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In last month’s AoM podcast episode with Dr. Martin Gibala about high-intensity interval training, he mentioned a high-intensity workout program that was developed by the Royal Canadian Air Force during the late 1950s, took only eleven minutes to perform, and became hugely popular with the civilian population. Duly intrigued, we decided to dig up the program to see what it involved.

The 5BX plan (Five Basic Exercises) was born out of a particular need: a third of the RCAF’s pilots were deemed unfit to fly and needed a workout program that 1) could be done without any specialized equipment, as the pilots were often stationed at remote bases without access to standard gyms, and 2) could fit into airmen’s busy schedules.

While high-intensity training hadn’t yet won mainstream acceptance, the pioneering research of Dr. Bill Orban had showed that by increasing the intensity of exercise, people could get the same fitness-improving benefits in much less time. Orban used this insight to develop 5BX, which involved doing five exercises — four of which targeted flexibility and strength and one that worked aerobic capacity — in just eleven minutes. The Canadian military encouraged not only its pilots to perform it, but their children as well. Orban also developed a plan for women called XBX, which involved doing ten exercises in 12 minutes.

In the 1960s, the programs were published together as the Royal Canadian Air Force Exercise Plans and distributed outside the military. The booklet became popular with civilians not only in Canada but around the world; it was translated into thirteen languages, sold 23 million copies, and is credited with helping to launch our modern fitness culture. 

If you’d like to try it out, we’ve reformatted and republished the 5BX plan below. It features six “charts,” each of which includes the program’s five main exercises:

  1. Stretching
  2. Sit-up
  3. Back extension
  4. Push-up
  5. Running in place, interspersed with various jumps (can be substituted for an actual run or walk)

Each chart offers progressively more difficult variations of the five exercises, and you work your way from one level of performance on a particular chart to the next, and then from one chart to the next. Charts 5 and 6 get into some elite-level athletics — good luck with those toe-touching jack jumps, friends.

For a visual demonstration of some of the exercises, watch this 1959 Royal Canadian Air Force training video.


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The Five Basic Exercises (5BX) Plan presented in this booklet is designed to show you how to develop and hold a high level of physical fitness, regardless of where you may be located. The scheme is not dependent on elaborate facilities or equipment. The exercises require only eleven minutes a day and can be done in your bedroom or beside your bed in your barracks.

The diversity of work assignments, combined with lack of adequate gymnasium facilities at many of your stations makes it difficult to schedule formal physical training periods for all our personnel. The 5BX Plan puts physical fitness training within reach of every member of the RCAF.

It is your duty and responsibility as a member of the RCAF to maintain a high level of physical fitness and be ready for any emergency which may require the extended use of your physical resources. Positive physical well-being is also closely allied with mental and emotional fitness, all of which are essential in the discharge of normal daily tasks.

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Warming Up

The 5BX Plan was designed so that no additional warmup is necessary in order to receive its maximum benefits.

The older one is, the more necessary proper warming up becomes to avoid “strained” muscles. The 5BX Plan has a built-in method of warmup. This is achieved in two ways:

  • by the arrangement of the exercises; and
  • by the manner in which these exercises are performed.

For example, the first exercise is a stretching and loosening exercise which limbers up the large muscles of the body. In addition, this exercise should be started very slowly and easily, with a gradual increase in speed and vigor.

Let us see how this principle applies to exercise No. 1, which requires you to touch the floor. You should not force yourself to do it on the first attempt, but rather start by pushing down very gently and slowly as far as you can without undue strain — then on each succeeding try push down a little harder, and, at the same time, do the exercise a little faster so that by the end of two minutes you are touching the floor and moving at the necessary speed. All the exercises can be performed in this manner.

What Is It?

The 5BX Plan is composed of 6 charts arranged in progression. Each chart is composed of 5 exercises which are always performed in the same order and in the same maximum time limit, but, as you progress from chart to chart, there are slight changes in each basic exercise with a gradual demand for more effort.

