Dressing to feel good !

How to be a better man – 5 things you don’t do on the cheap

Today we have another post in my how to be a better man series. As a quick reminder this post and the series is from a heterosexual males’ point of view. These tips may or may not be applicable to other orientations. I don’t know, and I don’t assume. The best resource for men to survive, improve and flourish is other men. I hope this post helps.

So there are things men should never do on the cheap. Meaning you spend a little extra to get the best result possible. The areas below are things you should be going the extra mile for. These help with style, attraction, self-confidence and perception. A man who pays attention to detail conveys to the world they have their shit together, you want to be one of those men.

  1. Face & Hair care – I haven’t mentioned this before but you need a skin routine. This should start in your 20’s but a few times a week you should be using a scrub on your face to cleanse dead skin. You should be moisturizing your skin as well at least before bed time but ideally twice a day. Do your research get good organic products, your 40-year-old self will thank you. For your hair you should be conditioning your hair not shampooing it. Shampoo is a soap that strips your hair, you want to clean your hair and make it healthy. Invest in a good conditioner and work your scalp and your hair with it and leave it on for the duration of the shower. We want healthy hair and that partially comes from conditioner.
  2. Shoes & Belts – Unless you are a collector you don’t need a lot of shoes or belts. Both are great items that help outfits. You always go quality of quantity here. Always have a pair of black dress shoes and a black belt with simple buckle. These can be universally worn anywhere really. Take care of these items with shoe polish and don’t roll up your belts, when you take them off hang them up on a hook so you don’t get a crease.
  3. Gifts – Always buy 1 great gift instead of many little/cheap gifts. Here is the thing, when you give someone a gift it should be meaningful. Getting something they want is ideal but never skimp or do it on the cheap. If someone wants a really nice water bottle for their yoga class? You buy the high end bottle. Gifts are more than an acknowledgement of an achievement it’s a way to show someone you care by being thoughtful and giving them quality over quantity.
  4. Teeth – The eyes may be the window into the soul but teeth are the gateway to authenticity. You speak, people listen. What you say and how you say it is important. People watch you when you are talking, when you smile. Great teeth are disarming, engaging and in some cases a means to generate attraction. Get your teeth cleaned at least twice a year.
  5. Watches, Rings, Necklaces & Bracelets – These are jewelry pieces and not all men wear them. Some wear them all, to each their own. Quantity sometimes enhances a look but now a days less men wear watches and even few bracelets. Make sure your jewelry pieces have meaning that you can articulate. Maybe you bought it abroad, maybe it belonged to a deceased family member. Otherwise they are decorations to enhance your presentation. Make sure these are quality pieces and use them sparingly.

The basic message here is spend a little extra and get the upgrade in these items. These shouldn’t bust your budget but quality is always the way to go if you can swing it. In doing so you help your self-esteem, raise your confidence, generally feel better about yourself resulting in you being a better man.

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My thoughts on Roe V Wade being over turned.

Roe v Wade has been overturned eliminating federal protections for abortions. To be clear this does not mean abortions are now outlawed in the U.S. On the contrary actually, this ruling allows each state to make their own laws governing the practice unfettered by federal precedent. This means those states who want abortions can make it even easier and conversely the states that don’t want it can outlaw it completely.

As a libertarian I have a very simple political view on abortion: The government should have minimal to no involvement in your health care. It should be exclusively between you and your chosen doctor. If you and your doctor agree that abortion is the way to go for you, you should be able to have the procedure anywhere at any time you chose.

As a person I have a very simple view on life: I believe life begins when the heart beats. I believe that a life dependent on another to survive forces the host to make decisions on the dependents well-being. Simply put, I believe abortion is appropriate up until the baby can survive outside of the womb. After that, I have an issue with take the child’s life via abortion.

