5 Honest Questions to Ask Yourself About Being Good

5 Honest Questions to Ask Yourself About Being Good

“How do you feel about yourself as a man in the world today?”

I have been in hundreds of men’s groups and men’s weekend events, sitting in a sacred circle, asking this tough question. My answer and your answer are a good indicator, akin to taking your masculine temperature, of how things are going. Note to women: the majority of men do not feel very good about themselves as a man in the world today. If we men are honest, we fall short. If we did not fall short somewhere, our lives would not be very interesting. We men like projects. We like to have a goal toward which we can march . We men may be confused by our dual and seemingly incompatible roles of being strong and being sensitive at the same time. We are challenged by the demands of family and work, and very often mired in self doubt and fear. Are we living up to our own expectations?  Can we?

These are questions I struggle with and thought, what the hell, why not share these with the world? That is a big “gulp” moment, but such is the life of an author. Remain vulnerable and humble and grateful.

I offer 5 questions I ask myself. These are on my wall and I see them every day. I find it helps me to get a bearing on my life path. There are no right or wrong answers. Like meditation, all there is to do is observe what comes up. If something is triggered, then you may chose to take some actions to rectify that which is at issue. These are questions I struggle with and thought, what the hell, why not share these with the world? That is a big “gulp” moment, but such is the life of an author. Remain vulnerable and humble and grateful.  On to the questions.

Am I an honest man?

“If you tell the truth you don’t have to remember anything” – Mark Twain

Let’s jump beyond the obvious forms of dishonesty such as an affair or material theft. The real question for me is, do I tell the truth? When it comes to telling the truth, I admit that I am a liar to myself. I tend to tell myself things are better than they really are. I tend to be dishonest when it comes to assessing and taking action to resolve problems that come up in my life. Rather than address key challenges head on, I push them to the side until they reach crisis mode. This is a subtle, yet pernicious form of lying.

My internal lying shows up in the way that I appear ungrounded. I don’t carry a certain weight. That makes me a lightweight. I am not a solid man. I am inauthentic.

Here is the ridiculous thing I observe about lying to myself.   For a long time, I actually thought I was fooling everyone around me! I have come to realize everyone close to me can see when I lie to myself. My internal lying shows up in the way that I appear ungrounded. I don’t carry a certain weight. That makes me a lightweight. I am not a solid man. I am inauthentic. I appear to be a bit of a con artist. I suffer from imposter syndrome.   This all leads to a lack of trust in myself, which bleeds out to everyone in my life. Are you honest?

Am I trustable?

“Just trust yourself, then you will know how to live.” —Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Clearly, if I cannot be honest with myself, how can anybody trust me? In social situations, I am trustable. I can show up on time. I can share my honest opinions. I can do what I say I will do. However, when the going gets tough, those close to me do not feel confident that I can truly, no bullshit, be counted on. In our men’s group, we often discussed the scenario of being in a war during a firefight with two men, literally back to back, with life on the line. Can you trust your brother to have your back? Can you trust yourself to have your brother’s back? This is a serious question. Are you the man who will stand in the fire and endure the heat, or will you throw in your cards and walk away?

“When the shit hits the fan, some guys run and some guys stay.”

There is a great scene of Al Pacino in The Scent of a Woman (video link below) in which he expands upon this.   “When the shit hits the fan, some guys run and some guys stay.” When you made the commitment to love her till death do you part, was that a conditional promise in your mind, based on your wife being a certain way? What if things change, as they often do? How much can your woman share of herself and trust that you will stick around? Are you trustable?

Am I taking full responsibility for my life?

“If it’s never our fault, we can’t take responsibility for it. If we can’t take responsibility for it, we’ll always be its victim.” — Richard Bach

Do you realize all your emotions, thoughts and feelings are your own? When your woman says that thing (and we all have that thing, don’t we?) that sets you off, are you willing to sit with the feelings, and accept them as your own? Are you going to deal with the issue internally rather than blaming someone else? During men’s group sessions, men often rail against their wives or girlfriends or partners. A man may say, “She told me __________, and that really pissed me off. And then she did this ______________ and I was even more livid!” At this point, I tell the man to stay with the feelings, and forget about her. She is not the issue. She is the catalyst (and a wonderful teacher), but all the feelings are our own to manage and process. This is a tough lesson, and it usually takes hold for just a few minutes, for ours is a culture of blame. Do you blame someone else for your feelings and emotions?  Are you still blaming your parents? I ask myself, am I a responsible adult male who accepts that all the stuff that gets stirred up within is my own? In fact, it is the source of my greatest moments of awakening.  Am I truly responsible?

Am I a solid provider?

“What does a man do Walter? A man provides for his family.
And a man, a man provides. And he does it even when he’s not appreciated, or respected, or even loved. He simply bears up and he does it. Because he’s a man.” — Gus Fring, Breaking Bad.

