This event has passed but the principles of choice apply nonetheless. Although focused on men, this post has content that relates to everyone.
When I sat down with Ali from OASIS (Wellbeing Promotion Officer) to discuss the OASIS stall at the upcoming Men’s Health Day on the 5th June, I’ll admit to having been a little lost. You see we were trying to find a ‘theme’ for the content of our stall that fit closely with the concept of men’s health.
The problem is I don’t really write for ‘men’ specifically. Most of my wellbeing related writing nowadays has its underpinnings in my Mental Fitness Model and whilst I recognise there might be some gender differences in the appeal of the model or preferences for different parts of the model, I don’t really write from the perspective of trying to appeal to a specific gender. In fact, I probably spend more time trying to understand wellbeing factors that affect us all, regardless of gender, race, culture or age.
Trying to theme my ideas towards men therefore was quite difficult.
You can go the stereotype route in which you theme stuff according to traditional male interests or characteristics (sport, beards, BBQing, fishing, outdoors, beer etc) but nowadays this just feels a little old or tired. You also run the risk of alienating those men for whom those interests or characteristics don’t appeal.
But on the opposite side, do we really want to lose the masculine identity altogether? I see lots of benefits of allowing individuals, regardless of gender, age, race or culture to shape their own identity, free from the shackles of the past. However I also want, as a man, to find a modern sense of masculinity that I and other men can embrace.
So we went with the theme of ‘choice‘. I’ll tell you why this theme works well for me, as a man. I fully understand this might not hold for others though, so I welcome your feedback and whether the theme of choice applies to you also.
As a youngish (40’s) white male in Australia I’ve had ample choices. I can select (within limits) where I work, the work I do, what I eat, my hobbies, how I spend my time, who I spend my time with, what I focus on etc.
With this freedom comes responsibility. That I make a contribution to the society I live in, so that others who have not been as fortunate as me get given similar choices.
But choice is a double-edged sword.
Some choice is very good for our psychology. It gives us a sense of autonomy and control.
However, too much choice can be bad for our psychology. It can leave us paralyzed, not knowing what to do, what path to take.
Part of being a modern man, in my opinion, is learning to be strong and show leadership in both these areas. What does this look like?
- Being mindful that others have not had the same fortune and choices as me and doing my best to level the playing field a bit. That can mean lots of different things, but for me personally it means charitable donations, working on projects that are wellbeing focused and accessible to all and trying to be more open to different perspectives (I can tend to be a bit closed minded at times).
- Be a role model in how I handle the choices I have been given through being decisive, taking specific action, and not wasting opportunities. This is about stepping up and trying to take full advantage of the many privileges I have been afforded being a white male in Australia. I am only part-way on this particular journey. My Mental Fitness stuff is my attempt to give back to others what I have learned being a psychologist.
That is why ‘choices’ as a theme resonates for me personally.
So at the OASIS stall on the 5th June you’ll have a couple of choices:
The first will be a relatively superficial choice between different free takeaway items. Free stuff is cool.
The second will be a more personal choice, one you’ll make in the confines of your own mind about where you want to focus your attention and efforts.
I choose to be constantly trying to improve myself – join me on a journey of Mental Fitness
I choose not to procrastinate – https://collegeinfogeek.com/how-to-stop-procrastinating/
I choose to work specifically on the emotions that trouble me most – learn how to use CBT to manage your emotions
I choose to look after my body and mind – join the gym at Flinders One or start following the Eat Well @ Flinders crew
I choose to be open-minded and take on the perspectives of others – read widely and regularly
I choose to surround myself with good people – focus on those friendships where you help each other achieve your goals
I choose to do something each week to help other people – talk to the Horizon Awards people for volunteering opportunities
I choose to get to know myself better – start journalling or meditating
I choose coffee – I’m pretty sure you know how to do this already
I choose to think about what I want my future to look like – try the self-authoring program
I choose to make the world a safer place for the people I love – support, don’t criticise
I choose to spend time in nature – just go outside, pat a cat, talk to a plant
I choose to make myself an indispensable worker – Have a chat to one of the team at Careers
I choose to become a master of money – make the MoneySmart website your friend
I choose to learn how to truly relax and have fun – remind yourself just how many things are actually fun
Explore more strategies in our self-care guide
And maybe I’ll see you on the stall on the 5th June @ the Hub