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I feel this! Not only what makes a good man but what makes a good human. It is how I try to live my life. I feel that modern medicine has Marcus' attitude when it comes to women's Healthcare.

I spent years with debilitating symptoms due to an unknown infection. I can't tell you how many doctors told me it was in my head... that being more careful of my thoughts combined with a "chill pill" would fix me.

Turned out what I needed was antibiotics, and alot of them. I was on death's door when I finally received them. There is so little action with this idea of how to meditate your way to happiness and good health, but that is not enough. Life requires a balance between the internal and external words like you say: Thought, emotion AND action.

Loved this piece! ❤️ THANK YOU!

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Wow, your reflection here is beautiful and moving Isabella. Really. Thank you for reading and for sharing your story. Reading your words remind me why I write, why stories and fears are worth sharing.

Balance is exactly in. Finding the middle way.

THANK YOU! This comment made my day (:

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YAY! 😊

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Jun 1Liked by Tommy Dixon

In my view you are walking the path of the ideal man by developing your powers as a storyteller, which involves the diligent and disciplined review of the relationships, models, places, and principles that bring you to life. It's a gift to others and a mark of integrity to conduct that review in public.

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Thank you Rick, for all the kindness. Your words really hit home for me today. You're so right about it being a path. The way of the ideal man isn't a destination, there's no arrival, but it's a trail, perhaps an essence you learn to track. It's not a static, fixed thing.

Appreciate you showing up for me every week and helping me understand the power of stories through your gifts. Never gets old (:

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...man i massaged, bathed, swaddled and let go of my anger this week so it was fun going in here and thinking about what use i might have for him, in the past and the future...my ideal man is honest, in service to himself and others, practiced in empowerment and teaching, and leads by making leaders, not leading them...they also have to have sweet looking hats...crucial...

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Haha "massaged, bathed, swaddled" got a good smile out of me. Also personifying your anger as "him" is interesting and (I've found) psychologically accurate. The Ancient Greeks did the same thing. In war, you weren't angry, but Ares inhabited you, killed some people, then left.

And I love you outlining part of your ideal here, brother. It's beautiful.

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...inspired man...this hit some of my writing for this and/or next week...

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Jun 4Liked by Tommy Dixon

I love the part about “leads by making leaders”. So often I feel modern leadership is selfish and ego driven.

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Jun 1Liked by Tommy Dixon

Really great essay, Tommy. Love to see you push back against what is so widely accepted without question (stoicism and meditations) with such a strong, well thought out argument while experimenting with a slightly different writing style for you.

You make so many great points here. Many of which I agree with and will draw inspiration from. Anyone who aspires to be a better version of themselves, a better man, a better woman, or a better whatever other role they play, is admirable.

But I want to push back and challenge you on this: “Admiration is a mirror. It reflects the edges of my ideal. It tells me what I lack, what I need, who I want to become. Hopefully, who I will become.”

Admiration may have been a mirror up until a few hundred years ago. But now there are millions of people worth admiring, maybe more. Now, I believe, unleashed admiration is a trap. A path that will lead to endless feelings of inadequacy and not-enoughness.

Musashi said to look for nothing outside of yourself. He believed that everything you need is within. You know what it means to be a good man. And you don’t need anything outside of yourself—books, role models, or lectures—to become him.

Love, Jack.

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Thanks for your thought and time here Jack. It takes a lot of insight to reflect on what resonated but even more insight to disagree, in a thoughtful way you did.

I agree with you on the dark side of admiration, the feeling we want to be someone other than we are. I know and have experienced how it leads to inadequacy and not-enoughness.

Perhaps what I mean is that we naturally admire people, without trying, and by zooming out and becoming curious about why we admire those people, we gain deeper insight into ourselves: who we want to become, what traits we want to adopt.

But I think I agree that everything you need is within, often if you just remove the noise that blocks you from it. You need to hear the track first to follow it.

