These days the word manly comes with a lot of baggage. It inherently defines all things not the subject to lack strength, courage, and virility. Its use over the last 100 years has slowly been cornered to be synonymous with machismo. Now many people only use the word when referencing anything aggressively masculine – so much so it's hard for grown men to refer to things as ‘manly' without sounding petty or chauvinistic.
However, for the rest of western history manliness was spoken about, even philosophized about, in much more serious and useful ways. Manliness is not, as Brett and Kate point out in Manvotionals, the opposite of womanliness, it is the opposite of childishness.
A man is not manly because he can bench press 300 pounds, hit on any woman in a bar, or come out on top in a street fight. While certainly skills many men dream of having, it would be incorrect to define them as manly with the word's overly vague, modern definition. To do so implies not being able to perform these things makes someone less of a man, which likely everyone but the most hardcore of the ‘alpha movement' would disagree with.
Manliness, as originally intended, has nothing to do with fitting into some pre-existing template but rather being the best man you can be. Actively trying to be a person of honor, self-reliance, discipline – these qualities are what being “manly” is truly all about. Destroying a target with a machine gun from 50 yards is not something that makes a person manly by itself; though a person with the diligence and industry to train himself can definitely have that skill. It's a bottom-up way of thinking, rather than top-down.
Manvotionals is a refreshing exploration into achieving one's personal manliness. Written by Brett and Kate McKay from Art of Manliness, Manvotionals is a follow up to their first hit book which taught important how-to skills like starting a fire without matches and raising resilient kids. While an awesome book as well, where that book taught men skills, Manvotionals teaches a man to live like a man by encouraging active thinking regarding seven important virtues: manliness, courage, industry, resolution, self-reliance, discipline, and honor. These virtues, attainable by any person regardless of wealth, class, or upbringing, are the structural foundation for achieving success in every area of life.
One of the surprising things Brett and Kate discuss that I found really interesting is how much “self-improvement” style books and courses have changed over the last century. Today, all of these types of publications are centered around positive thinking and superficial shortcuts to fame and riches; whereas the success manuals from before the 20th century are about developing a disciplined resolve enabling the reader to ultimately achieve any goal, no matter the context. These lessons aren't shortcuts to an easy, luxurious life: they allow a man to live a happy life full of deep, meaningful relationships with friends and family, and the long-lasting satisfaction of a life lived intentionally.
Manvotionals is broken into chapters based on the seven virtues. Each is filled with excerpts from books, speeches, letters, and poems from the likes of Aristotle to Roosevelt to Martin Luther King, Jr. But this is not just a book of reprinted “manly” speeches. This is a carefully curated bible of manhood with spot-on analysis from Brett and Kate. None of the reading is dry in the least, and the McKays' introductions serve as modern interpretations on how to best apply the knowledge of some of the most important thinkers in western history.
The book includes vintage drawings and inspirational quotes that keeps the experience easily digestible so you can focus on what really matters: Reflecting on the ideas so you can be the best you can be, as successful as you can be, and as honorable as you can be. Truly, the art of manliness.
Support Art of Manliness and the new man movement by picking up a copy of Manvotionals today, it will change your life.