A sample rating scale for Chart 3 is reproduced below and is to be used in the following way:

level caps

These are the Physical Capacity levels, each indicated by a letter of the alphabet.

exerl caps

Exercises 1, 2, 3, and 4 apply to the first four exercises described and illustrated. The column headed 1 represents exercise 1 (toe touch), etc. The figures in each column indicate the number of times that each exercise is to be repeated in the time allotted for that exercise. Exercise 5 is running on the spot. Two activities may be substituted for it, however, and if you prefer, you may run or walk the recommended distance in the required time in place of the stationary run of exercise 5.

mins each caps

The allotted time for each exercise is noted here. These times remain the same throughout all the charts. Total time for exercises 1 through 5 is 11 minutes.

chart 3 physcial capacity color jpg

NOTE:

It is important that the exercises at any level be completed in 11 minutes. However, it is likely that in the early stages, an individual will complete certain exercises in less than the allotted time while others may require longer. In these circumstances, the times allotted for individual exercises may be varied within the total 11 minute period.

How Far Should You Progress?

The level of Physical Capacity to which you should progress is determined by your “Age Group.” Levels for “Flying Crew” are listed separately. See “Your Physical Capacity Level” below.

How to Begin

Check your daily schedule and determine the time most convenient for you to do the exercises. It should be the same time each day.

Here are some suggested times:

  • Before breakfast
  • Late morning or afternoon, at your place of employment
  • After your regular recreational period
  • In the evening just before you retire

Regardless of the time you choose, START TODAY.

Maximum Rate of Progression Through Chart 1 According to Age

  • 20 years or under, at least 1 day at each level
  • 20-29 years, at least 2 days at each level
  • 30-39 years, at least 4 days at each level
  • 40-49 years, at least 7 days at each level
  • 50-59 years, at least 8 days at each level
  • 60 years and over, at least 10 days at each level

(If you feel stiff or sore, or if you are unduly breathless at any time, ease up and slow down your rate of progression. This is particularly applicable to older age groups.)

A Note of Caution

Even if you feel able to start at a high level and progress at a faster rate then indicated — DON’T DO IT — Start at the bottom of chart 1 and work your way up from level to level as recommended.

For best results from 5BX, the exercises must be done regularly. Remember, it may take you 6, 8, 10 months or more of daily exercises to attain the level recommended for you, but once you have attained it, only 3 periods of exercise per week will maintain this level of physical capacity.

If for any reason (illness, etc.) you stop doing 5BX regularly and you wish to begin again, do not recommence at the level you had attained previously.

Do drop back several levels — until you find one you can do without undue strain. After a period of inactivity of longer than two months, or one month caused by illness, it is recommended that you start again at Chart 1.

How to Progress

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Start at the lowest Physical Capacity Level of Chart 1 (D-). Repeat each exercise in the allotted time or do the 5 exercises in 11 minutes. Move upward on the same chart to the next level (D) only after you can complete all the required movements at your present level within 11 minutes. Continue to progress upward in this manner until you can complete all the required movements at level A+ within 11 minutes. Now start at the bottom of Chart 2 (D-), and continue in this fashion upwards through the levels, and from chart to chart until you reach the level for your age group.

Chart 1

chart 1 1

Feet astride, arms upward. Forward bend to floor touching then stretch upward and backward bend. Do not strain to keep knees straight.

chart 1 2

Back lying, feet 6” apart, arms at sides. Sit up just far enough to see your heels. Keep legs straight, head and shoulders must clear the floor.

chart1 3

Front lying, palms placed under the thighs. Raise head and one leg, repeat using legs alternately. Keep leg straight at the knee, thighs must clear the palms. Count one each time second leg touches floor.

chart 1 4 jpg

Front lying, hands under the shoulders, palms flat on the floor. Straighten arms lifting upper body, keeping the knees on the floor. Bend arms to lower body. Keep body straight from the knees, arms must be fully extended, chest must touch the floor to complete one movement.

chart 1 5 jpg

Stationary run. Count a step each time the left foot touches the floor. Lift feet approximately 4 inches off floor. Every 75 steps do 10 “scissor jumps.” Repeat this sequence until the required number of steps is completed.

