7 Pillars of Masculinity

By Ryan Felman

What is masculinity?

I am often asked how to define masculinity or what virtues best encompass manliness. It is a difficult quality to quantify but men need guidance and more accurate rhetoric. This is a relatively short starting point for a term that is all-encompassing and varied.

1. Be Authentic

In all forms of expression, be authentic. This means being true to oneself.

If you are going to work, you better be able to stand up for your ideals. If not, then you are a slave to your boss. If you are going to speak online, speak in a manner that you would be comfortable having everyone from your mother to your priest reading your work. If you are going to act, then you better be able to defend your actions upon further scrutiny.

What you think, you say. What you say, you do. What you do, defines your character.

Life is full of actors and imitators and people living inauthentic lives. You don’t have to be a millionaire or a rock star to live a fulfilling life. To be fulfilled, you need to live a life that is authentic to your intentions and your principles.

When you live an authentic life, you are creating a life of freedom. Free from judgment, from living up to the standards of others, from fitting in with the tribe. By being true to yourself, you have liberated your mind, your actions and your very sense of being.


Once you realize that this is an option, there is no going back.

“I used to always care what everyone else thought about me. Friends, coworkers, family, and worst of all: strangers. I was miserable. Getting over the fear of judgment was one of the best things to ever happen to me.” – Ed Latimore

It’s normal to want to fit in with your friends and to live according to the expectations of your family. But it leads to anxiety and a life of fear. When you are constantly seeking to please others, you will find that you never make everyone happy. This will lead to you never being happy.

If you’re reading this though, you’re not like everyone else. You have consciously sought to better yourself and set yourself apart. So why are you still living like you’re one of the average people in society?

If you listen to everyone's advice, don't be surprised if you end up just like everyone else. They'll tell you to go to school, and do what you're told and one day if you're lucky you'll be able to slave away making your boss rich.

To be rich is a state of mind. You may never reach a level where you have everything you want. Conversely, you can appreciate what you have. Live a life authentic to your own desires and you will find fulfillment.


“Masculinity encompasses artistry, Idealized warriors, like the samurai. Aside form combatives, they practiced painting, calligraphy, and how to pour tea They meditated and practiced stillness. They rested, they recovered. They moved with grace.” - AJA Cortes

2. Be Courageous

Vices are poison to the warrior monk. Be pure in mind, body and spirit.

It takes courage to live a life true to one’s standards.

This may mean being brave enough to endure social pressure for standing up for your ideals. You need not be pressured into going out for drinks or wasting time in meaningless pursuits unless that is your intention. If you are so easily swayed, then you are not of free will.

Maybe you have a grand plan to start a new business. At the beginning there will be many doubters and critics who will tell you to take the easy road. The path of least resistance is seldom the road that leads to el Dorado. Once you achieve that success though, everyone will be lining up to get a slice of the pie. And yes, this will include many of those original doubters.

Being courageous means living a life true to one’s own mission. While it may be easier to follow the well-worn path of working corporate America, is that a lifestyle that you can accept? There’s nothing wrong with it, if you’re happy with it. The problem is that many seek comfortable lives over fulfilling lives.

Be brave enough to pursue your own mission. Even if that means taking a more difficult path. An easy life and a better life are rarely synonymous.

It takes strength to be brave and this quality is inherent to the very definition of masculinity. The word conjures up images of men like The Rock or Jack Donovan, but it is not only strength in body.

A modern masculine man also must be strong of mind as well. Today’s great men are warrior monks. The Knights Templar were described as warrior monks. Strive to be the modern-day equivalent by honing your spirit and your mind as well as your body.

Be vigilant, relentless and aggressive in the pursuit of your life’s mission.


“Courage is an animating spirit of masculinity, and it is crucial to any meaningful definition of masculinity. Courage and strength are synergetic virtues. An overabundance of one is worth less without an adequate amount of the other.” - Jack Donovan

3. Reclaiming Honor

As the years go on, I watch society shed more dignity with each day. Obesity, sloth and general depravity are celebrated and accepted. What happened to self-respect, honor and discipline? Reclaim your manhood!

If you have kids, get them in karate. You should join it as well or practice MMA. This teaches honor, discipline and respect. Karate is one of the few places where you earn your way. Belts aren’t given out and it takes dedication to progress. The true sense of accomplishment is great for self-esteem.