Thanks for your time and smarts here Jack. This is the type of feedback that makes me a better thinker.

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Jun 1Liked by Tommy Dixon

P.S. You are a very good man. And it’s a pleasure to watch you evolve more and more into the man you see yourself becoming every day.

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Jun 1·edited Jun 1Liked by Tommy Dixon

Extremely thoughtful as always, Tommy. I especially appreciate this piece because it’s a necessary reminder. It definitely seems as if there are two opposite camps that people are flooding to: acting purely on emotions (avoiding everything that could be “triggering,” etc.) and going overly stoic. In modern times, I imagine the latter camp is growing in popularity as an overcorrection to the former.

I like to think of it from the lens of our nature; there’s a reason we evolved to have both emotions and self-control. They both have utility.

Thanks for the reminder.

P.S. to put it eloquently: killing some suitors would be dope as shit

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Ha thank you Ben. I always light up when I see your name in the comments.

I think you're exactly right on the balance, correcting for your weaknesses. The truth is always in the middle way, like Aristotle said. If you were a hyper-aggressive prison inmate you probably could benefit from some Marcus Aurelius chill vibes in your life. But from my point in life, I need to sway the other way. Any strength in excess becomes a weakness.

Thank you for your sharp thought here. Hope travels are well!

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I really appreciate this essay. It reminds me of a conversation that I had with a friend that grappled with his emotions. I told him about my dad. Who most would consider to be a man’s man. But whom I’ve also known to be a rather sensitive fellow. Not just as his daughter. But he is a lover of people. Rather verbal. I honestly never asked my dad to what extent he grappled with owning his emotions. From stories that I’ve heard from his siblings, I’ve gathered that growing up, he expressed his feelings one way or another. He may not have always been rewarded for it, but it doesn’t appear that he was ever shamed for it.

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Thank you for reading and sharing this beautiful reflection Johanna. It sounds like your dad was quite the admirable person. I love "a lover of people". If I were to put something on my gravestone, I think that's what I would want.

Definitely it seems like part of being a dad or parent in general is hiding the grappling that you do from your kids. I just haven't decided if that's strength or weakness (but I think it's strength).

Really appreciate your words here. Made my day (:

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Yes I’m very thankful for my dad. I think he is astute in emotional intelligence. In my view, I think he’s just been honest and if that includes showing vulnerability, then so be it. He seems to be comfortable articulating when he cares. He shows up for the people he loves and he asks for what he needs/wants. When I visited him a couple of weeks ago, he asked if I could stay longer and just plainly stated he likes having me and all of his kids around. And that’s par for the course. His dad was tougher on him to a point that he tried running away when he was younger. My uncle, his twin, told me this story. He went with my dad because he didn’t want him to be by himself. They ran into their eldest brother. My dad told him that he felt their dad didn’t love him. The elder brother took them back home and told their father what my dad said and my grandfather lightened up on him. My father revered all of his siblings. His eldest brother passed when I was 12 and my dad preached his funeral. After the burial, I watched my father wail like a baby. Prior to that day, he mostly cried behind closed doors with my mother. I have other stories. That’s why when my friend in my original comment mention grappling with being a “man” but very emotional, my dad came to mind because I have an example that two are not mutually exclusive.

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Jun 1·edited Jun 1Liked by Tommy Dixon

Here I am, another woman here commenting on your post about what it means to be a good man… And that is interesting somehow. I really found this useful and thought provoking. Thank you for the time you spent crafting it. And we women aren’t exactly invited to be angry either. But recently I saw a video on anger that really resonated. It relates to what you wrote about the true definition of meek, which was more like anger under control. Now, people are told to vent it, express it, hit a pillow and do something to get it out. I am less convinced this is the way. I notice now that when I find some whisper of anger arising…irritation, wanting to squirm while thinking about something…I feel it in my body. I feel the energy more rather than justifying whatever thoughts I am having and feeding the fire of them, which feels like trying to avoid something. It seems to me martial arts involve a certain centered-ness as well, which allows movement and choice. I would like to explore that moment of Jesus and the money changers. And hold it up against Jesus on the cross speaking of forgiveness. I very much feel both are true and incredibly powerful.

