Fight Depression By Hugging More Men

You probably don’t have enough fucking friends. Because that’s just what happens when you get older right? 1 in 10 people in the UK said they didn’t have a single close friend.

“People grow apart. Life happens. You get married and have kids.”

These are excuses, not reasons. Everyone is capable of maintaining at least 1-3 friendships, providing you prioritise it. But why bother?

Without a circle of close friends, even if it’s just 2 or 3 close friends, your mental health is significantly at risk. If you’ve ready anything I’ve ever written, watched me on youtube or heard me speak at an event, nothing is more important than your mental health!

And the problem of close friends in particular seems to be a mostly male issue – 81% of women would describe their friendships as good or very good compared with only 73% of men.

So why do so many men have a problem with making, and maintaining, close friendships? Why are guys less likely to have intimate (I’m not talking about sexual or romantic) relationships with men compared to women? And how do men build intimate relationships vs. more casual friendships?

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Balancing self-acceptance vs. self-improvement

One of the running themes throughout How To Become A Modern Viking is that of self-acceptance versus self-improvement. I faced many demons in myself, and my journey towards discovering my inner warrior involved a combination of both facing these demons and accepting every one of them, and also in recognising areas that needed building upon and improving.

Each of these could not exist without the other – it’s impossible to know which areas need improving without first accepting who we are, and likewise, we cannot honestly accept who we are without first providing the hope that once we see these qualities and flaws, we will have a strategy in-place to improve them.

Self-acceptance is possibly the strongest foundation for happiness – mostly because the source of so much unhappiness comes from judging ourselves. If we are overweight, struggle with infidelity, we are lazy or don’t have much money, we can quickly judge ourselves negatively and create a feeling of shame.

Shame is such a destructive emotion – particularly if you are prone to depression, shame can sink you into a hole that can take months or years to climb out of.

The only way to conquer shame, in my experience (and forgive how much of a hippie I may sound when I say this)…. is with love.

Love is the only thing that can defeat shame.

We need to feel the love from others without a doubt, but there may be a time (as I experienced) where you are truly alone and the only person available to provide the love you need to defeat your shame is you. Even in a world of social media and smartphones, geographically or just because you were a major asshole, you can find yourself completely and literally alone.

You need to figure out how to start loving yourself again so that you can crush the shame, but you can only do this if you honestly accept who you really are, good and bad.

Self-love starts with self-acceptance.

Once you can start to look at yourself honestly and find love and joy and strength in all areas of your character, you can eliminate the shame. I wont lie – not every flaw can be turned around into a strength easily. But you can at least accept the flaws and lose the shame of them.

Don’t confuse guilt with shame. Guilt allows us to feel regret for a time when we made a mistake. We can learn from guilt. But shame is purely the shitty emotion of feeling bad about who we are.

Guilt is useful – it shows us areas we can improve. Shame is just a shitty emotion.

Trying to improve too early means you are building on shallow promises. As an example, I wrote a lot about Confidence in Modern Viking because it is the primary source of getting the most happiness out of social experiences. And I desperately wanted to be happy again.

I personally struggled, as do most people, on striking the balance between faking confidence and genuine confidence (especially in new situations). After studying it deeper, both practically as I explore a new career and also academically as I write more about self-improvement, I’ve realised that it’s impossible to have any genuine confidence in new situations without self-acceptance.

So many guides and online blog posts told me to simply “Fake it until you make it”, but that never worked for me.

However, after I had trained my mindset to accept all of my flaws, all of my weaknesses, all of my strengths and all of my positive values (along with using rational logic to calm my irrational and emotional cognitive biases) then I could start to feel genuine confidence in situations where I had no real competence. I became confident about who I was, and just importantly, who I wasn’t. I lost any empty longings or desires to be fake.

Self-acceptance and self-love is the first step.

I started to enjoy who I was – something I hadn’t felt in a long time. Once I had achieved this genuine place of peace and love within myself (even though to the outside world I looked exactly the same and was in exactly the same situation), only then could I start thinking about improving myself…

Self-improvement is often described as a journey, not a destination. While I agree with this sentiment, I actually created my own concept of self-improvement based upon a very specific destination: I wanted to become a Modern Viking!

Anyone who read the 1996 Novel ‘Fight Club’ by Chuck Palahniuk or watched the 1999 movie adaptation will know the infamy of Tyler Durden. The rebellious and extroverted alter-ego played by Brad Pitt plays both the protagonist and antagonist, created as a fictional mechanism to allow an introverted materialistic loser achieve a deeper sense of self-acceptance. While his characters ending of terrorism and attempted suicide is far from aspirational, the storyline provided inspiration for I might create my own warrior archetype at a time when I felt like I needed to break out of myself.

By deciding who I wanted to become, it became easier to envision how that person would act, how they would talk in social situations, what they would look like, how they would approach a new career, how they would find love…etc.

I created a fairly fixed destination for my own self-improvement, and I had already begun the very uncomfortable but extremely enlightening process of self-acceptance and then self-love.