Why bother training in a martial art when you can just carry a gun? Because there will always be times when you won’t have your gun on you. The sad fact of reality is that our inalienable right is trampled upon at airports, government building, the entire state of Illinois and several other places. I guess Starbucks says they’re banned but who cares about that place with its sugar-filled soyshakes.

Also, what are you going to do when you run out of ammo? If you haven’t been in a firefight, it is amazing how fast the ammo can be expended. No matter how many times you hit dead center on a paper target, the experience is simply different when there are lives on the line and the target is shooting back.

Martial arts is a great piece that is missing in many lives of modern men. Here you can truly train yourself to become the warrior. It provides a brotherhood where they can exert their physical energy and meet other like-minded people. It is great for both men and women.

These places tend to have people who are focused on maintaining a healthy lifestyle and live productive lives. If you can maintain an athletic physique, then you are at least capable of being disciplined in other areas of your life. Now some in there will struggle but everyone is at different levels on their Path to Manliness.

I remember when I first showed up to class. I did alright since I took classes as a kid, but I was rusty and a bit overweight. I have lost nearly 25 pounds since joining in early 2018. This is due to changes in diet and regular trips to the gym as well, but Martial Arts are very helpful. Now after a few months, I am stronger, more flexible and better trained to defend myself no matter where I am. I even assist in teaching the kid’s classes every week. If you want to adopt the warrior mindset, this is the single most important way for you to do so.

Look in your gym or online and I’m sure your town will offer some form of martial arts. Find an academy with a knowledgeable instructor. Check the reviews or attend a couple classes. Most places let you do a free trial for a couple classes.

Also, if you have kids, this is the perfect way to teach them some self-defense skills and discipline. Martial Arts teaches form and technique in a fun but challenging manner that requires patience and dedication. The ranking system will motivate and reward your child for his or her efforts.


“One’s own house is best, though it be small;
each man is a free man at home;
though he own two she-goats
and a bark-thatched hut,
it is still better than begging.

… With a bleeding heart will he beg, who must,
his meat at every meal.” -
The Viking Havamal

4. Be Self-Reliant

Pride may come before the fall but leading a life of independence is truly gratifying. A man worth his salt is a man who first takes care of himself through hard work and creative pursuits. He then uses the fruits of his labors to benefit those around them. Taking care of his family, his pets and his community.

One of the 9 noble virtues of the Vikings and the followers of Asatru is Self-Reliance.

Before you claim that I’m advocating for rape and pillage, understand that this cartoonish perception of Vikings has been crafted by Hollywood and the media at large. And sorry Minnesota fans, but the Vikings didn’t even have horns on their helmets. Most of the Norse people were simple farmers.

Although there were Berserkers, which were warriors who upon seeking out to conquer new lands, would amp themselves up for battle and charge the enemy fearlessly. This conjured up an image of invincibility by their enemies. A clever and fearsome battle tactic.

How can you be more self-reliant? Work hard to provide for yourself and your family. Set aside savings for a rainy day. This way you’ll be prepared for life’s curveballs. The Vikings were used to this mindset due to the harshness of the elements in Northern Europe with the long winters.

As an economist, I understand the power in division of labor, and literally never change my oil. That being said, I can change a tire. I can fell a tree and collect firewood if the power is out. I can cook a meal over a fire without electricity.

Life is full of adversity, and today’s ideal man is capable of thriving in these challenging situations. Many of us even enjoy the obstacle. It provides spice into our soft civilization.

The self-reliant man is complicated in a modern society that works cohesively to form a system that is mutually beneficial to all, even those who aren’t independent. What matters is finding a positive way to contribute to society at large, and that can mean many things more than simply contributing financially. The effects of a man’s time is often more valuable than a man’s wealth.


'Why aren't more people disciplined?' Because there is nothing sexy about discipline. It's the complete opposite of sexy. Routine, structure & consistency. Which is why losers stay away from it. They want something more shiny to place their attention on. - ArmaniTalks

5. Be Disciplined

Be focused in all your pursuits and passions.

While most people crave freedom, they forget that discipline and freedom are two sides of the same coin. Without discipline, a life of pure freedom is anarchy. It is discipline that creates this life of freedom in the first place.

By being disciplined enough to stick to the schedule that you set up for yourself, you are living by your own design. This is what gives you the freedom to liberate yourself from the schedule of others. By remaining disciplined, you will produce results.

