobile.TfdSearch









The Ultimate Guide to Posture

businessman at podium good posture illustration

Take a peek into most every office in America. What do you see? Workers hunched over their computers. Look at your fellow commuters on the subway. How do they sit? Slumped over their smartphones. Survey the friends and loved ones around you. How do they stand and walk? Likely a little stooped over.

Industrialization brought an increase in sitting to the modern world. And modern technology has given us devices that we hold and view while hunched over. Yet these advancements are ironically devolving our species a bit; part of what makes us human is our ability to walk upright, and yet here we are creeping around where we once stood tall.

To get us humans moving forward again into what Winston Churchill called “the broad sunlit uplands” of a bright and upright future, I’ve spent the last few months researching the benefits and mechanics of good posture, and how to achieve it in an age of schlumpliness.

Today I’m going to share everything I learned. I don’t think you’ll find a more thorough or clear guide to posture on the web, so sit up straight, friends, and read on.

The Benefits of Good Posture

benefits of good posture businessman walking illustration

Improves bodily alignment. When you stand and sit with your body properly aligned, all your organs can function as intended. This includes your stomach, which is why good posture may improve digestion.

Eliminates back and neck pain. When you have proper posture, your bones and spine can easily and efficiently balance and support your body’s weight. When you have improper posture, muscles, tendons, and ligaments have to constantly work to support that same weight. This extra, inefficient effort can lead to back and neck pain as well as tension headaches. Focusing on improving your posture can go a long way to remedying these problems.

Improves breathing. To work efficiently, your lungs need room to expand in your chest. When you’re slumped over, your rib cage collapses a bit, leaving less room for your lungs to open, which in turn causes inefficient breathing.

Improves memory and learning. Recent research has shown there may be a connection between good posture and memory retention when learning new things. Why? It’s theorized that since good posture enhances your breathing, it allows you to take in more oxygen, and when you take in more oxygen, your cognition improves. (Fast fact: your brain uses about 25% of all the oxygen in your body.)

Makes you look taller and slimmer. Some poor posture positions cause your belly to protrude, giving you a “beer belly” profile. And slumping over makes you appear shorter than you are. Standing up straight will correct these issues and improve your appearance.

Makes you look confident and powerful.When we stand in an upright position, people perceive us as having high status. There are a few reasons why:

First, as we discussed in our series on the nature of status, height and physique are two embodied status markers humans use to size each other up. Research shows that taller, fitter-looking men are not only judged to be more attractive by the opposite sex, they also earn more over their lifetime than shorter and overweight men. While you can’t do much about the height that God has given you, you can make the most of what you’ve got by standing up straight with proper posture.

Second, an open, upright stance is simply perceived as more authoritative and dominant. You see this even with animals. When chimps or dogs are submissive, they’ll bow their heads and make themselves look small. Dominant animals, on the other hand, stand up straight and take up more room. An upright posture is a “power pose” that conveys confidence and status to other humans.

Finally, good posture makes your seem more trustworthy. There’s a reason being “upright” and “standing tall” are used to describe someone who’s virtuous and committed to their principles. Those who slump seem to be burdened by some weight — perhaps that of their faults and deceptions. Men who stand straight are thus perceived as open and honest.

Makes you feel confident and powerful. There’s a reason militaries have focused for more than a century on giving their soldiers posture training. They’ve seen that standing straight improves troops’ bearing and morale, and now modern researchers have started to prove this intuitive observation.

Studies have emerged that illuminate the power of the mind/body connection and particularly how physical posture and body language affects how we feel mentally and emotionally. What researchers are finding is not only does having good posture make you seem powerful to others, it makes you feel powerful yourself.

The big reason why? Testosterone.

In Presence, social psychologist Amy Cuddy highlights studies that show how assuming “power poses” — including standing with good, upright posture — increases testosterone and decreases cortisol in the body. On average, assuming a power pose causes a 16% increase in testosterone and an 11% decrease in cortisol within minutes. This increase in T and decrease in stress hormones causes people to feel less anxious and more confident. She and her research team found that after assuming a power pose or just standing with good, upright posture, individuals were more apt be assertive, proactive, and comfortable taking risks.

If you struggle with passivity and a lack of motivation, start focusing on your posture. It’s not a silver bullet, obviously, and it won’t immediately turn you into a confident and assertive He-Man overnight. But it can help, and it’s so easy to do, there’s no reason not to try it.

Improves concentration and mental performance. A study done by Colorado College showed that male students with the best sitting posture scored significantly higher on tests than students who slouched.

