We invite you to explore the forces that define and limit male happiness and help men break out of the ‘happiness box.’
The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. —Henry David Thoreau, Walden
Clap along if you know what happiness is to you —Pharrell Williams, “Happy”
You know us well enough here at The Good Men Project to know we would never seek the magic formula for male happiness or try to establish the essential characteristics of a “typical” happy man. There is no such animal, and the definition of happiness differs for each person. But we do want to explore the concept of male happiness, because men are influenced from an early age by cultural and societal forces concerning what “should” make them happy.
First we’d like to ask—what is it that makes you happy? Especially, what would you say makes you happy if no one told you how to think about that answer?
And then consider this: Whether it’s the traditional trappings of a great job and financial success, a beautiful wife and intelligent kids, an amazing physique, athletic ability, or lots of great sex to brag about, or the more recently elevated aspiration of pursuing your creative passion and living the life of your dreams, men are constantly served up examples of what they need to do to achieve happiness. These expectations create another man box, the “happiness box,” that constricts men’s lives and limits the futures they seek for themselves.
The result: not having or doing or being these things causes men to feel shame and humiliation.
Is there a disconnect between what really really makes you happy—and what you think *should* make you happy? That’s the place we’d like to explore. But we’re equally interested in how you’ve discovered what it is that truly makes you happy. Do you have an answer to the blank statement here: “My life became better when_____”. What do you do for happiness that is non-stereotypical or counterintuitive?
We’re looking for articles that explore the problems that societal definitions of male happiness create and examples of men who have found their own fulfilling ways to live a happy life.
Articles might take the form of personal narratives in either written or video form, examination of media influences, interviews with men, or opinion pieces.
We’ll also be tweeting this call and gathering responses from our Twitter followers.
Please send your submissions to [email protected]
Thank you for participating in our conversation about what it means to be a man in the 21st century—the conversation no one else is having.