Scissor jumps. Stand with right leg and left arm extended forward and left leg and right arm extended backward. Jump up and change position of arms and legs before landing. Repeat (arms shoulder high).

chart 1 scale jpg

Chart 2

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Feet astride, arms upward. Touch floor and press (bounce) once then stretch upward and backward bend. Do not strain to keep knees straight.

chart 2 2

Back lying, feet 6” apart, arms at sides. “Sit up” to vertical position, keep feet on floor even if it is necessary to hook them under a chair. Allow knees to bend slightly.

chart 2 3 jpg

Front lying, palms placed under thighs. Raise head, shoulders, and both legs. Keep legs straight, both thighs must clear the palms.

chart 2 4

Front lying, hands under the shoulder, palms flat on floor. Straighten arms to lift body with only palms and toes on the floor. Back straight. Chest must touch the floor for each completed movement after arms have been fully extended.

chart 2 5 jpg

Stationary run. Count a step each time left foot touches the floor. Lift feet approximately 4 inches off floor. After every 75 steps, do 10 “astride jumps.” Repeat this sequence until required number of steps is completed.

Astride jumps. Feet together, arms at side. Jump and land with feet astride and arms raised sideways to slightly above shoulder height. Return with a jump to the starting position for count of one. Keep arms straight.

chart 2 capacity 1 jpg

Chart 3

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Feet astride, arms upward. Touch floor 6” outside left foot, again between feet and press once then 6” outside right foot, bend backward as far as possible, repeat, reverse direction after half the number of counts. Do not strain to keep knees straight, return to erect position.

chart 3 2

Back lying, feet 6” apart, arms clasped behind head. Allow knees to bend slightly. Sit up to vertical position, keep feet on floor, hook feet under chair, etc., only if necessary. 

chart 3 3

Front lying, hands interlocked behind the back. Lift head, shoulders, chest and both legs as high as possible. Keep legs straight, and raise chest and both thighs completely off floor.

chart 3 4

Front lying, hands under the shoulders, palms flat on floor. Touch chin to floor in front of hands — touch forehead to floor behind hands before returning to up position. There are three definite movements, chin, forehead, arms straightened. DO NOT do in one continuous motion.

chart 3 5 jpg

Stationary run. Count a step each time left foot touches the floor. Lift feet approximately 4 inches off floor. After every 75 steps, do 10 “half knee bends.” Repeat this sequence until required number of steps is completed.

Half knee bends. Feet together, hands on hips, knees bent to form an angle of about 110 degrees. Do not bend knees past a right angle. Straighten to upright position, raising heel off floor, return to starting position each time. Keep feet in contact with floor — the back upright and straight at all times.

chart 3 physcial capacity jpg

Chart 4

chart 4 1 jpg

Feet astride, arms upward. Touch floor outside left foot, between feet, press once then outside right foot, circle bend backward as far as possible, reverse direction after half the number of counts. Do not strain to keep knees straight. Keep arms above head and make full circle, bending backward past vertical each time.

chart 4 2

Back lying, legs straight, feet together, arms straight overhead. Sit up and touch the toes keeping the arms and legs straight. Use chair to hook feet under only if necessary. Keep arms in contact with the sides of the head throughout the movement. Allow knees to bend slightly.

chart 4 3

Front lying, hands and arms stretched sideways. Lift head, shoulders, arms, chest and both legs as high as possible. Keep legs straight, raise chest and both thighs completely off floor.

chart 4 4

Front lying, palms of hands flat on floor, approximately 1 foot from ears directly to side of head. Straighten arms to lift body. Chest must touch floor for each completed movement.

chart 4 5 jpg

Stationary run. Count a step each time left foot touches the floor. Lift feet approximately 4 inches off floor. After every 75 steps, do 10 “semi-squat jumps.” Repeat this sequence until required number of steps is completed.

Semi-squat jumps. Drop to a half crouch position with hands on knees and arms straight, keep back as straight as possible, right foot slightly ahead of left. Jump to upright position with body straight and feet leaving floor. Reverse position of feet before landing. Return to half crouch position and repeat.