The increased concentration and mental performance is likely caused by the increased testosterone and decreased cortisol levels just discussed. As Dr. Tomi Ann Roberts, the lead author of the study, concluded: “an upright posture makes people feel dominant and successful, which in turn improves their ability to relax and focus on problems.”

Improves mood. Not only can standing and sitting with good posture make you feel more confident and powerful, it can also boost your happiness. One study found that when people assumed slouched or slumped postures while asked to recall memories, they were more likely to remember sad and depressive episodes. Individuals in upright positions, on the other hand, were more likely to recall happy and positive memories. If you’re a man who struggles with the black dog, give yourself a leg up on your melancholy, by keeping up your posture.

The Two Myths of Good Posture

So having good posture comes with big benefits. But what does good posture look like?

When most people think of good posture, they’re usually thinking of it in terms of two myths we should get out of the way before we go any further:

Posture Myth #1: Good posture should feel rigid and take a lot of work. When most people hear “good posture,” they imagine a soldier standing at attention with their chest puffed out and their back and shoulders stiff, pulled back, and tensed up. But this is actually bad posture (and despite our perceptions, isn’t the way actual soldiers are taught to stand either). This imaginary soldier stance causes your muscles and tendons to work hard to maintain an unnatural position. If you’ve felt sore after a day of focusing on good posture, chances are it’s because you spent your time trying to pull yourself into this pose.

Good posture should actually feel relaxed and easy. When you have good posture, your bones, not your muscles, keep your body upright and balanced. Even though you’re sitting and standing straighter than you usually do, you shouldn’t feel tense or strained.

Now, if you’ve done a lot of sitting and slumping in your life, getting into good posture position isn’t going to feel effortless at first. You shouldn’t feel strained, but you may feel tight. To ease this tightness, read and implement the tips in the last section of this article.

Posture Myth #2: There’s one ideal posture everyone should be aiming for. Contrary to popular belief, there’s no one exact standard for what constitutes good posture. Everyone’s body is different, so good posture for one man won’t necessarily look the same for another. With that said, there are a few cues we can all use to find our ideal posture, whether sitting or standing.

How to Achieve Good Posture

Your overall goal with posture is to have a “neutral spine.” A neutral spine retains three natural curves: a small hollow at the neck’s base, a small roundness at the middle back, and a small hollow in the lower back. Below we show you what to focus on to get that neutral spine while standing or sitting. First, we give a full explanation of what to do and why; this is followed by a “crib sheet” of posture “cues” to check for throughout the day.

Good Posture While Standing

poor posture when standing illustration diagram

To achieve correct posture while standing, the ears, shoulders, hips, knees, and ankles should align in one straight line. To give you a mental image of what good posture looks like, imagine a plumb line running from your earlobe. If you have correct posture, the line would hang straight to the middle of your anklebone.

A big issue people have with achieving a neutral spine is getting the shoulders to line up where they should be. Most folks with bad posture have shoulders that round forward, giving them that Quasimodo look. If you can’t tell if you’re rounding your shoulders forward, here’s a quick test:

Hang your hands down by your side. If the backs of your hands face forward, then you’ve got rounded shoulders. If your thumbs face forward, then your shoulders should be aligned for good posture.

Where most folks mess up with shoulder alignment and their posture is that they overcompensate, moving their shoulders back and drawing together their shoulder blades to overcome forward shoulder rounding. Maintaining this position requires your back and shoulder muscles to tense up and contract. Again, when you have good posture, your muscles should do as little work as possible to maintain your posture.

If you have a hard time taking that mental picture of good posture and moving your body to fit it, do this wall exercise:

man standing against wall proper standing posture illustration diagram

Stand with head, shoulders, and back against a wall and your heels about 5-6 inches forward. Draw in the lower abdominal muscles, decreasing the arch in your lower back. This is what good posture feels like. Now push away from the wall and try to maintain this upright, vertical alignment.

Cues for Good Posture While Standing

good posture when standing illustration diagram

  1. Weight should feel evenly distributed on both feet while standing. If someone could push you at the sternum and easily make you lose your balance, then your bodyweight isn’t evenly distributed in your feet.
  2. Looking from the side, your ear hole, point of the shoulder, hips, and ankles should line up vertically on top of each other.
  3. Chin should be parallel to the floor.
  4. Looking at yourself from the front, your left and right shoulder should be evenly aligned as should your left and right hipbones.

Good Posture While Sitting

poor posture when sitting illustration diagram

Sitting improperly is the single most detrimental thing to our posture. Instead of using our skeleton to support our weight, we let our chairs do all the work. Unfortunately, this has a tendency to cause us to slump and slouch. Combine that with hunching over your laptop and computer to get closer to the screen, and you’ve got a perfect storm for poor posture.