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Thank you Terra, for reading and writing such an insight dense and profound reflection here. I'm a bit of a loss for words.

I agree with you totally on how venting is not the way to go. Anger, like any emotion, often just wants our attention, just wants to be noticed, felt. It's so interesting how you've been able to pinpoint where you feel the energy arising in your body. Sounds like a form of mindfulness, in some sense.

And I love how you connected the money changers with the cross. It's one I've been thinking on a lot as well.

I appreciate your time here. Thank you again & hope you have a lovely week (:

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Well, that is a huge compliment. A writer at a loss for words. Thank you for your response. And I am really very interested in those two Jesus moments. If you find more comes to you, I would like to hear or read about it. I spoke to a friend in a somatic experiencing training recently. She said most people find it hard to touch grief. Anger was tougher for me. But healthy anger is a whole different realm. Kind of like Fruit Loops or nourishing food. It is super interesting to me. At one point I was given a sense that that Jesus moment on the cross was what I want to learn to do. There is great wisdom, kindness, and compassion in it. There is a form of empathy. But the world definitely needs Jesus in the temple putting things right. When and how to do that in a way that is actually cleansing and ultimately loving is an art I feel like I understand very little of. But I was asking my friend about those two scenes today as the topic remains alive for me. She didn’t have an answer other than the temple moment came from fierce love (I think those were her words). No need to respond. I have done it again and written a lot. Maybe it is a kind of prayer.

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Thank you for your thoughts Tommy. In this day and age, what it means to be a man has been heavily distorted especially by toxic men. This is such a refreshing view. Thank you once again.

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Thank you Bansi, for reading and the kind words (:

I'm so happy the piece resonated and felt refreshing - that's what I was aiming for.

I hope you have a lovely week.

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Such good thoughts. Thanks for sharing.

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Jun 3·edited Jun 3Author

Thank you Heather, for reading and the kind words (:

It's so good to hear from you.

I hope you have a lovely week.

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Beautifully written! Thank you!

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Thank you Diantha (: really appreciate you reading and the kind words. Means a lot!

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Purposeful and controlled aggression can be a powerful tool. Determining when its required can be a fine line, however. I remember completely losing my shit on an adult in my life when I was 19, slapped his arm away, yelled hurtful words. And it was in a public setting. In the moment I felt my actions were warranted, but I still go back and forth between regret and embarrassment. Ruminating on it now still gets my blood going. Your essays always provide some new ideas for me. I appreciate that. Also enjoyed your note about keeping a list of "role models", important to use as a guide. I too keep a list of "anti-heroes", or people/ traits/lifestyles I don't want to become/have.

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Thank you for reading Peter and the sharp comment here. I always get excited when I see your name in the comments.

You're so right on the fine line. I've also had moments of emotional, inappropriate outbursts and felt nothing but that mix of embarrassment and regret you describe. The key, the middle way, I think is being slow to anger. Not blowing up, not never being angry, but being slow to anger.

I get a lot of direction from my list of role models. A vision board on Canva is also a helpful tool, but I don't only include role models but other images that hint at my ideal life.

Thanks again for your note here. Hope you have a blessed week (:

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So you're saying that Marcus Aurelius was the first fake guru? Hahaha jk. This was a fantastic read, Tommy. I'll start building my admiration collage, and start working on becoming more like the men on it.

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Hahaha love it Sebastián.

I get a lot of direction from my list of role models. I usually forget but sometimes when faced with a decision or tough situation I think: "What would X do?" and try to draw on them for inspiration. A vision board on Canva is also a helpful tool, but I don't only include role models but other images that hint at my ideal life.