The problem with average people is they are fickle rather than disciplined. They seek quick riches or results. Average people don’t want to put in the time and effort for the results they want. They search for gimmicks or quick remedies rather than tried and true tactics. This mindset is the reason for a half a trillion-dollar pharmaceutical industry.

If you want to be successful in life, it takes discipline. Simple things like exercising and eating right is too much for the average person. They rather make excuses than make a fulfilling life.

The average mindset is moving from impulse to whim without a second thought. Look at how many joke or brag about being a slave to their drug of choice. Namely pot or booze.

Waking up early on Saturday without a hangover is the mark of the enlightened man. He knows discipline and limits. He also knows the power in enjoying life as opposed to numbing himself with the products of corporate America. Alcohol is so ingrained into the very culture of the West that few realize how much it holds them back.

Alcoholism is a word that gets thrown around a lot, but many have a minor form of this disease. A ‘soft alcoholism’ if you will. You see this in people who will always want one more, yet don’t have that rock bottom moment that causes reflection or sobriety. This can lead to wasting time and sapping your energy.

If you haven’t gone 30 days without alcohol, give it a shot. If you refuse to do so, then you may have a problem. “I can quit anytime,” is all talk and no action.

If you’re unsatisfied with your life, start planning a day in advance. Set a plan for tomorrow and stick with. Few are this disciplined.


“Two kinds of happiness. Worldly happiness is reward from our evolutionary program. Get praise, money, drugs, sex. It busies the mind with craving & anxiety. Internal happiness is reward from being in flow. Create, meditate, love, play. It clears the mind & leaves us in peace.” - Naval

6. Be Creative

My life really began to improve when I started writing. Why is this? Because life is much more fulfilling when you are creating more than you are consuming.

Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. Be afraid of leaving this world wondering what if? I owe a lot of my positive results to a better lifestyle. Reading more. Writing more. Exercising more. Most importantly, giving back: creating. Live a life of purpose.

Creativity is simply an artistic word for sharing, and what a beautiful idea that is. I believe everyone has their own story to share. It is truly inspiring to hear what other motivated people are doing with their lives. The tragedy of the world, is that through peer pressure or time constraints, few of us are bold enough to share with the world what we have inside our hearts.

While there is comfort in numbers, it is the one who goes against the crowd that leads to innovation. While it is simpler to follow a path that is well worn, you won’t discover anything new down the path already traveled. And if you look at those that forge a new path, we all see the success. What we don’t see is all the failures that helped to shape not only that success, but also that person.

That is the difference between a creator and a consumer. One gave up too soon. Most of us have it inside of us to be successful in our own ways. The difference between those that succeed and those that spend their days in a life of mediocrity boils down to perseverance.

The derivative of creation is consumption. What you consume will directly impact what you create. Therefore, it matters whether you spend your free time watching hate and vitriol on the mainstream news or mindless television or seek better forms of media. The rise of long form discussion and podcasts shows there is a desire for more intellectual media.

Never stop learning or sharing what you have learned.


“The youth have the knowledge of today. The elders have the wisdom of the past. Together we can be unstoppable.“ - Chief Chuck

7. Mentoring the Youth

There are men who don’t know who their father is. There are men who have been separated by their father. Then there are men who simply choose not to be involved in their child’s life and this has created a void that I seek to help fill. And you can too.

Plenty are quick to condemn and lambast the younger generation. Few are willing to put forth their time and effort in helping the young generation better themselves. I used to turn down opportunities due to lack of confidence. Now I’m part of leadership program in my community helping kids. Change your mindset. Change your world.

Society has attacked manliness in nearly all venues of life. Now we have a society filled with confused men who don't know what it means to be men. We have broken the nuclear family and caused a generation to be raised without a positive male role model in the house.

The lack of positive male role models in the home, due to the family court system, in school due to a lack of male teachers and elsewhere is leading to a young generation growing up with no sense of direction or purpose.

If you are angered by the perverse image of masculinity being portrayed by corporations, advertisers and the media, then it is your responsibility to take up the role of showing an accurate representation of positive masculinity.

Do this in your writing, in your speech, but most importantly your actions.


If you seek to join a group of men who are working to better themselves, then you need to get On The Path!


Bonus: Persevere

Every day that you choose to persist.

Every day that you keep fighting.

That is you saying No to death.

Death is inevitable.

It is far too easy to give into nihilism, yet humanity doesn't. We keep fighting.

We get up and fight. We persist. Why?

Because you choose to.

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