It’s harder to maintain good posture while sitting than standing, so the first thing you can do to mitigate its ill effects is simply to start sitting less. Take a break every 30 to 45 minutes to get up and move your body. Walk around and do some stretches or even the desk jockey workout. If your office allows it, use a standing desk, keeping in mind that standing in place all day is probably just as bad as sitting all day. Use a standing desk with moderation, alternating between sitting and standing throughout the day.

When you do sit, focus on keeping your ears and shoulders lined up. That will go a long way in avoiding the shoulder slumping that often occurs when working at a desk. Again, you don’t need to strain your shoulders backwards, and you shouldn’t feel like you have to tense up to hold them back; just align them with your ears and keep them relaxed. If you’re having a hard time with that, a neat little hack I found on Breaking Muscle is to get a cheap inflatable travel pillow and put it around your neck while you work. When you start bringing your head forward and your shoulders up, you’ll feel the pillow pressing against your ears, reminding you to move your head and shoulders back to a neutral spine position.

Another thing to focus on while sitting is to make sure your feet rest flat on the floor, with your knees and hips bent 90 degrees. Your elbows should also bend at 90 degrees while typing or resting on the arm rests of your chair. If your knees, hips, and elbows aren’t bent correctly, adjust your chair until they are.

Cues for Good Posture While Sitting

good posture when sitting illustration diagram

  1. Ears are above the points of your shoulders.
  2. Shoulders are back (don’t slump forward!), but nice and relaxed.
  3. Feet flat on the floor with knees, hips, and elbows bent 90 degrees.
  4. Take frequent breaks to stand up and move around.

Avoid the Smartphone Slump

man with bowling ball head looking at smartphone posture illustration
A few weeks ago we published an article on why and how to quit the smartphone habit. If increased focus and human connection weren’t enough of a reason for you to unglue yourself from your phone, here’s another: your smartphone is destroying your posture. Mobility and posture experts have started calling the position we put ourselves in while looking at our phones — crouched over with our hands/phones down at our bellies — “Smartphone Slump.”

The average adult human head weighs about 11 pounds; about the weight of a light bowling ball. When you have good posture, your head lines up on top of your spinal column. The force you exert to keep your head in this neutral position is equal to the weight of your head.

But as you move your head forward, the force needed to keep your head up starts to increase. With just a 15-degree tilt forward, that bowling ball of a head of yours feels like 27 pounds. At 30 degrees, it increases to 40 pounds. When you tilt your head forward 45 degrees, it’s exerting almost 50 lbs of force on your upper body.

When you tilt your head down, instead of your bones doing all the work of holding your head up, your muscles have to start contracting to help get the job done. It starts with the trapezius muscles that run along the length of your neck and on top of your shoulders (this is why your neck gets sore whenever you look down at your phone a lot). When your traps contract like this, it causes your chest to sink and your shoulders to roll forward a bit, giving you a hunchback.

Not only does the Smartphone Slump wreak havoc on your muscles, some cognitive psychologists speculate it may even play a factor in the increasing rate of depression in the West. As mentioned above, slouched positions can make us feel sad and depressed. The Smartphone Slump is the type of slouched, submissive position that can lead to low mood (the fact that you’re slumping over while scrolling through your Instagram feed, and feeling the burden of FOMO, probably doesn’t help either.)

Counteracting Smartphone Slump is easy. Just don’t look down at your phone and instead bring your phone up to eye level. Yes, you’ll look goofy and like you’re constantly taking selfies, but it will keep that big ol’ bowling ball of a head balanced on top of your spine and relieve the muscles in your back, shoulders, and neck.

Corrective Exercises to Counteract Years of Bad Posture

Just focusing on and being cognizant of having good posture can go a long way to improving your posture. But if you’ve spent years in slouched and slumped positions while standing and sitting, you shoulders, traps, and chest muscles are likely super tight. And that tightness will make it hard to stay in a nice, neutral spine position throughout your day.

But there is hope! With time and effort, you can loosen up these slouching muscles so that attaining good posture becomes easier and easier. Here’s how:

Do the De-Quasimodo Routine. Last year, we presented an entire mobility routine aimed at reducing slouching. We called it the “De-Quasimodo Yourself” Routine. It focuses on increasing flexibility in your chest, shoulders, and upper back. It’s a routine you’ll need to do consistently. You can’t just do it once and expect immediate results. But it will enable you to achieve good posture much more easily.