4 capacity jpg

Chart 5

chart 5 1 jpg

Feet astride, arms upward, hands collapsed, arms straight. Touch floor outside left foot, between feet, press once then outside right foot, circle bend backwards as far as possible. Reverse direction after half the number of counts. Do not strain to keep knees straight.

chart 5 2

Back lying, legs straight, feet together, hands clasped behind head. Sit up and raise legs in bent position at same time twist to touch right elbow to left knee. This completes one movement. Alternate the direction of twist each time. Keep feet off floor when elbow touches knee.

chart 5 3

Front lying, arms extended overhead. Raise arms, head, chest, and both legs as high as possible. Keep legs and arms straight, chest and both thighs completely off floor.

chart 5 4

Front lying, hands under the shoulder, palms flat on floor. Push off floor and clap hands before returning to starting position. Keep body straight during the entire movement. Hand clap must be heard.

chart 5 5 jpg

Stationary run. Count a step each time left foot touches floor. Lift feet approximately 4 inches off floor. After every 75 steps, do 10 “semi-spread eagle jumps.” Repeat this sequence until required number of steps is completed.

Semi-spread eagle jumps. Feet together, drop to a half crouch position hands on knees with arms straight. Jump up to feet astride swing arms overhead in mid-air, return directly to starting position on landing. Raise hands above head level, spread feet at least shoulder width apart in astride position before landing with feet together.

5 1 1 jpg

Chart 6

chart 6 1 jpg

Feet astride, arms upward, hands reverse clasped, arms straight. Touch floor outside left foot, between feet, press once then outside right foot, circle bend backwards as far as possible. Reverse direction after half the number of counts. Keep hands tightly reverse clasped at all times.

chart 6 2

Back lying, legs straight, feet together, arms straight over the head. Sit up and at the same time lifting both legs to touch the toes in a pike (V) position. Keep feet together, legs and arms straight, all of the upper back and legs clear floor, fingers touch toes each time.

chart 6 3

Front lying, arms extended over head. Raise arms, head, chest, and both legs as high as possible then press back once. Keep legs and arms straight — chest and both thighs completely off floor.

chart 6 4

Front lying, hands under shoulders, palms flat on floor. Push off floor and slap chest before returning to starting position. Keep body straight during the entire movement. Chest slap must be heard.

chart 6 5 jpg

Stationary run. Count a step each time left foot touches the floor. Lift feet approximately 4 inches off floor. After every 75 steps, do 10 “jack jumps.” Repeat this sequence until required number of steps is completed.

Jack jumps. Feet together, knees bent, sit on heels, finger tips touch floor. Jump up, raise legs waist high, keep legs straight and touch toes in midair. Keep legs straight, raise feet level to “standing waist height.” Touch toes each time.

chart 6 physical capacity jpg

Your Physical Capacity Level

Each age group is given a Physical Capacity level to attain; that is, a goal which they should try to reach.

The Physical Capacity levels in this plan are based on the expectation of average individuals. 

With every average, there are individuals who surpass it, and those who fall below it. In terms of the 5BX Plan and the goals, this means that there will be some men who are capable of progressing beyond the level indicated, and on the other hand, there will be persons who will never attain this average level. 

If you feel able to move further through the charts than your Physical Capacity level, by all means do so. If, on the contrary, you experience great difficulty in approaching this level you should stop at a level which you feel to be within your capability. It is impossible to predict accurately, a level for each individual who uses this program. Use the goals as guides, and apply them with common sense. 

Here are a few tips:

When you start, defeat the first desire to skip a day; then defeat all such desires as they occur. This exercise program has plenty of bite; the longer you do it the more you will enjoy it.

As you progress well into the program you may find certain levels impossible to complete in 11 minutes — work hard at that level — it may take some days or even weeks — then suddenly you will find yourself sailing ahead again.