Children are a blessing, when you’re ready for them…

As a man my view on abortion: I am not carrying the child so it is not my decision to make. My input and opinion should only be considered if sought. Conversely if it is my child and my opinion is not desired, you cannot then expect me to categorically support you and the child. Simply put, If I create a life with a woman It’s my responsibility at the point of conception. If that woman wants to terminate the pregnancy that would be her decision. If she wanted to carry the child to term and I did not want that, that’s also her decision. However, my involvement, in my opinion, would thus be limited to reasonable financial support.

This is all very clinical, I am hopeful that by over turning this decision the reproductive rights of women will be enhanced but I am not encouraged to be honest. The bottom line is, Roe v Wade wasn’t perfect but it was better than nothing. It shouldn’t have been over turned and while I am loathe to support government oversight into private citizens lives there are exceptions to be made when those oversights provide critical protections.

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3 reasons why the younger you are the brighter you work future looks. 

In this post we are going back to the workplace to give some of our younger reader’s encouragement. The last major work force shift was via globalization. Many of you are too young to remember a time when globalization WASN’T prevalent. When everything wasn’t made in china, as an example. I’m not here to say globalization is good or bad, but it’s an example of how work can change dramatically.

The latest shift was hastened by the pandemic that is the “great resignation” which coincided with a huge increase in people working from home. This shift is evolving but similar to globalization this will have a dramatic impact for the next 20-30 years. Globalization didn’t happen overnight, it took decades and now it is here. The “great resignation” impact is being felt now but it’s really just beginning. This is why the younger you are the brighter your work future looks.

Why? Three major reasons.

  1. Remote work – in 2015 remote work was a novelty now it is main stream. It’s not going away and its upside is hard to quantify but I will try. Less time traveling to work, more opportunity to work at convenient times for you. More options for work. You see Remote work is a game changer in so many ways. Younger workers are going to be able to adapt quickly and in some cases hold more than one job making much more money.
  2. Boomers & Gen Xer’s – We are getting older. Many boomers have already left the work force. I will be gone in 15 years myself. There are more of us working in traditional industries then the younger generations (some Gen Z kids are still in high school). The more of us that leave the more positions that open up. The work isn’t going away, it still needs to be done and companies need someone to do it. This ties in to the point below as well but as Gen Xers age out of jobs you’re going to have more chances at middle and upper management roles, that’s where the real money resides.
  3. Birth rates – People are having less children and they are having them older. This really started with my generation xers. Many of us had our kids in our 30’s and our family size dropped from prior generations. This trend is continuing, along with lower marriage rates as well. The bottom line is there will be less people in the workforce coming in 20-30 years from now. So the 20-40 year olds working now? Things look good for you here, newer, younger cheaper versions might not be so plentiful in say 2050.
Working from home?

I know conceptually some of this might be a stretch but it’s not out of the realm at all. I think most of these suppositions are actually highly probable. It could be that we experience another huge labor force shift on a shorter time span then normal (they usually happen every 35-100 years). Technology is moving quickly so it might be global companies have an even broader pool of candidates should they continue to evolve remote work.

Either way I think it bodes well for younger workers. I think in 2050 the people turning 40 will have very good employment opportunities and income levels should be very robust. This of course doesn’t account for anomalies like pandemics, war, environmental disasters. Let’s not kid ourselves things could go badly, but if things remain the same as they are now I think working in the next 20-30 years will be easier. You will have better options, more availability and a greater pool of employment opportunities.

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Wisdom from the past – Psalm 34:18

The book of psalms is a wealth of wisdom. For my regular readers you know I am not a Christian, I am a pagan heathen. That doesn’t mean that religious texts and doctrine are without merit. How did Bob Dylan put it? “We always did feel the same we just saw it from a different point of view”. We aren’t here for Dylan’s wisdom, we are here for the psalm.

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

For those of you in faith you already have a close relationship with god. For those of us who are spiritual and or unsure? This is of great comfort. Grief will happen to you in your life, and it’s a very lonely place to be. It’s worse than anxiety really because of the profound sense of loss. Take heart, if you can, maybe the lord is with you right now, even if you don’t believe.

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Going to a Museum = Anxiety relief?