Stand against a wall. If you’re having a hard time maintaining proper posture throughout the day, do the wall exercise mentioned above for a few minutes at a time. Staying in that position can do a lot to open up the muscles in your chest and shoulders.

Static back. This one feels amazing. Lie on the floor and place your legs on top of a bed, chair, or ottoman. Your knees should bend at a 90-degree angle. Get your hips as close to the chair (or whatever you’re using to rest your legs on) as possible. Lay your arms on the ground at your side. Just lie there like this for 5 to 10 minutes.

This position lines up your shoulders with your hips and helps relax the muscles in your lower back (an area that’s often tight due to bad posture). It also helps stretch your thoracic muscles.

Static wall. This is a more intense version of the static back stretch. Instead of resting your legs on the bed, you’re going to put your legs up on a wall. To perform this stretch, lie on the floor with a wall in front of you. Bring your legs up the wall and scoot your butt as close to the wall as possible. You should look like you’re sitting on the wall. Rest your arms out to your side. Hold this position for 5 minutes. You’ll get the same stretch as with the static back, it will just feel more intense.

Standing straight and upright and enjoying your full humanness is within reach — it just takes some intentionality and consistent work. Stand tall and walk on my friends!

in: A Man’s Life, On Manhood, On Virtue, Personal Development

Brett and Kate McKay March 7, 2016 Last updated: May 27, 2018

The 7 Key Mindset Changes for Shifting from Passive Idleness to Active Readiness

vintage soldiers in uniform with guns bayonets calm confident

“Very many factors go to the building of sound morale…but one of the greatest is that men be fully employed at useful and interesting work. Idleness is a dangerous breeding ground.” –Winston Churchill

Last week we explored the fact that idleness kills manliness. Masculinity is an energy — one which seeks to fight, struggle, compete, take risks, and explore — that needs an outlet to be kept strong, vital, and fully tuned up.

In the absence of such an outlet, masculine energy collapses. Men lose their sense of drive, purpose, and self-respect, and their standards, hardihood, and discipline atrophy. A slide into restlessness, vice, malaise, and outright depression is often the result.

In times past, idleness was kept at bay by external forces — danger and threats inherent in a wild environment, universal military conscription, jobs that required physical labor, etc.

Today, there is little outside yourself that will compel you to embrace what Theodore Roosevelt called “the strenuous life.” In the absence of an honor culture, in a time of peace and plenty, there is little social shame in putting forth minimal effort, floating through life, and generally being content with the status quo.

The motivation to be your best, utilize your full potential, and exercise the four tactical virtues of masculinity, must come instead from within.

Below we discuss the 7 key mindset changes that will enable you to move from the path of least resistance to the road less taken — from passive idleness to active readiness.

Always Ready

In Semper Virilis: A Roadmap to Manhood in the 21st Century, I introduced the concept of the “Manhood Reserve.”

The way I imagine the ideal of modern manhood is akin to the function of the National Guard. Guardsmen are citizen-soldiers — they typically have a full-time job, but train to the standard of active duty military members in preparation for being called up to service. Guardsmen represent the country’s first-line of defense and are ready to help and assist in a broad variety of crises — they can be deployed to combat overseas by the federal government or to provide natural disaster relief by the state government. The motto of the Guard is thus “Always Ready, Always There.”

In a similar way, while our current historical moment doesn’t require the vast majority of men to serve full-time in their traditional role as protectors and warriors, that doesn’t mean we should be content to resign ourselves to a life of idleness. We can stay active, by staying ready to handle any exigency. By training ourselves in fitness, discipline, mental toughness, and a wide variety of both hard and soft skills, we can be prepared to be “deployed” to any crisis — whether of the geo-political variety, a natural disaster closer to home, or simply the challenges that regularly crop up in our normal day-to-day lives.

Of course, members of the National Guard are paid and receive benefits in return for their commitment to readiness and service. So why should a rank-and-file citizen be motivated to train himself of his own will and volition?

7 Key Mindset Changes for Shifting from Passive Idleness to Active Readiness

man climbing mountain oxygen mask illustration hard way

1. Realize that potential threats are never as obvious you think they’ll be.

When Kate was home from college the summer after her freshman year, she was shocked one day when she heard the doorbell ring and saw a police officer standing there. Her sister had been in a serious car accident and her family needed to get to the hospital right away. Kate told me that what she remembered distinctly about the aftermath of that moment was how the crisis arrived in her life like a lightning bolt out of the literally blue sky. The day had been like any other — she had just gotten back from a run, the weather was beautiful, the sun was shining. Kate said she had subconsciously expected there would be some kind of lead-up to such a terrible moment, like feelings of foreboding and gloomy weather.