By finally knowing where I was, and where I wanted to be, I could create a map of the journey, complete with milestones markers and ambitions for all the sights to enjoy along the way!

There would be the first benchpress of 100kg. The first time I saw my abs again. The first woman I would kiss again. The first time I would hold £1,000 in my hands again. The first time I would see £10,000 in my bank account again. The first time I would sign a book for someone. The first time I would appear on TV…. etc.

Journalling these thoughts and strategies eventually became the book, How To Become A Modern Viking.

The risk with pushing for self-improvement and the argument of most hippies is that it creates a feeling that you are not good enough, that in some way you are not worthy until you meet those goals.

This can be a very real and very dangerous effect – take a look at many bodybuilders or runway models and you can see the serious health impacts of body dysmorphia. Stroll around the coffee shops of your nearest financial district and you’ll find suits literally killing themselves with stress and worry at the debilitating fear of not making a $1million bonus this Christmas.

These people will struggle to find happiness because they weren’t honest and accepting of who they were to start with.

But the way to prevent this is by first being truly honest with self-acceptance and self-love. Only if you love who are you, can you love who you might become.

Stay Strong.

p.s. One area of self-acceptance I came to terms with was my love of cursing when I write passionately. With this in mind, the recent update to my book includes an “Explicit Content” warning on the cover. I hope this will help prevent the shock and surprise from people who discover 101 uses of the word “Fuck” or 47 uses of “Shit”, just to name a few.

You can get the latest update now which also includes some chapter re-writes, including more up-to-date nutritional theory. It’s not a whole new edition so if you already own a copy, it’s not necessary, but if you haven’t purchased yet, now is the time!

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Donald Trump Read My Book & Used It To Win The Election

Donald Trump may be viewed in the media as the “man who will destroy America” and Twitter may have lit ablaze with the hashtag #RIPAmerica, but I want to suggest a totally different opinion of the newest President of the United States Of America:

That he has behaved exactly like a Modern Viking would, and I believe he was inspired by my book.

I’m not a politics graduate, economics graduate or an expert in US state affairs (other than living in California for a year and constantly living in fear of getting sick – seriously guys, no nationalized healthcare? WTF how dumb can you get?). However, what I am an expert in, is recognizing strong and respected leaders.

However, what I am an expert in, is recognizing strong and respected leaders.

Whether you are left or right, and if you like the man or not, for a second just dig deep and be honest with yourself:

Do you believe Trump has demonstrated strength? Conviction? Ambition? A willingness to do and say what others are not?

What do you want from a leader – do you want him to kiss babies and say Yes to everyone’s demands, or do you want him to be a real guy who just woke up and said “Fuck it, I’m going to be President!” and then he had the balls, strategy, and determination to make that happen?

Who would you want as a leader if the galaxy was really, really fucked up and it needed some serious fixing – Darth Vader or Princess Leia?

I don’t know if Trump really has a copy of my book, How To Become A Modern Viking, on his office desk. I’m going to assume an optimistic “maybe“. But let me map out a few points, as I see them, why Trump is almost definitely a secret follower of the Modern Viking movement.

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Protecting Your Mental Health When Injured

My physical training has been the single biggest ally in fighting my mental health issues (namely, depression). This is a recommendation I’m not afraid to personally endorse to men again and again, but I can also backup with multiple medical studies.

It’s also the backbone for my #1 Bestselling Book in Men’s Health.

Any reader of my book will be able to read between the lines of many chapters and see a man constantly at war with his own mental health. And this is not a war to be taken lightly – when the biggest killer of men under 45 in the UK is suicide, and 42% of men in the UK have suffered with depression.

42 fucking percent. That’s pretty much half of all the men reading this, have already, or will at some point, suffer with depression.

So I put quite a bit of weight to my words when I say that I strongly believe a rigid and regular exercise program helps my mental health and it can help yours too. The routine and the testosterone boost are vital to my mental health as a man.

….so what happens when you get an injury from training, and then you can’t hit the gym in the same way anymore?

Cue 2 deep hernias in my lower abdomen (with a testicular cancer scare thrown in for good measure – but that ended up being nothing more than a week of worrying my ass off).

The prognosis? No deadlifts. No squats. No Benchpress. No gym…. What the fuck would I do!?

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Do Real Men Play Pokemon Go?

I’m trying to get to the gym to complete back day – my favourite day. It’s one of the few days where I can (at least moderately) keep up with my gym buddy, Amos. He’s roughly the same height as me, but with over 10 years of bodybuilding under his belt, he typically outlifts me by 50% or more. But the deadlift is my strongest lift, so today he better bring his A-game!

But as we walk to the gym on a surprisingly sunny British day and chat about how amazing this workout is going to be, my excitement is constantly delayed… because every few minutes, Amos wants to catch Pokemon

… yes, Dr. Amos Ogun, fully grown man, bodybuilder, and junior surgeon, wants to play Pokemon Go.

Standing in the middle of the street, holding his phone up fixated on a bright pink creature that is only visible to him through the lens of his iPhone, furiously swiping on his screen until the creature submits to him.