As we navigate through anxiety there are places along the journey that we find respite. Maybe you have a favorite beach location, a park you like to walk in, a game you like to play, a food you like to eat. How about a museum? It never occurred to me that it might be a way to relieve anxiety but according to an article I found here ,it might.

From the article: “Art museums have great potential to positively impact people, including reducing their stress, enhancing positive emotional experiences, and helping people to feel less lonely and more connected,” researcher Katherine Cotter told Hyper allergic. The study, titled “Art Museums As Institutions for Human Flourishing,” was published in the Journal of Positive Psychology by Cotter and James O. Pawelski of the University of Pennsylvania.”

Further: “They discovered that visiting a museum reduced stress levels, frequent visits decreased anxiety, and viewing figurative art lowered blood pressure. They also found that museum visits lowered the intensity of chronic pain, increased a person’s life span, and lessened the likelihood of being diagnosed with dementia. And people living with dementia saw mental and physical benefits as well: Spending time in a museum induced more dynamic stress responses, higher cognitive function, and improvements in the symptoms of depression.”

Maybe someday Anxiety will be a thing of the past only found in museums

Those are some serious claims. Honestly it’s hard to make the connection myself but I am not a researcher in the field. That said it is logical to assume the findings are accurate as a museum gives you an opportunity to be in public with others, admiring the same thing. You have a shared experience and want, meaning you are all here to appreciate whatever the museum holds and that in of its self is reassuring.

Anytime you can be in a public venue with like-minded people that is helpful. The clams lowering chronic pain, increasing life span etc.? those seem like stretches to me. I’d like to see a larger sample to prove out the data but I don’t take the article as complete hogwash either. Studies don’t get published unless there is minimally good controls and the researchers are of some merit. Yes, the data is probably being vetted now by other psychologists comparatively with their own research.

That said, as a non-psychologist dealing with anxiety we take any morsel of info we can get to help us along the way. So maybe visit a museum or two this year. Make it an annual rite for yourself, perhaps it will help with anxiety and the many other issues discussed in the article.

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What Is Juneteenth?

So once again we have another holiday piece on the blog. This is a new holiday for the blog but not a new holiday on the calendar. It is though now a federal holiday in the U.S. That is significant because most government services, and banks are closed. Juneteenth, in brief is the celebration of the emancipation of slaves in the U.S. One of the darkest blights on this complex nation is slavery. It was not exclusive to the U.S. but even today some still grapple with its legacy.

This post isn’t meant to tackle racial issues in the U.S. They exist and there are plenty of resources for you out there should you want more narrative on that. What we examine here is the actual specifics of holidays. Juneteenth is short for June 19th, you probably knew that. In the year 1865, that date is significant because federal troops arrived in Galveston Texas, took over the state and ensured any enslaved peoples were free.

This is significant because Texas was a hold out. After the South surrendered Texas refused to alter its slavery practices until, on June 19th 1865 they were forced to by federal forces. Texas hadn’t faced many (if any) military action on its soil during the war. Texas is a very unique state in how it came to be a state but at the time they were fiercely independent and with no federal presence (unlike much of the rest of the south) they felt they could continue on as usual with slavery.

Freedom & Liberty for all

Freed men and women celebrated, and over the years June 19th became a symbol of “actual” freedom from slavery. Many people get confused with the emancipation proclamation of 1863 which didn’t free slaves at all. It was more of a declaration of intent by Lincoln, he still had to defeat the south before actual freedom could occur, thank god we did.

In 1979, Texas became the first state to make Juneteenth an official holiday; several others followed suit over the years. In June 2021, Congress passed a resolution establishing Juneteenth as a national holiday; President Biden signed it into law on June 17, 2021. 

And so today is the official holiday. I have the day off from work, so do many Americans. The reality of the holiday is, most non-African Americans don’t have a formal tradition to celebrate. The African Americans in my life don’t celebrate it, that I know if anyway but I will see some of them on July 4th and will ask.

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Surviving 2020 & covid

The Stigma’s of Depression – Repost of one of my better articles.

Found a very interesting article with several links to studies that discusses multiple stigma’s for various groups in society.