This is a tough question for most men that I know. It is the toughest question for me. I have earned great sums of money in my life, but I have also spent great sums of money. I am not a solid provider. The answer to this question is also a strong indicator of your capacity to be a good husband and a good father? Are you? When your child asks for financial assistance, are you there for him or her? If your good friend in Madagascar needs your presence, can you drop everything, jump on a plan, and spend some time with him in his dire moment of need? When you retire, will you and your partner be set for life? Does your partner live with financial stress? Does she live with the burden of your shortcomings? Are you solid like a brick house? Or are you financially shaky like a house of cards?

Chris Rock… shares how nobody seems to appreciate the man for providing. “Nobody ever says, Thanks Daddy for knocking out the rent!”

In most relationships, providing is the man’s job. Chris Rock presents a great comedy skit about this exact scenario.  He shares how nobody seems to appreciate the man for providing. “Nobody ever says, Thanks Daddy for knocking out the rent!” (Video link below).  It is a great 3 minutes of comedy and truth.   It is our job to provide. Are you doing your job? Are you a solid provider?

Am I a man of knowledge?

“A man goes to knowledge as he goes to war: wide-awake, with fear, with respect, and with absolute assurance. Going to knowledge or going to war in any other manner is a mistake, and whoever makes it might never live to regret it” — Carlos Castaneda, The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge

I have observed that the greatest men in my life, and the greatest men I have admired through their words, all have a powerful unquenchable desire to learn more about themselves and about all human beings. Naturally as a writer, most of my heroes are authors. These men like Thoreau and Whitman lived with a few seminal questions: What does it mean to be a human being? What exactly is this experience on Earth? Why am I here? Who am I? What is a right and honorable way to live?

When you come to the end of your days, will you look back and marvel at how far you have come, or will you instead wonder where the time went? Are you a man of knowledge?

I have found meditation, group workshops, writing, reading, interaction with the feminine, and my close male relationships are all sources of greater awareness and self-knowledge. Women can tell the difference between a man of depth and a man just piddling about in life. What is your big picture path? Do you have one? When you come to the end of your days, will you look back and marvel at how far you have come, or will you instead wonder where the time went? Are you a man of knowledge?

These are my questions. I share them with you. I invite you to live within the question. How do you fare? As I ask these questions, I am guided to keep striving forward, making tweaks in my life as I see necessary.  I once heard Werner Erhard call this trim tabbing, making small adjustments, or iterations in life, and over time, great things are accomplished. I hope you experienced some value from these questions, and find some areas that you might trim tab as well. Finally, I invite you to be gentle with yourself. These questions are not designed to make you feel bad or shameful or guilty. If you find an area that resonates as an area for improvement, it is a time to be grateful for such a huge opportunity in your life.  You would not be reading this article unless you wanted some little piece of wisdom. Reading an article on this website is a good sign that you are on your way, as we all are, to being good and honorable men!

The article originally appeared on the Good Men Project Website.

Five Masculine Thoughts for an Empowering Relationship

Five Masculine Thoughts for an Empowering Relationship


“Like a sculptor, if necessary,
carve a friend out of stone.
Realize that your inner sight is blind
and try to see a treasure in everyone.”

― Rumi

I was twenty-two when I began working at Leo Burnett, a prestigious advertising agency located in Chicago, Illinois. I was in the account executive training program with fifty or so other new college graduates from around the country. During one of our training session, a senior executive then stated what now seems fairly obvious:

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” 

I now look back on that statement as a profound truth because there is something inside men that wants to fix things, even when they are not broken.  Let’s call that certain something that lives inside of you and me, The Fixer, a unique aspect of ourselves that we can use to our benefit or detriment.

Men Like to Fix Stuff!

Let me tell you about The Fixer and see if you can relate.  The Fixer is a determined fellow.  No matter what, he wants to fix.  The Fixer loves a good problem.  The harder the problem, the happier The Fixer!  Without a problem, The Fixer tends to fade into the background.   However, make no mistake; The Fixer is not going to give up.  If there is no problem, The Fixer will more often than not create a problem just to keep himself occupied.  One target on which The Fixer places a big bull’s-eye women.  Many men have a strong desire to fix their woman in a misguided attempt to make their own lives better.  What can we learn from this?

#1 – Don’t Try to Fix Her.

The pertinent question here is – Why does she have to be anything different than she is?  She is not broken, so why do you want to fix her?  I suggest that if you are trying to fix your woman, you have not fully settled into your masculine core.  Whatever dissatisfaction you are feeling about your woman is your dissatisfaction.  Rather than trying to fix something that is already complete and whole, begin to work on that part of you that doesn’t feel complete and whole, with or without a woman.