Counting the steps in exercise 5 can be difficult. You can lose count very easily at times. If you have this problem, here is an easy way to overcome it. Divide the total number of steps required by 75 and note the answer—place a row of buttons, corresponding in number to this answer, on a handy table or chair. Now count off your first 75 steps—do your ten required movements—and move the first button. Repeat until all the buttons have been removed, finishing with any left over steps.

For diversity, occasionally an exercise from the previous chart may be substituted.

Wishing is not good enough.

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By: Brett & Kate McKay
Title: 5BX: The Cold War Military Workout for Getting Fit in 11 Minutes a Day
Sourced From: www.artofmanliness.com/health-fitness/5bx-the-cold-war-military-workout-for-getting-fit-in-11-minutes-a-day/
Published Date: Tue, 19 Mar 2024 14:50:42 +0000

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Mens Health

The Future of Men’s Mental Health

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Photo by drew_hays / Unsplash.com

Part 1 — Men and Mental Health, What Are We Missing?

I have been interested in men’s mental, emotional, and relational health for a long time. When I was five years old my mid-life father became increasingly irritable, angry, and depressed because he felt he couldn’t support our family, my mother and me, doing the work he loved. In desperation he took an overdose of sleeping pills to stop the pain. Fortunately, he didn’t die, but our lives were never the same. He was committed to Camarillo State Mental Hospital.

My father had been an actor in New York and moved to California with the hopes of working in the emerging movie and television industry. But like many creative artists of the period he ran into the “red scare,” was blacklisted, and couldn’t find work. His time in the mental hospital only made him worse. I grew up wondering what happened to my father, when it would happen to me, and how I could prevent it from happening to other families.

After graduating from college I was accepted into U.C. San Francisco Medical School with hopes of becoming a psychiatrist. I hoped to learn and develop the skills to help men like my father as well as the families who love them. However, medicine, at the time, was too restrictive for me and I transferred to U.C. Berkeley where I earned my Master of Social Work Degree. My initial interest focused on addiction medicine, but I soon expanded my work to include Gender-Specific Medicine and men’s health. I later returned to school and earned a PhD in International Health. My dissertation research was published as a book: Male vs. Female Depression: Why Men Act Out and Women Act In.

Following the birth of our first son, Jemal, in 1969 and daughter, Angela, in 1972, I launched MenAlive.com as my window to the world to house my books, articles, and on-line programs. I’ve had seventeen books published including international best-sellers Male Menopause and The Irritable Male Syndrome: Understanding and Managing the 4 Key Causes of Depression and Aggression, as well as trend-setting books including Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places: Overcoming Romantic and Sexual Addictions, The Warrior’s Journey Home: Healing Men, Healing the Planet, Stress Relief for Men, and Long Live Men! The Moonshot Mission to Heal Men, Close the Lifespan Gap, and Offer Hope to Humanity.

The field of gender-specific healing and men’s mental health has grown considerably since I began in 1972. I estimate that there are now at least a thousand organizations that focus on various aspects of men’s health. In 2021, I invited several colleagues who were doing great work to join me in what I called my Moonshot Mission for Mankind and Humanity. We began meeting monthly to get to know each other, share ideas, and create an on-line hub to bring individuals and organizations together to help men live fully healthy lives.

            With the help and support of one of our founding members, Joe Conrad, Founder and CEO of Man Therapy, we developed a website and introductory film at MoonshotforMankind.com.  I believe that men are both the “canaries in the coalmine” alerting us to the problems faced by humanity and also they are the key players in solving the problems that undermine the health of all. The Moonshot site shares our vision and call to connect:

“The journey to heal humanity has begun.”

Our Moonshot vision can be summarized simply:

“We believe man’s mental, emotional, and relational health is the key to empowering men to live long and well. Our mission is to help men live healthier, happier, more cooperative lives—fulfilling lives of purpose and productivity, where men are supported and valued as they make positive contributions to their families, friends, and communities. When that happens, families grow stronger, communities prosper, and humanity takes its next leap forward.”

Men and Mental Health: What Are We Missing?

            According to report by Derek M. Griffith, PhD, Ayo Ogunbiyi, MPH, and Emily Jaeger, MPH at Georgetown University’s Center for Men’s Health Equity,

Men aren’t the problem. The way that we — society as a whole and health care providers specifically — treat them is.”