MDD or Major depressive disorder is an underdiagnosed condition. Often its not the medical professionals that miss the signs, but rather the patients who are covering up and hiding symptoms due to stigmatism. Race as an example is a factor as many minorities are already dealing with accepted social profiles (although this is changing) the mere fact you are a minority (there are less people that look like you) could be an important factor in whether you have depression. Often, we see minority groups that live near each other, there is a reason for that beyond our social constructs. Simply put, humans are social creatures and we want to be around people who we believe are like ourselves.

Then there are men. Some men suffer in silence, but why? “As to why the men did not seek help for depression or sadness, the main themes focused on weakness and loss of masculinity for doing so.” Again, this specific social stigma is changing but not fast enough if you ask me.

College students were also studied. College has become a far more competitive environment than it was. If you are a Gen Xer like me, you went to college in the 90’s. Yes, it was competitive, but we didn’t have the weight of social media hanging around our necks either. When we went to bars and to parties, we weren’t uploading the “perfect pics” to Instagram. Maybe a few to myspace…. (😊) Millennials and now Gen Z are competing with one another for coveted spots in schools, on social media, in sports the list goes on and on. For some depression is a clear outcome for this increased pressure and the stigma attached to it is now not only do you have your inner social circle, but that circle includes individuals who can broadcast your issues to literally millions of people via YouTube, a blog like this, Instagram, twitter…

Social Media = Anxiety

Last let’s discuss older people. What is “old” “it’s just a number its all how you feel” well if that’s true there were somedays last month I felt dam near 80…. Older individuals are usually people, clinically anyway 55 or older, elderly is your 70+. Those are both generalities based on what I have observed and read over the years, you decide for yourself, but I think you get the picture. The issue here is the stigma of “getting old” is in fact reality based. Meaning at this point in our lives we are entering the final phases of our live. Average age for men in women is 80 ish, so a 73-year-old is closer to their ultimate live expectancy.

The stigma is the fight against aging and the omission of being old. You see it over and over in TV commercials. Product A offers healthier skin, Product B relieves joint pain, Product C lowers cholesterol so you can play with the grand kids…. Point here is we have built marketing around combating aging and taking products to help what ails us. This creates the conditions by which many don’t want to talk about getting old, which can lead to masking of serious depression issues for older citizens. Loss of spouses, friends passing, Parents and siblings facing medical issues… all of these contribute to the mortality mindset. You begin to think about your own, and many enter depression as a result.

“The paradox of depression treatment is that patients who most need it are often the ones who have difficulty accessing care due to stigma, attitudes toward mental health, and lack of access. Healthcare professionals need to adapt their approaches with different populations to ensure access to care.”

If you are depressed or just don’t feel right your age is irrelevant. You should tell your Dr. who can help you. The goal is to live the best life you can with the time you have, living in depression doesn’t have to be a life sentence.

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Another finance secret finance professionals won’t tell you (but I will)

One of the more successful finance posts I have on my blog is a finance secret I shared that industry professionals wont. You can find that post here.

Today I have another secret for you, it’s not a true secret as its not actually hidden but unless you are astute in finance you aren’t necessarily going to catch it. It has to do with mortgages, which in the U.S. right now is a hot finance topic. House prices in the U.S. have risen over the last 3 years anywhere from 8-25% depending on what market you are in.  House prices traditionally do not go down, they level off. If we look at a 100 years of house price data, we can only find 2 years where the median average price drops in comparison to the prior year. Again, this is largely aggregated meaning a market like Manhattan is an extreme, a rural town in Montana might be an extreme as well but on average that is where it stands.

So what is the secret? When you go for a mortgage your ability to borrow money is based on your GROSS income, not your net. It’s a trick banks use to be able to lend you more. So your ability to borrow is based on the amount you earned, not the amount you actually have to spend. The bank/lender does not account for health insurance cost, taxes, child support on and on. The good news is people who would otherwise not qualify for a mortgage can based on their gross income.

Borrowing the max amount, is a foolish move.

