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Who am I supposed to be?

What am I supposed to do with my life?

These are existential questions that individuals ask themselves throughout their lives. And while they consume a lot of mental bandwidth in your 20s as you take your first steps into adulthood, they still haunt you in your 30s, 40s, 50s, and even 60s, though the tenor of your reflection changes over time. As you get older, you worry less about what you should do with your life, and start worrying more about whether you’ve lived your life right.

There’s a philosopher who spent a lot of time thinking about this existential angst that’s struck many a man as he stands in a grocery store line or lies in bed at night; in fact, he’s the thinker who’s credited with fleshing out the whole idea of existential angst.

I’m talking about none other than Soren Kierkegaard.

Kierkegaard was a philosopher with some truly keen insights into the human condition, particularly regarding what it means to be a “self.” In his book The Sickness Unto Death, Kierkegaard unfolds his idea of what it means to be a self, the emotions and attitudes we can take towards the self, and why we often feel so anxious about what we’re supposed to do with our lives or who we are to become.

Kierkegaard isn’t the most straightforward writer. There are times when I read his stuff, and I want to throw the book across the room because I have no clue what he’s trying to get at. But when you finally realize what he’s saying about the self and our relation to the self, it fundamentally changes the way you think about your own life.

The modern thinker who helped me finally understand and appreciate Kierkegaard’s idea of the self is philosophy professor Gordon Marino. In his book, The Existentialist’s Survival Guide, Marino gives a simplified, accessible explanation of what Kierkegaard was trying to say in The Sickness Unto Death.

Below I share Marino’s outline of Kierkeegaard’s concept of the self. It’s given me a lot to ponder on. Maybe it will do the same for you.

Kierkegaard’s Three Selves

According to Marino, Kierkegaard would say that our identity is made up of three selves: our concrete self, our ideal self, and our true self:

The Concrete Self. The concrete self is who we are now. Maybe, for example, you’re a dude who lives in Ohio, owns a restaurant, has a wife and two kids, likes cycling, and has a generous heart but struggles with anger.

The Ideal Self. The ideal self is the self you want to be. You want to be a millionaire. You want to be 20 pounds lighter. You want to be an Ironman. You want to be calmer. You want to be a man who has it together. These are all versions of your ideal self.

The True Self. The true self is the self God wants you to be, or in Kierkegaard’s words, the true self is the self “rested transparently in God.”

While Kierkegaard’s conception of the true self is strongly influenced by his Christian faith, Marino argues that it can equally apply to non-believers. He says it’s possible to think of your true self as your moral ideal. Or, as Catholic priest Fr. James Martin puts it, your true self is your “best self.”

Your true self transcends the egocentricity of the ideal self. It’s not about what you want; it’s about what the transcendent wants for you and accepting it. It’s moving from asking, “What is the world asking of me?” to asking, “What is my soul asking of me?” Which can be a scary shift. Becoming your true self often requires a leap of faith, which Kierkegaard discusses in detail in his book Fear and Trembling. But that’s a subject for another time.

What Is Despair?

So according to our philosopher friend Soren, our seemingly singular self is really made up of three selves.

He then describes the state of a person who cannot obtain their ideal self or true self.

He calls it despair. And Kierkegaard being Kierkegaard, his concept of despair is nuanced and multifaceted.

We often think of despair as an emotion. Like you’re really sad and just want to lie in your bed with your blinds closed while listening to Snow Patrol. And for Kierkegaard, despair could definitely elicit those emotions.

But according to Marino, it’s better to think of despair as a state of the self. As we’ll see here in a bit, it’s possible

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Sunday Firesides. Sometimes the Critic Counts



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“It is not the critic who counts.”

If this line from Theodore Roosevelt’s famous “Man in the Arena” speech is taken to mean that the individual who takes action has far greater worth than he who merely casts stones from the sidelines, then it can be adopted as an unassailable truth.

If, however, it’s taken to mean you should never listen to your critics, then it’s a mantra that cannot be universally applied.