In an April 2, 2024 article titled “Men and mental health: What are we missing?,” they detail a number of important issues that we often fail to address including the following:

  • It is time that primary care physicians, mental health service providers, and policymakers look critically at the accuracy and utility of their assumptions and explanations for men’s rates of depression, anxiety, burnout, substance abuse, and other common mental health conditions.
  • 40% of men with a reported mental illness received mental health care services in the past year, compared with 52% of women with a reported mental illness, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated the crisis of men’s mental health.
  • The uncertainty of the pandemic, loneliness from social distancing, financial stresses, relationship challenges, and other contextual factors contributed to increased rates of men having difficulty sleeping, alcohol and substance use, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms.
  • Traditionally, men are socialized to define their worth by their ability to contribute economically to a household. However, as the labor market has shifted away from traditionally male-dominated jobs, men must now redefine their worth outside of their employment, income, and home.
  • The notion of “precarious manhood,” which is the belief that manhood is an achieved social status that must be earned and constantly defended, means that men may feel it is their character — rather than their behavior — being judged during more tumultuous economic times.
  • Even when men seek care, that care often falls short. Data from Canada and the United States found that more than 60% of men who died by suicide had accessed mental health care services within the previous year.
  • When men do seek mental health care services, it is not uncommon for them to feel that providers mislabel and underestimate their needs, and that these providers do not seem to have a genuine interest in their problems.
  • The fact that men are diagnosed with depression at lower rates than women, despite their higher rates of suicide, substance use, and violent behavior, suggests that more could be done to improve the tools used to diagnose men with depression.
  • While some mental health care service providers may be gender sensitive and recognize the ways that aggressiveness, alcohol use, and risky behavior are part of the presenting symptoms men with depression may exhibit, there are few courses and trainings that focus on gender differences in mental health, potentially leading to mental health care service providers being less equipped to serve and offer gender-sensitive resources to men.

We need a new approach for addressing men’s mental health issues. In the second part of this series, I will address the reality that men’s mental health issues don’t just impact men. They impact everyone. If you’d like to read more articles like these, please visit me at MenAlive.com and receive our free newsletter with new articles and tools you can use to improve your mental, emotional, and relational health.

The post The Future of Men’s Mental Health appeared first on MenAlive.

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By: Jed Diamond
Title: The Future of Men’s Mental Health
Sourced From: menalive.com/the-future-of-mens-mental-health/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=the-future-of-mens-mental-health
Published Date: Wed, 17 Apr 2024 23:33:29 +0000

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Mens Health

Podcast #983: Grid-Down Medicine — A Guide for When Help Is NOT on the Way

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If you read most first aid guides, the last step in treating someone who’s gotten injured or sick is always: get the victim to professional medical help.

But what if you found yourself in a situation where hospitals were overcrowded, inaccessible, or non-functional? What if you found yourself in a grid-down, long-term disaster, and you were the highest medical resource available?

Dr. Joe Alton is an expert in what would come after the step where most first aid guides leave off. He’s a retired surgeon and the co-author of The Survival Medicine Handbook: The Essential Guide for When Help is NOT on the Way. Today on the show, Joe argues that every family should have a medical asset and how to prepare to be a civilian medic. We discuss the different levels of first aid kits to consider creating, from an individual kit all the way up to a community field hospital. And we talk about the health-related skills you might need in a long-term grid-down disaster, from burying a dead body, to closing a wound with super glue, to making an improvised dental filling, to even protecting yourself from the radiation of nuclear fallout.

Resources Related to the Podcast

  • AoM Article: How to Use a Tourniquet to Control Major Bleeding
  • AoM Article: The Complete Guide to Making a DIY First Aid Kit
  • AoM Article: How to Suture a Wound
  • AoM Article: What Every Man Should Keep in His Car
  • AoM Article: Improvised Ways to Close a Wound
  • AoM Podcast #869: The Survival Myths That Can Get You Killed With Alone Winner Jim Baird

Connect With Joe Alton

  • Doom and Bloom website
  • Doom and Bloom on YouTube
  • Doom and Bloom on FB

Cover of "the survival medicine handbook," featuring a red first aid kit on a road under a stormy sky, by Joseph Alton MD and Amy Alton APRN.