You know, like in the movies.

Unfortunately, in real life, ominous music rarely plays right before the SHTF. Things turn on a dime — one day your life is chugging merrily along, and the next day you lose your job, your dad dies, or a gunman walks into your business and starts shooting up the place.

Sure, when it comes to a large-scale geo-political crisis, there’s usually years of build-up and warning signs. Yet history shows that even when a huge threat is literally right at the door, people tend to be complacent; humans inherently have a hard time believing that life won’t go on exactly as it has in the recent past.

For example, one of the most fascinating things about William Manchester’s trilogy of biographies about Winston Churchill is the way in which he juxtaposes the Nazis’ machinations and military build-up throughout the 30s, with the lackadaisical way the rest of Europe responded.

This incongruity reached its apex during the so-called “Phoney War.” After the Nazis invaded Poland in September 1939, France and Britain declared war on Germany, yet not a whole lot happened (at least on land) in the ensuing 8 months. Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain thought the war would be over by summer, and a former cabinet member declared that the Allies had “found a new way to make war, without sacrificing human lives.” French General André Beaufre felt that the conflict constituted “a giant charade acted out by mutual consent” and would ultimately amount to nothing.

As a result, British and French war preparations were lackluster and half-hearted. Churchill despaired at the slow pace in which munitions factories were being ramped up in both countries, and was dismayed at how the quality of the French army was being “allowed to deteriorate during the winter”:

“there were many tasks that needed doing: training demanded continuous attention; defenses were far from satisfactory or complete — even the Maginot Line lacked many supplementary field works; physical fitness demands exercise. Yet visitors to the French front were often struck by the prevailing atmosphere of calm aloofness, by the seemingly poor quality of the work in hand, by the lack of visible activity of any kind.”

The British military fared a little better in their preparations, yet the citizenry as a whole existed in what Churchill called a “twilight mood.” As Manchester details, though the Germans were using the lull in action to gear up for full-on war, the public continued to live in a state of unreality, their minds turned to the same distractions and trivialities that had diverted their attention in peace:

“The British, possessing on the whole a better record on European battlefields, ought to have been more realistic. They weren’t. Instead, they were complacent. The Isle looked fine; ergo, the Isle was fine. In the autumn, the Times had proclaimed Britain’s ‘grim determination’ to see it all through, but nine months after the outbreak, English life had returned to normal. Idle men dozed on Hyde Park ‘deck chairs’; the sheep lazed away the days in London’s park enclosures, and admiring crowds gathered by the nearby duck ponds…

Nightlife was as innocent and diverting as ever; John Gielgud was King Lear; Emlyn Williams’s Light of Heart played to busy houses; elsewhere in the West End the most popular dance tunes were the American ‘Deep Purple’ and ‘Somewhere over the Rainbow.’ Clearly Londoners were less interested in the war than in the rituals of peace. The Times, ever the vigilant recorder of multifarious ornithological sightings, reported the return of swallows, cuckoos, and even nightingales.

Churchill tried to wake the nation. Speaking that March on the BBC, HMG’s first lord of the Admiralty warned his countrymen that ‘more than a million German soldiers, including all their active and armored divisions, are drawn up ready to attack, on a few hours’ notice, all along the frontiers of Luxembourg, of Belgium and of Holland. At any moment these neutral countries may be subjected to an avalanche of steel and fire, and the decision rests in the hands of a haunted, morbid being who, to their eternal shame, the German people have worshipped as a god.’ He observed that in Britain ‘there are thoughtless dilettanti or purblind worldlings who sometimes ask us: ‘What is it that Britain and France are fighting for?’ To this I answer: ‘If we left off fighting you would soon find out.’”

I bring up the example of WWII, not because I think there’s another Hitler currently waiting in the wings, but to demonstrate the difficulty of knowing when there is! People generally believe that were there an existential threat right on their doorstep, they’d definitely recognize it, and they’d definitely get themselves ready to fight. But history shows that threats often come without warning, and that even when there’s ample prelude, most folks will simply shrug and take no real action until it’s literally busting down the door.

2. Preparation need not be paranoia.

These days, when you hear “preparation” you might think “prepper.” And when you think about preppers, you might think about extreme survivalists who’ve got a few years’ worth of food, an armory of weapons, and an underground bunker. This association is unfortunate, as the man who fancies himself as the intelligent, rational type automatically thinks, “Oh, that’s definitely not me.”

