With the right type of online men’s groups supporting and challenging you, you can play your game of life at a higher level.
Online men’s groups are a great way to play the game of your life at a higher level than the one you’re currently playing. When you surround yourself with the right people, you end up with better stories to live by.
Stories are like software. A computer without software, operationally, is not a computer – it’s more of a potential computer. You can use it as a doorstop or a paperweight, but it’s not effective as a computer. Similarly, software that is out of date or limited in its ability will slow you down, make your life harder, and won’t give you the results you want.
Humans are not like computers, but there is an analogy between the software that operates in a computer and the stories that operate in a person.
By “story” I mean everything that makes us human. Our feelings and thoughts, and all the behavior that arises from those feelings and thoughts are based on the way we interpret sensory experience. Those interpretations are stories. They are, on some level, choices we make. We could choose other interpretations, which would lead to different feelings and thoughts, which would produce different behaviors.
From what we can tell, humans appear to be unique in the Animal kingdom in this way: we have a primary need to make meaning of things. It is psychologically uncomfortable for most people not to be able to make sense of something. This need for meaning is at the heart of the religious impulse, ritual, art, science, and other core human activities.
In my work as a pastor, I have seen people come to what seems to me to be some pretty crazy conclusions in order to make sense of tragic events, such as the death of a small child. I get it. Better a crazy conclusion than no conclusion. Better an answer that doesn’t make sense if we really think about it for 30 seconds than no answer at all.
The question is not whether we interpret life in terms of stories, but what stories we are telling. The level at which each of us is playing the game of life right now is in no small part due to the interpretations we give our experience and the behaviors that result.
Going back to the software analogy, whatever version we’re using right now is only going to let us play the game at the level we’re currently on. We might be able to advance a little bit, but if we really want to advance to the higher levels in the game, we’re going to need better software. We’re going to need new interpretations and ways of thinking about our life.
There are different tools you can use to upgrade your software.In no particular order:
1. Educate yourself.
Read novels or watch films that introduce you to other ways of seeing the world. Read or listen to autobiographies and biographies of people you admire and learn from their perspectives. Educate yourself. But don’t expose yourself only to material that confirms your current ways of thinking. Challenge yourself to go deeper.
2. Build your body.
Building your body is not the same as being a bodybuilder. Resistance training is great if you want to do that, but building your body is more than that. Simply recognize that you are an embodied creature. Take care of your body. Turn off the TV, put the game consul down, and go for a walk or a bike ride. If you’re sleep deprived, sleep more. Eat better. Take cold showers. The better job you do of taking care of your body, the better it will take care of you.
3. Sort your stuff out.
Believe the saying that pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional. Do whatever it takes to learn what to do with your suffering. Get therapy if you need it. Deal with your addictions. The life you have right now is the product of the ecosystem you have created, and that includes you deciding that you are willing to put up with your current level of suffering, or are powerless to do anything about it. See that as a choice, not an inevitability – and make a different choice.
4. Review your friends.
Your life is a direct reflection of the expectations of your peer group. There’s a good chance that you and your friends, whether you know it or not, are collaborating to make sure none of you grow very much. That is no one’s fault, including yours. It’s how our species operates. Humans are not a solitary species. Evolution encoded in our DNA is the need to stay connected to a group. That’s how we stay safe. Groups tend to operate at the lowest common denominator.
There’s a good chance that the people in your peer group are playing at the same level as you. If you really want to play at a higher level, it would be great if they do too and you can all do it together. But be prepared to have to find people who are already playing at the level you want to be at, and join them.
5. Join a men’s group.
There are many ways to upgrade your peer group. One is to find a group of men who are also committed to playing the game of life at a higher level and join them. Find a group that embodies your highest values and aspirations. Learn how the way they interpret life allows them to do what you want to do. Contribute your ideas. Share what is hard. If you live in a large enough area, you may find a group like this that meets in person. One of the upsides of modern tech is that geography is no longer a limitation to connection. Online men’s groups exist in many places and you can find one that will meet your needs.
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