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On Life, Love and the Pursuit of Happiness

The Guys' Guy's Guide to Thanksgiving

Robert Manni - Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Why am I thankful that my ex broke up with me?

Life is a trickster. It always seems like it’s running two steps ahead. By the time we catch up and process what’s happened, it’s already off making more mischief that we don’t understand. That’s why along with the great food and family sharing, Thanksgiving is a great time to take a half step back to review our lives and be thankful for all of our experiences. The trick is finding the lesson to be learned from what is happening in our lives.

Getting back to the headline, no one likes being dumped. And like most guys, I’ve been dumped a number of times. At the time it seemed like my world was crashing down. But now, although I wish nothing but the best for all of my ex-girlfriends, I’m glad that they are my ex’s. Over time I realized that there was a missing component in each and every one of these relationships. Should either of us have known about this missing link and moved on sooner? Probably, but we didn’t.  We shared some good times and hopefully learned something about ourselves from our time together. I’m sure you have been there and I know it can be daunting for the heart to look into the endless abyss. But there is a reason for hope. That reason is you. 

Okay, it took me an extra decade or two, but I stayed focused and optimistic and continued to work on myself to be a better partner and a better man. I remain a work in progress, but things are coming together and I’ve never been happier. I’m very appreciative this Thanksgiving and accountable for my choices. And, I’m alive and have a new opportunity each and every day. That’s all I can ask for.

Here are a few reasons live in a state of constant appreciation.

No one else can make you happy.
Happiness comes from within. I think you’d agree that it is difficult to love another if you do not first love who and what you are. At times this is easier said than done, but it’s sagely advice that we’ve all heard a thousand times. And, it’s true. Loving yourself does not mean being selfish, but knowing who you are and what you are makes a difference in how you celebrate each day. We are all one consciousness.

Letting go can give you a better handle on your life.
Sometimes a setback can be a step forward. Living in New York is a trip. There are so many super-intelligent, talented, and successful individuals here, yet many of them walk around looking quite displeased. You can see it in their faces. People invest a lot of their energy trying to control every aspect of their experience. Although we are responsible for our actions, we cannot control everything that happens to us. We all know that shit happens. If you loosen up that death grip on your day-to-day world, you’ll probably be in a better position to shake off and move on from the setbacks that inevitably occur. Maybe you didn’t get that guy you thought was right for you, but you ended up with another dude that suits you far better. Or you are blessed with the time to get to know yourself better. When we can relax and have faith in ourselves things work out for us in a way that allows us to grow. If you’re not feeling it, try digging down deep to find what you need to learn. It’s there for you if you can let go, quiet your mind, and ask for it. And when you get that insight, be thankful and keep moving.

Make every day Thanksgiving.
Everyone has to do what works for them. I’m no Dr. Phil, but I’ve found that when I begin each day in a state of appreciation and end each night the same way, I feel blessed and sleep like a baby. We all have to find our own methods and path, but being thankful works for me.

I thank you all for being in my life and for the lessons our connection is bringing forward.  Have a great, restful weekend. I’ll be back at you with more Guy’s Guy musings next week.   

What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving?

The Guys' Guy's Post-Election Guide to Managing Your Friendships, and Social Media

Robert Manni - Tuesday, November 15, 2016

More shocking than the host of Celebrity Apprentice becoming our 45th President-elect has been the hate and vitriol spewed between so many friends who supported different candidates this recent election.

As you know things have gotten personal and real nasty. The levels of hate and toxicity have been surprising and it’s saddening that things have come to this in our great (yeah, it’s still great) country. 

Who out there hasn’t been taken aback by the sheer anger and bile projected by our friends, countrymen, and fellow patriots at one other? Those who voted for Trump ask others to give him a chance before jumping down his throat. The HRC supporters respond and say how can we, when it was it was Trump who started and then fanned the fires with his inflammatory comments throughout the campaign? His early picks for key positions that include members of his immediate family and Republican insiders—how is this draining the swamp?

Many people are afraid of the early signs of backlash from the Trump victory by his fervent supporters, including racial slurs and swastikas slapped onto public buildings. Others point to Clinton’s cronyism and the screwing over of Bernie Sanders as proof that she really was Crooked Hillary. A match between Bernie and Trump may have been more interesting and might have yielded different results, but that’s not what we got. Instead we had six months of WWE style putdowns, slanders, and nastiness that either embarrassed, enraged, or galvanized supporters for these two flawed candidates.