Listen to the Podcast! (And don’t forget to leave us a review!)

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Help support independent publishing. Make a donation to The Art of Manliness! Thanks for the support!

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By: Brett & Kate McKay
Title: Podcast #983: Grid-Down Medicine — A Guide for When Help Is NOT on the Way
Sourced From: www.artofmanliness.com/health-fitness/health/podcast-983-grid-down-medicine-a-guide-for-when-help-is-not-on-the-way/
Published Date: Wed, 17 Apr 2024 12:37:37 +0000

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Mens Health

How to Become Successful at the Three Essential Marriages for Achieving a Great Life

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“Human beings are creatures of belonging which we achieve through three marriages. First, through relationship with other people and other things (particularly and very personally, to one other person in relationship or marriage); second, through work; and third, through an understanding of what it means to be themselves.” David Whyte, The Three Marriages: Reimaging Work, Self and Relationship.

For more than fifty years I have helped people achieve success in all three kinds of relationships. Like many I married young. My wife and I were together for ten years and had two children before our marriage broke up. After a time of pain and healing, I fell in love again, and remarried. Looking back, I can see that one was a rebound relationship and it too ended.

Endings are painful for everyone, but when you’re a marriage and family counselor who makes his living helping fix relationships, it is not only painful, but shameful as well. I talk about it on my website, MenAlive.com in an introductory video, “Confessions of a Twice-Divorced Marriage Counselor.” Fortunately, I got my own help, worked through unhealed trauma from my past, and learned what it truly takes to have a successful marriage. My wife, Carlin, and I have been happily married for forty-four years.

            We all want a life that is happy and joyful, but how to achieve success is not often clear and easy.

“If you have to make one life choice, right now, to set yourself on the path to future health and happiness, what would it be?”

This question was asked by two world-renowned social scientists, Robert Waldinger, MD and Marc Schulz, PhD.

Dr. Waldinger is professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and director of the Harvard Study on Adult Development. Dr. Schultz is the associate director. The Harvard Study is the longest scientific study of happiness ever conducted. It began in 1938 and offers the most scientifically supported guidance for achieving a great life.

The latest findings are reported in Waldinger’s and Schulz’s book, The Good Life: Lessons From The World’s Longest Scientific Study of Happiness. In a 2007 survey, millennials were asked about their most important life goals. Seventy-six percent said that becoming rich was their number one goal. Fifty percent said a major goal was to become famous. More than a decade later, after millennials had spent more time as adults, similar questions were asked again. Fame was now lower on the list, but top goals again included things like making money, having a successful career, and becoming debt-free.

            What does the data from thousands of interviews over eighty-six years tell us? If we want a great life what is the one thing that is more important than others? The answer can be stated in three simple words: Create Good Relationships.

“In fact, good relationships are significant enough that if we had to take all eighty-six years of the Harvard Study,”

say Drs. Waldinger and Schulz,

“and boil it down to a single principle for living, one life investment that is supported by similar findings across a wide variety of other studies, it would be this:

Good Relationships keep us healthier and happier. Period.”

The Three Marriages We Must Embrace to Have a Successful Life

            In his book The Three Marriages: Reimaging Work, Self and Relationship, David Whyte says,

“Despite our use of the word “marriage” only for a committed relationship between two people, “in reality everyone is committed consciously or unconsciously to three marriages.”

            Whyte goes on to say,

“There is that first marriage, the one we usually mean, to another; that second marriage, which can so often seem like a burden, to work or vocation; and that third and most likely hidden marriage to a core conversation inside ourselves. We can call these three separate commitments marriages because at their core they are usually lifelong commitments and, as I wish to illustrate, they involve vows made either consciously or unconsciously.”

