The world continues to twist and turn, sending us individually and collectively reeling. As it does so, it can be more and more difficult to get our bearings.
When everything seems to be changing around us, we may feel a sense of confusion about how we fit in or why we’re even here.
This lack of clarity around our purpose may give us a sense of uncertainty, feelings of helplessness, or even a creeping suspicion that we’re worthless.
While this couldn’t be further from the truth, sometimes we need our environment to reflect back to us that we matter.
The good news is when life doesn’t offer us a clear purpose, we can create one.
Sometimes we need support to get started, and that’s OK. Simply by reaching out and connecting to others, we can likely see our purpose start to unfold right in front of our eyes.
One way to do this is by joining a men’s group.
There’s a common and elegant pattern that happens when a man wakes up from his suffering and chooses to take action by joining a group.
When men start to get it together (which often simply means asking for help), they naturally begin to orient toward showing up for others, bringing them connection, meaning, and a reason to get out of bed every day.
I’ve seen a clear pattern emerge in the half-dozen long-term men’s groups that I’ve been a part of.
It goes something like this:
A man gets a wake-up call
Some area in life is breaking down: a marriage, a career, his body, or his friendships.
He realizes his coping mechanisms, habits, mindset, and state of consciousness are just not doing the trick anymore.
He shows up
He stumbles into a men’s group, often encouraged by a loved one.
Getting help and opening up are generally very uncomfortable, but the relief and results are often fast and noticeable. He starts to settle down.
He does his work
Over time, he gets his sh*t together.
Mental, emotional, and often physical health improve and normalize. Maybe a professional move is made that’s a better fit.
Relationships improve, and there’s more stability in life all around. This can take months or years.
He recognizes he’s OK
This is a great moment in a man’s life.
A sense of agency and belonging starts to emerge. He naturally starts to wonder what’s next. Being a part of the group might start to feel less impactful.
He realizes how much he has to offer others
He gets feedback that he’s able to truly be there for the other men in his group, and that extends into his life at home and at work.
The impact and meaning of this realization are often massive, and they begin a new paradigm for why he shows up to his men’s group and how he lives his life.
He aligns his life in a new way
This doesn’t mean he quits his job and donates all of his stuff to charity. It means there’s a new fuel source at the center of his decisions and actions.
A fire has been lit, and a sense of being part of something larger permeates his life.
What this pattern highlights is something that I believe in with my whole being: When men are OK, or even just close to OK, our natural tendency is to support and serve others. This sense of service seems to bring with it a deeper sense of meaning.
This is a very good thing.
I don’t see this process as anything other than evolutionary. Though we may forget or feel differently in our current world, we humans need each other.
All of us.
The survival of our species has always depended on our togetherness.
A natural part of that togetherness is giving and receiving support. Being there for each other. Lifting each other up.
For men, this is a critical message today.
We’re certainly making headway with the old stereotypes and stigmas, but the stoic-and-isolated-man archetype still lingers heavily in our minds, hearts, and habits.
Current mental health stats clarify the realities of the disconnection and isolation many men accept as their reality.
One of the most powerful levers men can pull to stay mentally healthy is simply having a sense of purpose and meaning in their lives.
Men need to feel necessary.
This isn’t just folklore. A
When you have something to live for, you have something to live for.
But when it comes to purpose, men often get stuck in a trap of grandiosity and comparison. Men will feel they need some heroic and dramatic life purpose that impresses people and gives them value.
The reality is that the purpose that most of us need is simple but profound.
Just being able to truly be there for a friend, a family member, or a co-worker can be enough purpose to fuel you indefinitely.
I suggest not looking at meaning and purpose from the lens of social media comparisons, but from the lens of the people closest to us.
When we’re able to truly connect with those around us, meaning and purpose flow in a simple, natural, human way.
It can be as simple as three steps. Of course, these steps take some introspection, commitment, and self-reflection.
1. Get to know who you actually are
Introspection and honesty are a powerful combination.
We spend so much of our lives taking in information, but the truth of who we are is nowhere else but inside our own lived experience.
Journaling, meditating, and spending time in nature are fantastic for this. And you can’t beat a good therapist or a solid men’s group.
2. Learn to truly connect with others
The ability to be vulnerable and deeply connected is a primal skillset that each of us already has installed. We might just need to reboot it and get some reps in.
As social mammals, our relationships are primary. They’re our source of meaning. Learn to connect, and meaning will be right around the corner.
3. Learn to honor what you want
There are memes flying around that selfish is the new selfless. There’s something to that.
For many good reasons, men are often habituated to putting their needs and wants last. If this is the case, there’s great benefit to reestablishing a trusting relationship with what you want.
That goes for the big, grand issues as well as what you want for lunch.
There’s a straightforward path here. A sense of meaning and purpose makes us healthier and happier. Giving back gives us that sense of purpose.
This isn’t rocket science.
Now it just takes a moment of inspiration and motivation. There’s plenty of help needed on this planet of ours these days.
Consider this a nudge.