How did this happen? For months, and even after the Wikileaks emails surfaced, it looked like Hillary had the election in the bag. But the pundits were wrong. They were so, so wrong. The polls and the TV talking heads either misread or weren’t paying attention to the pent up anger that spread not only through Middle America, but also resonated with a surprising number of women, blacks, and Latinos, all voting for Trump. It’s amazing, but true. So let’s agree that people were fed up, and now here we are. A country more divided after the election.

Social media, and Facebook in particular, have become war zones. Friends, friends of friends, and trolls continue the diatribe of incendiary and often highly personal remarks about their fellow Americans. Disgusting democrats, racist Republicans, Nazis, and rapists are just a sample of the descriptions I’ve witnessed today on my FB feed. And I, too, was sucked into the fray early on and may have tossed a few verbal bombs as well, especially towards friends who seemed out of touch. The bottom line is that many voters are going to be in for a major surprise, especially for those in the lower income levels who need positive change and a bit of luck. It’s still early, but unlike Brexit, I have not seen any buyers’ remorse by Trump supporters. In fact, most of them are either gloating or doubling down on the “whiny loser” rhetoric. Clinton supporters have refused to take a “wait and see” approach, but this only leads to more frustration as we are going to experience change whether we like it or not.  To be fair, Trump won, and his supporters were really, really pissed off and many didn’t expect to win. But after the celebratory mood quiets down, I suggest they fasten their seat belts because it’s going to be a bumpy ride. Many who hate the costs of Obamacare will find themselves on the short end of the stick when it comes to healthcare and rising costs from private sources, which was why we got Obamacare in the first place. The bottom line is that it’s going to get ugly and to survive as a nation we collectively need to stay peaceful, focused and educate ourselves about the positions and policies that we’re about to face. 

So what’s a Guy’s Guy to do? I suggest first taking stock and then taking action as warranted. To the protestors, you have the right to assemble and make our voices heard. Trump urged revolts when Obama won in 2012, so we have to be fair about that. Are some of these bused-in, paid supporters? Maybe. If so, it’s not a good thing, but do we get truth from the media anymore? Let’s face it—the mainstream media outlets are partisan. And most of the crap reported on the internet is mostly just that, crap. But, lots of people believe what they want to believe and that is not going to change. So here’s what I suggest:

1. Don’t attack what you hate. Promote what you love. Whether that means protesting, marching or joining a group that seeks to advocate transparency or make positive change, make sure that it is built on love, not just fear.

2. Block nasty strangers and snarky trolls on social media. People get whisky muscles on social media and, as you may have noticed, there are a lot of jerks on the internet. So unless you feel like wasting your time arguing with people who love to drag a spirited discussion into the gutter, the most effective way to deal with their bullshit is to simply block them. End of story.

3. If you have to, UNFRIEND people who are toxic. If they really are your friends in the offline world, they most likely won’t fall into this category. But, if offline friends become impossible and copy you on endless threads of hateful emails, rethink that friendship.  Whatever you do, don’t respond to those emails, especially if you’re being baited and if members of their CC list expose strong and divergent opinions from yours. Ask yourself if that person is really your friend and the kind of dude you want in your life now.

I’m not pointing a finger solely at Trump supporters. They have a right to celebrate and even gloat a bit. But, I would ask them to at some point soon, get past the euphoria and actually go deeper into what their candidate has discussed, including the wall, tariffs, repealing Obamacare, handling ISIS in a secretive fashion, etc. Our new President-elect was voted in on the winds of change. Change can be a good thing, but not when it’s simply for the sake of change. There needs to be substantive reasons and concrete plans we can embrace. At this point, we all need to watch our new administration closely and hold their toes to the fire when they consider any actions that could curtail any of our hard-fought freedoms.

So let’s all take a deep breath, stay vigilant, and choose love over fear. It’s the only way to go.

This week’s Guy’s Guy of the Week is President John Fitzgerald Kennedy. Yeah, remember that guy? He promoted equality, space exploration, physical fitness, and justice for all. And no one called him crooked or the second coming of Hitler. But sadly, we all know what happened. God bless America.

The Guys' Guy's Guide to Getting Married Later in Life

Robert Manni - Monday, November 07, 2016

Have you ever thought about how many dates is the right number before having sex with a new partner? Your Guy’s Guy says, “You can have sex on the first date or the tenth. What counts is when it feels right.” It’s the same with getting married.

Some daters are serial monogamists. They prefer the comfort of spending time with one partner and seeing what happens as the relationship unfolds. These folks often get married at a young age.  The divorce rate is over fifty percent, and I’ll bet a majority of them occur when people get married too early.

