Men: How to Avoid Becoming a Statistic

Ray Bruce, Ph.D.


As a man, the greatest challenge facing you may be to find a satisfactory answer to the question, "What am I living for?".


Warren Farrell, in his recent book The Myth of Male Power, presents some disturbing realities for men in America today:

  • Male infants are only half as likely as female infants to live to age 85.
  • Men die earlier than women from all fifteen of the leading causes of death.
  • Men make more money but have a lower net worth than women.
  • The frequency of male suicide is increasing while decreasing for females.
  • No government agency spends as much on men's health as on women's health.

What does this mean? Stress and the demand to perform at ever higher levels of achievement are killing men and reducing our quality of life.

Here are five things you can do to increase your chances of living a full life:

1. Drop the facade of strength at all costs.

  • The need to appear "strong" may be the primary cause of your untimely death. Talk with women. Talk with other men. Talk with your doctor, counselor, minister or friend. Be willing to say "I don't know" or "I'm afraid" or "I feel....", or "I can't ....". The idea that you must be strong "at all costs" may be killing you. Let go of the idea you have to be strong for everyone else; it's your life you'll be saving.

2. Be willing to make lasting changes.

  • Men tend to find temporary outlets or relief for stress. We suppress it, have an affair, take a second job, start a new sport, begin more exercise, go to another seminar, smoke more cigarettes, eat more french fries, or drink more beer. The net effect of coping in these ways is an increased incidence of cancer, heart disease and other stress related diseases.

3. Examine all of your options.

  • Generally, men see only two options in life. Work full-time, or die. This lack of options becomes an obligation. Obligations breed resentment. Most of us suppress, internalize or look for temporary relief from the resentments we feel in our life. None of these are long term solutions. Use personal writing or journaling to explore your feelings and options. Then, find someone to talk to. If it doesn't feel safe to talk with your spouse, boss, business associates or friends, talk with your physician, minister, or a counselor. Look at all of your options. It will give you the real power of choice in your life.

4. Lose control.

  • External success and personal responsibility have been the universal measures for men in our society. Always being strong, self-reliant, successful and all-knowing may have been necessary for survival in another place and time, but not now. Losing control can mean seeing new options for your life.

5. Keep physically fit.

  • If you aren't taking care of yourself physically - and most men aren't - begin today to change one thing toward living a healthful lifestyle. A 10-minute walk every day may be the only thing between you and a heart attack or depression. See a doctor if you haven't seen one in over a year. If he suggests changes in your lifestyle, make them. Eat healthfully. Get enough sleep. Exercise in moderation. Don't let yourself be lulled into a false sense of "Everything must be OK, I haven't had a heart attack yet." The body has an extremely high tolerance for stress and many of our temporary relief methods work to hide its symptoms. Tension headaches, dry mouth, pounding pulse, neck and back pain, free-floating anxiety, hives, indigestion, irritability and fatigue are all indicators of stress. Take action before your body says "I've had all I can take" and quits for good.



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