But preparation doesn’t have to equal paranoia. It’s simply a desire to be ready, come what may. As the authors of 1915’s Self-Helps for the Citizen Soldier write, preparation is the logical response to inherent risk:

“Preparedness is only another name for precaution, provision — the taking of measures beforehand, making arrangements in advance — to meet a possible need.

Preparedness in general is one of the most natural, common and necessary acts of life. Even wild animals provide for the winter — prepare against want.

We provide for old age by saving in earlier life — we prepare against helplessness. By means of insurance and investment, we provide for our families — we prepare against death.

We provide against fire by maintaining a fire department, and against crime, by maintaining a police department — we prepare to meet both with proper measures. We provide for sickness by preparing hospitals, and so on, indefinitely, the thread of preparedness runs through every serious act of our lives…

No one questions the wisdom of preparing in advance to meet a possible need. If it is likely to occur, the only natural, common-sense thing to do is to prepare for it.

The only point about which there can be any question is the existence of the need — whether that for which preparedness should be made is probable.

So is it probable that you might be called up to war, or have to administer first aid, or survive in the wilderness with only a knife, or any of the other dire exigencies you might prepare yourself for? Well, no. It could happen, but it’s not likely. So if the probability of your having to deal with some big crisis is so small, is it then a waste of time to spend your precious time preparing for such things?

To answer yes would be to assume that the only benefit for training for a large threat is being prepared for that particular threat in and of itself. Yet as we will see, preparing yourself for a big crisis makes you prepared for little ordinary challenges as well (and makes you a happier, more well-rounded man to boot). While you may never have to fight off an armed attacker or save someone from drowning in a river, there’s a 100% probability that every day you’re going to need the qualities of courage, hardihood, resilience, and so on to deal with life’s little annoyances, lead your family, and excel in your career. Thus, wanting such training, and desiring such qualities, is the most rational thing is the world.

Because if there’s one thing you should be paranoid about, it’s living a life in which you never develop your full capacities as a man.

3. Preparation in one area can be deployed in other areas.

Training in the “martial” virtues carries over into competence in peacetime pursuits.

A perfect example of this is what you see going on in veterans organizations like Team Rubicon and The Mission Continues. These groups take former members of the military who have been well trained by the government to kill enemies overseas and put them to work doing disaster relief or starting service projects in their communities. While they’re not toting guns and taking out bad guys, these vets are able to deploy many of the skills and traits they acquired during combat like discipline, improvisation, teamwork, and planning, and use them to help their fellow man. The rigorous training in fitness and discipline members of Team Rubicon received in the military helps them handle the often physically and mentally demanding work that happens during disaster recovery. And the mission planning skills they learned from patrols and firefights allows them to carry out their work in an efficient and effective way.

Readiness shouldn’t be thought of merely as a defensive stance, either, but as an offensive one as well. You don’t prepare yourself only for emergencies, but also for opportunities — which are just as hard to see coming as threats! If you’re not ready to seize an opportunity for growth the moment it materializes, it often never comes your way again.

When Theodore Roosevelt was president, the only thing besides a portrait he hung in his executive office in the White House was the poem “Opportunity” by John James Ingalls:

Master of human destinies am I
Fame, love and fortune on my footsteps wait.
Cities and fields I walk; I penetrate
Deserts and seas remote, and passing by
Hovel and mart and palace, soon or late
I knock unbidden once at every gate;
If sleeping, wake; if feasting, rise before
I turn away. It is the hour of fate.
And they who follow me reach every state
Mortals desire, and conquer every foe
Save death: But those who doubt or hesitate,
Condemned to failure, penury and woe,
Seek me in vain and uselessly implore—
I answer not, and I return no more.

4. Preparation is war.

Part of why it’s hard to get psyched up for preparing for things that may or may not happen, is that preparation doesn’t seem very sexy. We want to be in on the action, right in the fray of the frontlines.

While it’s true that preparation for action may never be as satisfying as action itself, by flipping your mindset on it, it can be more meaningful than you might think.

William James argued that “the intensely sharp preparation for war by the nations is the real war…and that the battles are only a sort of public verification of the mastery gained during the ‘peace’-interval.”

Or as I learned playing high school football, games aren’t won on the field on Friday nights, but during practice on Monday afternoons.

Preparation is the battle. And once you grasp that, you’ll feel more driven to put in the time it takes to gain mastery in mental and physical skills.

