Seven behaviours that make men age better

Henry Bantjez. Picture: Supplied

Henry Bantjez. Picture: Supplied

Published Jun 5, 2024


Henry Bantjez

There is something special about men who age well. Grey hair is no longer frowned upon but seen as sexy. Carrying a bald head with confidence and stepping up with wisdom that sets them apart from the rest. Brad Pit (the hair), George Clooney (the grey) and Jason Statham (the bald) come to mind. And as men like these journey through life, embracing their self-acceptance, happiness blossoms along their life journey. What sets them apart from the rest where the grey is just grey? Here is the juicy part. They strive to add meaning to their lives to ultimately be happier by these seven behaviours that they live by.

Defining the meaning of life

Philosophers such as Nietzsche, Tolstoy, Kierkegaard, and Aristotle dedicated their lives to answering the question with different viewpoints, but, in my opinion, His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, gives us a very simple answer, and this is the major life changer. The meaning of life is to be happy and useful. This means happiness is not just about you. Happiness is also achieved through helping others by being useful. The question is not to know what the meaning of life is but what meaning you can give to your life. Men who lead a life with meaning, instinctively know that they need to cherish others, pay attention to human values and that they have to cultivate inner peace. This opens the door to happiness.

Positive selfishness

Happiness is a spiritual practice, and it requires work. It is like a muscle. It grows when you nurture it. This kind of men start first and foremost, by taking care of themselves and unapologetically being themselves by not looking past their own needs to fulfil in others. This is what I call positive selfishness because as the saying goes, you can’t take care of anybody if you can’t take care of yourself. Men who practice loving kindness toward themselves create magic: they stop being so critical of themselves and, in turn, they become less judgemental of others. This alters the way they think. They grasp that love is the absence of judgment. They give those who mean something to them reasons to stick around. They spoil themselves because they know that they deserve it.

Sexual fantasies

Embracing and owning that you have fantasies or fetishes and dealing with the sense of shame so many men feel around disclosing their sexual appetites, as long as it does not hurt anyone, is not only liberating but increases libido. Not all men are cognisant of what makes “something” a fetish, or a sexual fantasy and they may often feel alone with their sexual proclivities in a society that tends to shame behaviour outside the so-called norm. Embracing your sexual fetish that you might otherwise push away due to feelings of shame, is the first step to integrating it into your sex life and “being more functional”. Fetishes can be very healthy and happier men explore what feels good for them. Let’s talk about sex. The best relationship is when your love for each other exceeds your need for each other. Men are men. They eat. They feel. They shag. They are testosterone-driven and when they don’t get enough, other performance drops – at home, at work, with friends, and the list goes on. Enjoying sex makes them look younger because it triggers oxytocin, dopamine, and serotonin, and increases anti-inflammatory responses. Repairing the skin barrier improves micro-circulation. In other words, getting their groove on makes them look more youthful. Perhaps they just learn to let go a bit. They also accept that their partners have different needs than theirs. They embrace them. Understand them. Give them shapes. Hold them in their hands. Feel them. But above all, they express their needs.

Living by mind over body

Happier men understand their minds better. It keeps them younger. The mind is the subjective experience of consciousness, and the body is the objective experience. A state of primordial being. Self-reparation. The external visual effects of it. A state of homeostasis. Equilibrium. But how do they do this? The answer is simple. When your mind is unbalanced, so is your body. When your mind is inflamed with anger, hostility, depression, anxiety, judgement, resentment, low EQ, guilt and shame, your body becomes inflamed. When your mind is at peace, your body, so to say, relaxes and heals because the mind is quiet. Your cell repair mechanisms work over time. This means that knowing this - or awareness - and something as simple as a healthy attitude toward life can keep you young. Men like these cultivate their mindfulness and practice healthy body and mind rituals. They know to focus on both. One won’t seal the deal when it comes to ageing with confidence.

They sleep

Your number one predictor of premature death that is associated with cardiovascular illness and Alzheimer’s is lack of sleep. While you are snoozing your skin’s blood flow increases, bringing nutrients and healthy colour, and rebuilding collagen. It even repairs damage from UV exposure as well as age spots. Enough sleep also keeps inflammation in check and reduces stress-generated and age-accelerating cellular damage to your skin and body. If you don’t sleep enough, you will age. Accelerated ageing caused by lack of sleep, stress, unhealthy emotions lack of mind-body coordination and above all poor nutrition, can cause chronic inflammation in your body and make you look older. It is a crucial contributor to various age-related pathologies and natural processes in ageing tissue, including the nervous and musculoskeletal systems. These men age so – for the lack of a better word – gracefully. You see it in the way they walk. The way they talk. The way they respond. Their posture. Their skin. Their constitution. They sleep.

Teaching the brain to re-experience joy

This is done by starting with meditation. It helps you stay mentally sharp. It cultivates awareness. You learn to slow down. It inspires you to write a gratitude journal. Everything you talk to your brain and remind it of a happy thought, reprograms your brain to re-experience joy. It creates equanimity – calmness and composure in difficult situations. This is how you start to remove toxins from your body and mind. Men who get this also get that there is no reality in life, only perception. This means that they think carefully before they act and they own the outcome of situations based on the decisions they made.

Laughter, the best medicine

Men who don’t take themselves too seriously and who laugh regularly in general are healthier, happier and foster positive attitudes. They find ways to laugh at their situations and choose not to stress about it too much. They hang out with friends who make them laugh and step away from those who drain their energy. They are selective about who they spend their time with. Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. Endorphins promote an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain. Humour lightens your burdens, inspires hope, connects you to others, and keeps you grounded, focused, and alert. It also helps you release anger and forgive easily. Laughter is strong medicine. It draws people together in ways that trigger healthy physical and emotional changes in the body. Laughter strengthens your immune system, boosts mood, diminishes pain, and protects you from the damaging effects of stress.

So if you thought that you were already doing well you can move from excellent to ex-factor by living these truths. And remember, the next time you think before you act, choose to laugh about it. Author Stephen King writes: “You can’t deny laughter; when it comes, it plops down in your favourite chair and stays as long as it wants” – and so will happiness. When you find it, hold onto it and don’t let go.

Henry Bantjez is a behavioural psychology expert and publishes regularly on wellness topics.

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