I'm glad you got some inspiration from the piece. Thank you for reading & taking the time to leave your thoughts here. I appreciate you (:

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Jun 2Liked by Tommy Dixon

I'm quite similar to you. For most of college, I prided myself in my calm demeanor and for refusing to engage in discourse. I was a big Marcus Aurelius fan as well. As I've matured and unpacked certain experiences in my life, I've come to see indifference as super lame. To be human and unique is to live your emotions. Now, I hope for enough clarity and knowledge to trust my emotions to guide me through life.

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Wow, thank you for reading Raymond and really the insightful note you left here.

I loved: "I've come to see indifference as super lame". That's such a good line and captures the essence of what I was going for quite well. More and more, perhaps similar to you, I'm learning to see emotions as a tool, a compass as you suggested.

I appreciate your time and thought here man. Means a lot (:

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Jun 2Liked by Tommy Dixon

One thing I will say about Meditations is that it was never intended to be published. They were his private notes, written mostly for himself. I don’t believe he ever claimed to be the greatest man, but the love for stoicism and Aurelius as a figure have made him into something he’s not. People love to have a hero. — ultimately everything should be taken with a grain of salt.

Also, the Romans were a completely different society used to barbarism and therefore are almost incomparable with men of today. Our western society compared to theirs is pampered, to say the least.

In terms of a maxim for manhood I’ve always liked the term coined by Elliot Hulse, ‘tender aggression.’ — meaning one can be strong whilst being vulnerable.

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That's such a good insight Ilan. You're right he never intended to share them and most were reminders to himself about how he wants to be in the world. That's one reason for the repetition in the text that a lot of people mistakenly criticize. There's repetition because he needed to continually remind himself of how we wanted to be, every time he inevitably fell away. As we all do.

And anytime we put someone unfairly on a pedestal of perfection, they're bound to fall from our graces.

I love the term ‘tender aggression.’ That's one I'll be keeping in my back pocket.

Thank you man for the very thoughtful note. These types of conversations really help me refine and improve my thinking. Means a lot.

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Jun 2Liked by Tommy Dixon

I was an avid admirer of Marcus and his stoic approach as well, but over time I've begun to realize the limitations that come with his beliefs in the context of guiding communities through hardships. In a sense, it can become almost neglectful to approach certain matters through this passive lense of self-preservation and indifference. Eventually, you'll have to utilize the very things you limit within yourself to make for greater change.

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That's such a good insight Ibra. I especially loved: "it can become almost neglectful to approach certain matters through this passive lens of self-preservation and indifference". Such a good line and captures the essence of what I was going for quite well.

There's definitely a danger anytime we adopt any one approach as our only approach. The stoic viewpoint can be a helpful tool in the toolkit but perhaps not your only tool.

Thank you man for the very thoughtful note. These types of conversations really help me refine and improve my thinking. Means a lot (:

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Jun 3Liked by Tommy Dixon

Thank you for the amazing piece. You hit the head on the nail with some of the limitations of Stoicism. That ability to have multiple tools is certainly one that can use more emphasis, especially in the field of practical philosophy🙏🏾

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Well put.

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Jun 2Liked by Tommy Dixon

My therapist always says “anger is a gift” because it shows us what we’re not gonna put up with anymore. She tells me to get more angry and flip some tables. 😂

The best man I know is my husband. I admire his patience most (since it’s something I’d like to have). Because he’s never quick to react to something he can see all sides of the equation like some kind of monk. I think this patience also results in a quiet confidence that many people look up to.

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That's so good Brenna. Anger shows us what we want to protect, really, in its pure form, anger shows us what we love. If we never get angry about anything, it means we don't love anything.

Also, wow. "The best man I know is my husband." That made me smile to see.

Thank you for reading & taking the time to leave your thoughts here. I appreciate you (:

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I was thinking the same thing! What a simple but powerful line.

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Definitely. He sounds like a very Zen character, and kids need to around men such as your husband.

A role model that they can aspire to emulate as they grow. God bless you both.

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