Others, like myself, prefer playing the field until they figure things out. And by that I mean taking the time to understand themselves and what works for them. For people like me, that can be a long process that includes lots of dates and romances. And for this Guy’s Guy, it meant taking a very long time before getting married. In fact, I was single so long that over time at holiday get-togethers, no one in my family even bothered asking me when I was getting married. It was a foregone conclusion that I would remain a bachelor. But they were wrong.

I’ve been married now for almost seven years and time has gone by quickly. During these years of what I still call my marriage bliss, I’ve learned a lot about myself, the meaning of marriage, and when it’s best to tie the knot. I’ll tackle that first. My advice is for you to get married when it feels right. If it doesn’t feel one hundred percent right in your head, your heart, and your soul, don’t do it. Also, love yourself. If you don’t love yourself, how can you expect anyone else to love you?

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, I’d like to share some considerations, along with the pros and cons, and insights I’ve gleaned. So, without further ado, here is my Guys’ Guy’s Guide to Marrying Later in Life.

Drum roll, please.

You can be a better partner – Man, I really messed up a lot of relationships with some great women before I got married. Most of the damage was self-inflicted. While my partners quietly fumed about my insensitive behavior and my selfishness, I strutted about thinking nothing was wrong until it was too late. This happened more than once. Fortunately, although I can be a slow learner, I finally realized what I had doing wrong in my relationships for so many years. How did I find out? After my third date with the women who is now my wife, I asked her what I needed to do to be a good boyfriend. I told her that I had a number of failed relationships and although I was a decent guy, my behavior must have been lacking in some ways. She said, “Pay attention”. I nodded and asked her if there was anything else. She quietly said, “No”.  That’s when the light bulb lit up above my head. My mind shifted into a rapid review of all of my past relationships, and sure enough she was right. In many ways, I had not been paying enough attention to my partner or the nuances of the relationships. And I thought that if they had a problem, they would say so. But, a lot of women expect the guy to know how she is feeling. That’s because they always seem to know how we are feeling. It’s because women pay attention. But at least I now knew what the problem was. So, I was on my way to relationship success. We got engaged after dating for one year and were married a year later almost to the day.

I attribute having this life-changing epiphany partly because I waited until I knew who I was and how to be a better partner before getting married. So chalk one up for waiting until you’re really ready before getting married. It worked for me. Of course simply knowing is not the same as putting “paying attention” into practice. And I often catch myself slipping in this area. But, I’ve been married for over six years so I must have stepped up a bit.

You know yourself better and are more established – A lot of couples in their early twenties get married and by the time they hit thirty, they are different people who are going in different directions. Some call this their starter marriage. I call that bullshit. Marriage is marriage. You can define the terms however you want, but it’s not disposable for a Guy’s Guy. And that’s another reason why I waited. I wanted to have a solid grip on every aspect of myself, and my career before getting married, and I expected the same from my life partner. I suspect marriage is a lot easier when both participants have their feet on the ground and their dreams and goals clearly defined. It takes time for many people to get to this place. Money can certainly be a factor, but finding your footing in life is more than that. And it’s much easier to share your life with someone when you are comfortable in your own skin and know how to survive and thrive on your own. Your spouse is your partner, not your savior. Chalk up another point for waiting until you know who you are before getting married.

Having kids changes everything – I have aging parents and a young son. That can be tricky and draining also. I love my son so much, and I think I’m a better parent now than I would have been a thirty. I know who I am and I have the patience required to succeed with a toddler. But, psychologically, being an older parent can be challenging. I push myself constantly to live a healthy lifestyle and stay in top condition physically, mentally, and spiritually. I want to share as much time as possible with my son and to do so I’ve had to make sacrifices. But that’s fine.

When I was single, I played golf every weekend. Now, I’m at the playground with the kid. It’s a small price to pay, even though I do love golfing.

Though, at times I get sad when I think about our age difference. In fact, my wife and I are considering having yet another child so our son has a sibling he can know and love as he gets older, and we get well, even older. It’s a toss up, but I have to confess, it’s probably better having kids earlier, so chalk one up for not waiting too long to get married.

There are lots more considerations, but I think I hit on the three macro issues when considering how long to wait until getting married. And again, no matter what, if you take the time to know and get comfortable with yourself, you’ll increase your chances of having a successful marriage. I’ll say it one more time. If it does not feel right, don’t do it. No matter how lonely you may be or how wonderful your current partner is, if in your heart of hearts you do not believe they are, “The One”, then wait.

This Week’s Guys’ Guys of the Week are my parents, Serge and Carole Manni. Unlike me, they got married very young and have been successfully married for the past sixty-six years. Go figure. 

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