For most of my life I tried to find a balance between my work life and my love life. The truth is that I was much better at work than I was at love. It is not surprising. I had my first job when I was seven years old. My father had left when I was five, committed to a mental hospital after taking an overdose of sleeping pills because he had become increasingly stressed and depressed because he couldn’t make a living to support my mother and me.

With my father gone, my mother had to find work outside the home. We had little money beyond what was needed for the essentials, so I learned early to work for anything I truly wanted. I got good at work, but like many who grew up without a father and mother at home, what I learned about having a healthy and happy married life was minimal and I was too busy hustling for my next job success to have time to wonder about what it meant to get to know my true self.

For too many of us we feel like we are going up and down on a teeter-totter with our work and love lives competing for our attention while our personhood often gets neglected and forgotten. David Whyte offers us all a great service when he suggests this basic reality:

“Each of those marriages, is at its heart, nonnegotiable. We should give up the attempt to balance one against another, of, for instance, taking away from work to give more time to a partner, or vice versa, and start thinking of each marriage conversing with, questioning, or emboldening the other two.”

            With the framework of the three marriages, we can ask ourselves where we might need improvement. Here’s a little scale I find useful.

Captura de pantalla 2024 04 11 a las 13.42.30

How would you rate yourself in all five areas? I feel successful in all five areas, but it has been a lifelong process of healing and learning. I still have a way to go yet, like all of us. My score was 24. How about yours?

Bringing It All Together

For me, I have come to see achieving success at the three marriages as a true hero’s journey, one that lasts a lifetime. My wife, Carlin, is part Native American. In our area, there are several women who weave beautiful baskets made out of local materials that grow in nature. A well-known basket weaver described a well-made basket as a metaphor for creating a great life.

            Here’s how she describes the process.

“Our life is a basket woven from many different strands, each essential for a strong container. Each part of our life is one strand in this basket.It’s impossible to weave multiple strands at the same time; we need to attend to the strand that requires our attention without losing awareness of the others. Every strand will get our attention—just not all at the same time. I know I give attention to where I am most needed, knowing that I will then move on to the next demand. The basket holds my life as I strengthen individual strands. I’m no longer on a teeter-totter—I am weaving my life into something whole and lovely.”

When I reflect on my own life, there are times when I must focus on my wife, Carlin, knowing that there are other parts of my life that will require my attention at another time. At other times, one of our five children or seventeen grandchildren all for my attention. Yet, I can’t ever forget my work and my commitment to my calling. Running through all these “strands of my basket” is my commitment to my deepest self, getting to know who I really am and learning to love the man I am with all my flaws as well as my gifts.

I have written about how I have integrated these strands in the books I have written. If you are interested in learning about me and my work, I recommend, Inside Out: Becoming My Own Man, 12 Rules for Good Men, and Long Live Men: The Moonshot Mission to Heal Men, Close the Lifespan Gap, and Offer Hope for Humanity.

If you want to learn more about me and my relationship life, I recommend The Enlightened Marriage: The 5 Transformative Stages of Relationship and Why the Best is Still to Come, My Distant Dad: Healing the Family Father Wound, and Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places: Overcoming Romantic and Sexual Addictions.

If you would like to take one of my on-line courses, I recommend:

Navigating the 5 Stages of Love.

Healing the Irritable Male Syndrome.

Healing the Family Father Wound.

If you would like to join our mission to improve the lives of men and their families, I recommend:

The Moonshot for Mankind and Humanity.

If you would like to do individual or couple counseling with me, drop me a note at Jed@MenAlive.com and put “Counseling” in the subject line. I will send you the information. If you would like to receive my free weekly newsletter with updates and new articles, you can sign up here.

The post How to Become Successful at the Three Essential Marriages for Achieving a Great Life appeared first on MenAlive.

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By: Jed Diamond
Title: How to Become Successful at the Three Essential Marriages for Achieving a Great Life
Sourced From: menalive.com/how-to-become-successful-at-the-three-essential-marriages/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=how-to-become-successful-at-the-three-essential-marriages
Published Date: Thu, 11 Apr 2024 20:02:04 +0000

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