What the hell is going on?

I want to laugh, but I’m also irritated. Should I be ripping into my gym buddy? Is he, and the millions of men like him, demonstrating poor masculinity by playing Pokemon Go?

Is it a game for girls? For children? For low-value males?

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Where You Invest, Tells The World Who You Are

Are you the Lord Of War riding into battle in glorious chainmail, thoroughly polished with sand and vinegar to ensure it gleams in the sun for all of your enemies, and allies, to see?

Is your plate-mail forged in the finest smiths in the City?  Is your long sword of the best Frankish steel, it’s lethality in battle honoured by the thousands of hours you have practiced with it?

Do you ride on a battle-trained Destrier, standing a head above all other steeds yet responsive to the lightest steering-touch of your knee?

Who has the biggest impact on the battlefield – this Lord Of War, standing in all his finery and well trained in the art of killing?

Or the solder a few paces away, with a tattered boiled leather jerkin on his back and a heavily notched and rusted blade in his hand, who has repeatedly spent his weekends drinking and whoring while the other men ran sword drills in the training fields?

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The Power Of Fuck

The title of one of my upcoming books has the word “Fuck” in it. Unsurprisingly, most of the early conversations I’ve had with publishers have come up rather abruptly on this word quicker than a thirsty berserker on a blonde maiden.

The word Fuck is undoubtedly taboo in Western society, and in my opinion, quite beautifully so.

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Fuck Anxiety: Stop Asking What And Start Asking Why

I was having dinner with one of my closest brothers earlier in the week. The restaurant he took me to (he’s a London native and knows the land better than I) was extremely popular and highly reviewed, but we were surprisingly able to get a walk in. In fact, the place was only at 25% capacity.

He apologised and said the place was usually much more crowded and he assured me it was a great restaurant, but when I told him I much prefer quieter places now anyway, he was shocked.

“This is London, you’re here for the crowds and the hustle! And you love clubs!”

But I explained how recently, when I’m in crowded places, I seem to have developped “Shrek Syndrome”. I knock people over, I spill peoples drinks, last week a woman literally walked face-first into my shoulder and almost knocked herself out. I’m basically a clumsy Viking without a battlefield.

This particular brother of mine is a Psychology graduate and loves to discuss Mindset topics as much as I love to write and teach about them, so naturally, we dove into this further.

Here’s the problem – I was at the very beginning of creating a new anxiety, one that if I wasn’t careful, could become deeply rooted. An irrational worry about being too cumbersome and clumsy for busy crowds.

And as I discuss in my book, when you allow low self-esteem, low confidence, or anxieties and fears to control you, you lose the opportunity to experience life, love and adventure!

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When The Women Are Too Willing

One of the most popular myths about Viking raids was their love for enjoying their female plunder. Biased perhaps when all accounts of your raids are written by the sore losers, but we do know the Vikings participated in slave trade and we also know that, unfortunately like every ancient (and some modern) army invasions, raging testosterone made most conquering armies lose their minds a little.

Fortunately, adopting a Modern Viking mindset and understanding what that could mean as a guide to self improvement as a man, is not always a literal path.

I embarked on a new Viking raid myself last week, changing location from Barcelona, Spain to London, England. If I’m being honest, as a Modern Viking I made the decision to go raiding for pretty classic Viking: new wealth, new experiences, new lands and perhaps, new women!

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Only The Gods Know: How To Stop Worrying

Vikings were blessed with a freedom from worry and anxiety because of their mindset on fate. Emboldened by their religious beliefs and driven by a desire to enjoy the theatre of life, they were able to release themselves from the stress and unhappiness of worrying over choices because a large part of their destiny was already being written by someone else.

Because the Vikings believed that the fate/destiny, or urðr, of every man was already decided (in a fairly solid but still somewhat malleable way).

They believed that the 3 Norns (diving beings) sat beneath the roots of Yggdrasil, the tree of life. There, they weaved the threads of each man’s life. Urðr (fate), Verðandi (present) and Skuld (future) would record the knowledge and destiny of every man and God. They and they alone held the knowledge of the world and the knowledge of fate because they saw everything, everything that could come to pass and everything that would come to pass.

Well, until Odin half killed himself to also earn some of that knowledge too!

When a Viking charged into an enemies shield wall, or he decided whether to join a Viking campaign to England or to Frankia, he knew that he needn’t worry about making the incorrect choice. There was no correct or incorrect choice – only the Gods knew for sure. So his only role in life was to throw himself at the situation with all that he had, all that his skills and training allowed him to, and to enjoy the journey of life in this world before his journey would take him to Valhalla.

Vikings embraced the idea that a man can only know so much about his destiny, and the possibilities of each branch of choice he made. He embraced that he held a measure of free will over his destiny, but he also accepted that the Gods forged part of his fate too. His best choice was to make the very best of every story that the Norns weaved into his life.

Here’s how you can be inspired by our Viking ancestors and release yourself from a worrying situation by remembering that Only The Gods Know.

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