Best of all, once you start training and practicing in anything, you come to find there’s great enjoyment in it — that sometimes planning for an experience is actually even better then the experience itself. As the outdoorsman Horace Kephart wrote in The Book of Camping and Woodcraft (1910):

“Field equipment is a most excellent hobby to amuse one during the shut-in season. I know nothing else that so restores the buoyant optimism of youth as overhauling one’s kit and planning trips for the next vacation. Solomon himself knew the heart of man no better than that fine old sportsman who said to me ‘It isn’t the fellow who’s catching lots of fish and shooting plenty of game that’s having the good time: it’s the chap who’s getting ready to do it.’”

5. Busyness is not the opposite of idleness.

“He has nothing to prevent him but too much idleness, which, I have observed fills up a man’s time much more completely and leaves him less his own master, than any sort of employment whatsoever.” –Edmund Burke

In 1916, after the forces of Pancho Villa had made incursions onto American soil, President Woodrow Wilson mobilized the National Guard to ward off further aggression from Mexico. One-hundred thousand men were called up and placed in mobilization camps along the border, but given no clear mission beyond keeping watch. Morale quickly sank, and many of the men began frequenting local saloons and brothels, complaining about the conditions, and even deserting. The Secretary of War asked a colleague, Raymond F. Fosdick, to inspect the situation in the camps. Fosdick found that the reason the men were deteriorating was due to idleness:

“There was nowhere for the men to go and forget the weariness, the homesickness, the loneliness, that prevailed…There was nowhere to go and get away even for a short time from the monotony of drill and the almost unbearable heat. There was no organized entertainment, no decent diversion.”

Fosdick saw that there were vices aplenty, but nothing to “substitute for the things we want to drive out.”

In studying how British and Canadian troops maintained morale, Fosdick discovered that instituting an athletics program into the military greatly improved morale, and recommended the US do likewise.

Thus, in readying American troops for their involvement in WWI, the Army installed an athletic director to every training camp, and got the troops playing games and sports every day.

A newspaper sports editor reported on the fruits of the program:

“Never before in the history of this country have so large a number of men engaged in athletics. Every kind of sport is involved — football, baseball, basketball, volleyball, push ball, medicine ball, soccer, track and field athletics, and particularly boxing. Everybody’s boxing, even the mountaineers and the boys from the farm who never saw a pair of boxing gloves in their lives. Men are learning to get bumped and not mind it. They eat it up.”

In additions to traditional sports, the men played more loosely organized games like “swat tag,” “prisoner’s base,” and “duck-on-the-rock.”

The athletics program was designed to offer the men a break from the tedium of their usual rounds of drills, calisthenics, and inspection, and build their confidence, competitive spirit, resilience, alertness, leadership, and teamwork. And the program went with the men overseas; “athletic kits” stocked with boxing equipment, footballs, soccer balls, baseballs, etc., shipped out with every unit sent to Europe.

A report done after the war on the program’s success found that “It was demonstrated during the war that nothing was so valuable as competitive games in keeping alive the interest of the men and in preventing discontent and homesickness during a long training period or after a protracted tour of duty in the front lines.”

Basically, what the military found is that simply keeping men busy is not enough to maintain their esprit de corps. The monotony of digging ditches and drilling, and the stress of combat, kept some parts of their minds/bodies active, but let others go fallow. The men needed not just activity, but a variety of activity.

All men can take a key lesson here. Plenty of guys aren’t idle in the obvious sense; they’re quite busy with jobs, kids, school, etc. They may even feel overextended and tired from all they have to do. Yet despite all this activity, they still feel restless, depressed, and strangely stagnant.

That’s because while certain sides of their character are overtaxed, other sides — often those related to the core of their masculinity — are entirely unexercised. They’re super busy in some areas, but entirely idle in others.

Sure you’re logging big hours as a corporate warrior and as a dad and husband, but when’s the last time you felt the spirit of competition drive you to push harder? When’s the last time you moved together physically with a group of other men? When’s the last time you experienced flow, or felt your limits, or threw a punch, or took a punch?

Just because you’re busy, doesn’t mean you aren’t idle.

6. Keep moving; whatever you don’t use, you lose.

We often feel like we can leave parts of ourselves dormant, and they’ll just stay as they are — waiting for us to start developing them again. But the truth is that all the components of our physical and mental make-up operate by the “use it or lose it” principle. All of life involves swimming against the current of deterioration — if you’re not constantly putting in the effort to advance, you’re getting swept back.

Or as my high school football coach always told us: “If you’re not getting better today, you’re getting worse.”

There are some species of shark that have to continually swim forward in order to get oxygen to breathe; they take it from the water that flows into their mouths and over their gills. Even when scientists held them stationary, and allowed a current to push the water into their mouths, the sharks breathed more efficiently when moving. In other words, it required less effort for them to breathe while moving, than while at rest. And when there’s less oxygen in the water available, rather than conserving energy to compensate, these sharks counterintuitively open their mouths wider and move faster to keep from drowning.

