You might know that we are most of the way through International Men’s Health Week (13 to 19 June).
The 2016 theme is setting goals and taking action to reduce the stresses in your life. Being a happier man is one of the positive results.
A week ago, when I started planning what to post here about IMHW I was creating the sort of ‘How To’ information which could lead to less stressful living. It helps that 7 days ago I was also creating visuals, like the one above, as part of a Carers Week workshop on Experiencing Greater Happiness..
The workshop highlighted the close relationship between happiness and empathy, well-being Mindfulness and other healthier living ideas.
As I say that was the content I had planned.
Something changed over the weekend though.
What Can Happen When Empathy Is Missing?
Over the weekend a mentally troubled man decided to drive for an hour across Florida from his home to his destination and commit mass murder. This wasn’t a spur of the moment thing. He had armed himself with an assault rifle and a handgun.
His crime scene was the Pulse Bar (a venue which serves Orlando’s ethnically diverse Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Trans and progressive straight communities). On the weekend it was full of people living life, enjoying liberty and pursuing happiness. Free to do so during Pride Month or any other time.
The shooter took advantage of that freedom.
He shot his way in, stalking the people he didn’t cut down immediately and holding some hostage. Ultimately he killed 49 people. His spree also led to 53 more clubbers being hospitalised.
Now every partner, sibling, parent and friend of the dead and injured will spend the rest of their lives living with the pain he inflicted.
How Men Can Use Empathy
A few days has made a big difference to my sense of what ‘men’s health’ means.
From wanting to talk about the simple goal of happiness for men I end up talking about big ideas like empathy, well-being, connection and care.
We need to work on solutions for men – straight, bi, gay, queer, questioning men – so that we are better able to manage our inner state and our relationships with the world.
In the days ahead it is important we do what we can to connect to and care for each other a bit more than usual.
We can all use empathy to better understand what is happening in other people’s lives and how they might be feeling.
In particular, if you feel there is someone close to you who seems overwhelmed take time to check in with him. That’s really important since (Breaking News) men don’t always volunteer information about ‘feelings’.
So fellas, try empathy. Simply asking your mate, your brother, your partner ‘How Are You’, then listening to the tone of the answer and supporting them through tough times can make all the difference.
How Will You Make A Difference?
Thanks for reading this post on the challenges facing men. How will you act differently now? As I finalised these words the discussion over the murder of British Parliamentarian Jo Cox – and the disconnected background of the suspect – is ringing in my ears.
Something has to change.
Feel free to share this post with anyone who would find it useful. I am on Twitter @RogerD_Said if you want to comment on the themes I mentioned.