T.R., after all, was a critic himself, and when he called individuals “fragrant man swine,” “little emasculated masses of inanity,” and “beings who belong to the cult of non-virility” — you can bet he wanted to be listened to (and probably should have been).

While adopting a blanket “f**k the haters” mindset may anesthetize the pain of receiving negative feedback, it comes at the cost of two key things:

First, you surrender a potentially helpful perspective.

We’d all do well to heed our inner voice and scorecard over that of the crowd. But we can lose track of that voice or allow ego to convince us we’re doing a better job than we are, and it can take an external observer to point that out.

Second, you forfeit — at least if you apply the “never listen to critics” standard with integrity/consistency — the right to be heard yourself.

Because if people shouldn’t listen to anyone else’s opinions, they shouldn’t listen to yours, either.

Little credit belongs to the masses of heckling, grandstand-riding spectators, who nine times out of ten, have nothing valuable to say. But to avoid developing what Teddy called “a mind that functions at six guinea-pig power,” it’s wise to recognize that sometimes the critic can count: when he’s someone you respect; when he’s someone who also has skin in the game; when he’s someone who’s got, well, a point.

The post Sunday Firesides: Sometimes, the Critic Counts appeared first on The Art of Manliness.

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How to Diagnose and Treat Heat Stroke & Heat Exhaustion



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It’s been freaking hot around the world this summer. Here in Oklahoma we’ve had more than a dozen days in July alone with temperatures over 100 degrees. 

The chances of suffering a heat-related illness like heat exhaustion and heat stroke go up during extreme heat. According to the CDC, between 2004 and 2018, an average of 702 people died annually from heat-related causes, and thousands more ended up in the hospital. Small children and adults over 65 are most susceptible to heat-related illness. However, it can hit anyone who works or exercises vigorously in the heat. In fact, heat stroke is one of the three most common killers of soldiers and athletes in training. 

Below we share how to recognize heat exhaustion and heat stroke and what to do to treat both conditions. 

How to Recognize & Treat Heat Exhaustion 

Heat Exhaustion Symptoms

Heat exhaustion occurs when your body can no longer cool itself down through sweating due to a loss of water and electrolytes. Heat exhaustion needs to be treated as soon as you recognize it in yourself or others. Left untreated, it can develop into its more severe sibling: heat stroke.

Symptoms of heat exhaustion include: 

Heavy sweatingCold, pale, and clammy skinFast, weak pulseNausea or vomitingMuscle crampsTiredness or weaknessDizzinessHeadacheBrief fainting (passing out)

How to Treat Heat Exhaustion

The goal of treating heat exhaustion is to cool the sufferer down and restore their fluids.

Move to a cool room. If you don’t have access to an air-conditioned room, at least move to a shady spot.Take a cold shower or bath. If that’s not possible, drape (do not tightly wrap — this will trap heat) cool, wet towels/cloths on the body. Turn a fan on these towels if you can. Remove extra clothing.Sip cool fluids, like water and Gatorade.

If heat exhaustion symptoms continue for an hour despite your treatment, seek professional medical assistance.

How to Recognize & Treat Heat Exhaustion 

Heat Stroke Symptoms

Heat stroke is the most serious of heat-related illnesses. With heat stroke, the body has lost its ability to cool itself down, resulting in a dangerously high internal body temperature (above 104 degrees Fahrenheit). High internal body temperature is potentially life-threatening as it can cause seizures, organ failure, and rhabdomyolysis. Even if you recover from heat stroke, you can still suffer long-term damage to your heart, brain (creating cognitive deficiencies), kidneys (requiring lifelong dialysis or a transplant), and liver (also requiring a transplant). Heat stroke victims often die months after they’ve “recovered.”

To guide me on the intricacies of identifying and treating heat stroke, I talked to Dr. Sean Langan, a research assistant at the Korey Stringer Institute at the University of Connecticut. The Korey Stringer Institute specializes in research in preventing heat stroke deaths among athletes. 