That’s a pretty perfect metaphor for manhood.

7. Duty over self.

In the last several years, the Secret Service has been plagued by embarrassing missteps and dangerous lapses, including, but not limited to: two drunk senior agents crashing their government car into a security gate by the White House, a dozen agents bringing prostitutes back to their hotel room during a summit of world leaders in Colombia, agents getting drunk and passing out in a hotel room hallway in advance of the president’s trip to the Netherlands, and allowing a man with a knife to jump the White House fence and make it all the way to the doors of the East Room.

The job of a Secret Service agent is many ways the pinnacle test of maintaining readiness in the face of boredom and seeming safety. 99.9% of the time, nothing is going to happen on your watch, and yet you have to face every moment fully vigilant and prepared for the .1%.

There’s no way to hack your way to the motivation for maintaining this kind of readiness and vigilance. It can’t be legislated by Congress or enforced by your superiors. It simply comes down to sheer discipline — knowing you have a job to do, and doing your duty. Indeed, some insiders say that what ails the formerly straight arrow Secret Service is a diminished esprit de corps — a sense of being dedicated to a code of conduct that should be followed no matter what, regardless of feelings or circumstances. The Secret Service can’t wholly create this kind of honor culturefrom the top down; it has to be born organically from the men in the ranks.

So too, no one can force you to live or even believe in the ancient code of manhood — that men should be ready to serve as warriors and the protectors of country, kith, and kin whenever needed. The choice to live a life of honor will have to come from within, and be re-committed to each and every day.

Training for Readiness

The obvious cure for idleness is to start doing stuff. But what kind of stuff should you do?

Any mental/physical/hard/soft skill that develops qualities like discipline, focus, courage, hardihood, improvisation, leadership, teamwork, and resilience; strengthens your mind, body, and soul; and better prepares you to handle a wide variety of challenges and seize unforeseen opportunities, is a worthwhile pursuit. Those which most directly align with the four tactical virtues of masculinity — strength, courage, honor, mastery — should be particularly sought. Being able to mark off all the skills on this list would be go a long way to achieving active readiness, and becoming a more confident, competent, and satisfied man.

You can pursue such a path as an individual, but the development of manhood is ideally accomplished in groups of like-minded men who push each other and keep each other accountable. I know of some churches and high school/college clubs who have started such programs for themselves. I also know of groups of friends who simply decided to start intentionally getting together for the purpose of fraternal bonding and personal improvement.

Of course, in all such situations, having a structured “curriculum” for such a program — with set goals, incentives for maintaining motivation, accountability trackers, etc. — makes things a lot easier than trying to create and carry out a men’s society of mental/physical/tactical development all on your own.

That’s why we’re currently developing the Semper Virilis program. If you’d like to be the first to know details and when it launches, and for a chance at being a beta tester, drop your email in the box below.

And stay ready, and manly.

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10 Exercises That Will Help to Improve Your Posture


10 Exercises That Will Help to Improve Your Posture

“Stop slouching.” Sound familiar? Your mother was right, slouching, or poor posture not only looks bad, but can lead to back pain and spinal problems later in life.

Strengthen the core.Strengthening of the core is the best way to improve your posture and correct (or prevent) back problems. Your core muscles surround and support your spine and are responsible for standing upright and rotation of your trunk at the waist. Core muscles include your abdominals (abs), the muscles of your lower back that connect your spine to your pelvis, your obliques (under your “love handles”), your diaphragm, and the muscles of your pelvis (hips).

Train in 3 dimensions. Training and strengthening these core muscles from ALL directions will provide support your spine from all directions while strengthening your hips and pelvis which also support posture. Training your abs without training your lower back leads to imbalances that impact your posture, either causing your to lean forward or curve back. By training ALL the muscles of your core in ALL directions, you’ll provide a balanced, solid trunk that supports good posture and reduces back pain or problems.

good vs bad posture infographic

Image Source: Lumo Body Tech

Before you begin your posture exercises, start with these stretches:


1. Shoulder release

This simple movement releases (stretches and prepares) the rotator cuff or shoulder joints.

How to do: Find a sturdy straight backed chair and sit to the back of it with the feet flat on the floor. Relax the neck and allow the head to lean forward as you inhale and lift the shoulders toward the ears, hold briefly and relax. Repeat 5 – 10 times.

Shoulder release stretch

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Anterior Tilt Pelvis Exercises


Anterior Tilt Pelvis Exercises

Anterior Tilt Pelvis Exercises

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