The bad news is exactly the same as the good, you can qualify for mortgages you would not have the ability to afford because it was based on your gross income, not your net. So you get situations where people borrow too much, you get terms like “house poor” because most of your income goes to paying your mortgage. The kicker? (well there is two) you pay for the privilege to borrow more than you can afford via interest. The other? You pay for PMI (Private Mortgage Insurance) which essentially protects the lender if you cannot pay the mortgage THEY gave you. You know the one they based on your gross not your net.

No lender is going to tell you it’s too much house, unless its WAY overpriced for your income. You have to be the one who figures this out. You need to estimate the mortgage payment and look at how much you actually TAKE HOME a month. You don’t want your mortgage payment to be more then 25-35% of your take home pay. Additionally, you don’t want a 30-year mortgage if you can absolutely avoid it because the interest alone is a killer. Banks want to lend you money, that’s how they make THEIR money via interest. It’s a tough real-estate market out there you have to be extra careful.

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Ancient Wisdom - Confucius

Ancient Wisdom – Confucius

Many of us have heard of Confucius, we know that he was a Chinese philosopher who through his years of writing, observation and work in government created a philosophy of personal morality. This isn’t a political piece or a religious piece. As individuals with anxiety we can use wisdom of the past to help us in the present.

“The man who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.”

How many times have we been faced with an issue that looks like a mountain? We get overwhelmed and we fall into the pit of woe that is anxiety and mental health issues. Is one little saying going to help us? Maybe a little, maybe not at all.

How to move mountains
When you have Anxiety, Mountains appear often.

That said at the end of the day events happen to us, mountains appear. We have to deal with them. The beauty of this wisdom is it illustrates literally and figuratively how to deal with a problem that becomes a mountain.

You have to start, and you work the problem one small step (stone) at a time. Look we all have obstacles that pop up in our lives and some of them are extreme. You can move that mountain, be calm, and be methodical… Take one step at a time, one stone at a time and in no time the mountain will be moved and you will be right back on your chosen path.

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Physical stress leads to cognitive decline later(Repost)

Cognitive decline is no joke, many of us have someone in their life or know someone by extension who has or is dealing with someone with a mental illness in later life. Imagine for a moment not remembering the people you love? I’ve had some personal experience with someone in my family who had Alzheimer’s. It was devastating for the immediate family (it was my aunt) and it was just very sad.

I found a good article here about how physical stress can lead to cognitive decline.

From the article: “The research team studied 99 adults between the ages of 60 and 79 who were cognitively healthy – clear of psychiatric and neurologic illness, plus no history of stroke; transient ischemic attack, also known as a “mini-stroke”; or head trauma. By using brain images of the participants and an occupational survey about their most recent job, the researchers found that those who reported high levels of physical stress on the job had a smaller hippocampus – the region of the brain associated with memory – and performed worse on memory-related tasks. Examples of physically demanding work included excessive reaching or lifting of boxes onto shelves.”

No matter what job you do, sleep is critical !

Now this is by no means an extensive study but it still very telling. Those with “physical stress” had a smaller hippocampus. This can be associated with many jobs what we in the west traditionally call “blue collar” jobs. FedEx delivery, Coal Miners, Landscapers, Roofers on and on. The article talks about how stress accelerates the aging process, we knew that.

We now know through this limited study that physical stress can also accelerate the aging process. I don’t think this is a revelation to most but the association of physical stress at work to a decreased hippocampus later in life is very revealing. Some people work hard all their lives to enjoy retirement and a year or two in health problems start to appear.

Hard work is good for the soul, it gives you a sense of accomplishment and there is a certain satisfaction to it. When I was young I worked on my grandparent’s farm, we worked hard every day and by night fall I was out. The food tasted better, breaks were more enjoyable, and sleep was pure.

For those of you out there busting your hump in a physically demanding job make sure you are taking care of your body and mind. Adequate rest is critical and if you are “feeling it” get help ASAP. There is no shame in asking for help if you feel stress or anxiety.

You are doing awesome, one day at a time. 

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