Heat stroke symptoms include: 

Central nervous system (CNS) dysfunction:ConfusionAggression/agitation (Dr. Langan says you frequently see heat stroke victims bite and punch people)DizzinessFaintingSeizuresVery high body temperature (104 degrees F or higher)Red, hot, dry skin (no sweating). Sean notes that you rarely see dry skin in people with exertional heat stroke (caused by exercising or working in the heat). Those exerting themselves in the heat may still be sweaty, and you’ll need to be on the lookout for other symptoms, particularly CNS dysfunction.Throbbing headacheNausea/vomitingRapid breathingRapid pulse

According to Dr. Langan, the critical heat stroke symptom to be on the lookout for is CNS dysfunction:

You can have really fit people who have an internal body temperature of 104 degrees Fahrenheit at the end of a marathon who are fine. Their body is adapted to having that high of an internal temp so they don’t have any CNS dysfunction and they cool down quickly after they finish their race. 

You can also have someone who has an internal body temperature of 103, but they’re experiencing CNS dysfunction. This person has heat stroke and needs to be treated. 

If you see someone who’s been in the heat who’s showing signs of CNS dysfunction, your best bet is to start treating that person for heat stroke. To confirm, take their temperature with a rectal thermometer (it will give you the most accurate reading)

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Podcast #678 Physical Benchmarks Every man should meet at every age



As men, we all want to be physically capable. We want to be able to save our own life in two ways: in the more metaphorical sense of wanting to preserve it in healthy, fit form for as long as possible, and in the more literal sense of being able to make it through an emergency unscathed. How do you know if you do possess that kind of lifesaving physical capability?

It’s time to do more than wonder, and really check in with yourself. My guest today has some helpful benchmarks that guys from age 8 to 80 can use to see if they’ve got an operative level of strength, mobility, and conditioning. His name is Dan John, and he’s a strength coach and the author of numerous books and articles on health and fitness. Dan walks us through the fitness standards the average male should be able to meet from childhood to old age, beginning with the assessments he gives to those who are 55 years old and older, which includes carrying their body weight, a long jump, and something called “the toilet test.” We then reach back to childhood, and Dan discusses the physical skills kids should become adept in, which were inspired by a turn-of-the-20th-century physical culturist who thought every individual ought to be able to save his own life, and which can be broken down into the categories of pursuit, escape, and attack. We end our conversation with the physical standards those in the 18-55 range should be able to meet, including how much a man should be able to bench press, squat, and deadlift, and the walking test that’s an excellent assessment of your cardiovascular conditioning.

My first and second interview with Dan“10 Things Every Lifter Should Be Able to Do”AoM Article: Don’t Just Lift Heavy, Carry HeavyAoM Article: Take the Simple Test That Can Predict Your MortalityAoM Article: The 10 Physical Skills Every Man Should MasterAoM Podcast #663: How to Achieve Physical AutonomyAoM Article: The History of Physical FitnessAoM Article: Every Man Should Be Able to Save His Own LifeAoM Article: 12 Balance Exercises You Can Do on a 2×4Shaker PlateAoM Podcast #508: Break Out of Your Cage and Stop Being a Human Zoo Animal

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Brett McKay: Brett McKay here, and welcome to another edition of The Art of Manliness podcast. As men, we all want to be physically capable. We wanna be able to save our life in two ways. First in the more metaphorical sense of wanting to preserve it in a healthy fit form for as long as possible. And second, in the more literal sense of being able to make it through an emergency unscathed. How do you know if you possess that kind of life-saving physical capability?

Well, it’s time to do more than wonder and really check in with yourself, and my guest today has some helpful benchmarks that guys from ages eight to 80 can use to see if they’ve got an operative level of strength, mobility, and conditioning. His name is Dan John. He’s a strength coach and the author of numerous books and articles on health and fitness.

Today on the show, Dan walks us through the fitness standards the average male should be able to meet

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