#2 – Accept the Truth: SHE is Not Going to Change No Matter What You Do.

You have got to surrender to the truth.

And in that moment of realization, you may choose your woman exactly as she is. This was my experience. It was like a breath of fresh air.

Don’t expect your woman to change.  She won’t.  This expectation is a sure formula for thwarted feelings and frustration.  She isn’t broken.  And she doesn’t deserve your judgment or condemnation.   She certainly does not deserve the self-righteous feeling coming from you that she isn’t good enough as she is.  It is time to be responsible for your own feelings of self-worth, and stop projecting them upon the world and specifically upon your intimate partner.

I realize I have said the same thing three times now. The reason I do is no one believes it. Guys think they can change a woman. It’s a subtle form of masculine insanity. I know men that have been with the same woman for ten to fifteen years, pecking at their own chests, suffering while waiting for their women to change.  At some point, the suffering becomes so great that a stark realization takes hold.  “Why am I doing this to myself?”  “She isn’t going to change.”  And in that moment of realization, you may choose your woman exactly as she is.  This was my experience.  It was like a breath of fresh air.  Once I made the choice to accept a woman as is, she transformed as if by miracle.  But in “reality” she didn’t change.  I changed.  And in that moment, the whole world changed as well.

#3 – She is Your Mirror.

Another paradigm to embrace is this: Your woman is challenging you, reflecting your deepest truths and wounds, and whether you realize it or not, you want and need the internal growth she fosters in you.  Painful?  Sure.  You get angry?  Of course.  But ultimately, you chose each other for just that reason.  The relationship serves you both by exposing those dark issues of yourselves you may never have seen without sharing a life together.  Out of the darkness comes those crystalline moments of clarity and bliss and transformation.

#4 – Look Within, and that Will Transform how You Experience Her.

A man who is fully settled into his masculine essence realizes that his woman, among many things, is in part a brilliant reflection of himself.  She is your mirror.  And if you don’t like the image you are getting back, the answer does not lie in breaking the mirror and then trying to glue all the pieces back together.   Instead, going deep within yourself is the place to put your focus.  Anytime we look to external sources for our gratification, we are in trouble.  We can’t change or fix most external forces.   Life is loose and out of control.  When it is time for your transmission to break, it will break.  Time for the flu, so be it.   Life throws us all kinds of curve balls.  As men, we have a choice to observe and respond to what is happening all around us and marvel at the mysterious and magical nature of it all, or we can get frustrated and angry and place blame.  I assert this paradigm shift is what transforms boys into men.

#5 – Every Woman is a Goddess. If You Don’t See it, It’s on YOU.

How can we expect women to blossom into their full radiance when they are being told, directly and indirectly, they aren’t good enough?

It is a challenge to find a man who truly respects the wisdom of women. Most men, mired in the pathology of patriarchy, can’t see clearly through the darkened lens. Until a man surrenders to the power, divine connection, and creative force of a woman, and is humbled by the living goddess within the feminine form, he will hold a women as less than who she is. Social conditioning makes it so. She feels it as a dismissal.

Women living fully within their power are the most beautiful beings in creation. Only a humble man will ever experience the joy of co-creating with the feminine in a true organic partnership. How can we expect women to blossom into their full radiance when they are being told, directly and indirectly, they aren’t good enough?  Constant pressuring to become a new and improved version of themselves only leads to resistance and despondency and retraction.

Don’t look out. Look within. After many sessions of deep introspection, you may realize that The Fixer is just The Trickster in disguise. The truth is, you don’t need to be fixed either. It is all just a ruse to challenge you and keep you distracted and off purpose. The Fixer is just one of many personas of the ego. When you realize he doesn’t need to exist, you pass. When you take responsibility for your own experience, life begins to show up as a synchronistic symphony of glorious moments. You will wonder where this rich vibrant life you are feeling has been hiding all this time. And the woman who has patiently been waiting for you to appear will show up again as the goddess she has always been.

The article originally appeared on the Good Men Project Website.

Are We All Just a Bunch of Robots?

Are We All Just a Bunch of Robots?

Author Jay Cradeur raises some questions about what we know and what we think we know.

During the past month, I have been driving for both Uber and Lyft. It’s sort of like being a taxi driver and therapist in one job. Driving people around, one begins to notice trends, similarities, and common responses. For example, I have observed that many men get loud and aggressive (and obnoxious) when they drink. Women tend to get silly and chatty (and flirty). When I talk about my 15 months in Thailand, everyone (and I mean everyone) says that they want to do the same thing. When I share about my Facebook consulting business, everyone (and I mean everyone) says they would like to have their own business that would allow them to be in charge of their own time and have more freedom. Observing life as I do, I began to wonder where do all these behaviors and ideas originate. In other words, whose agenda are we living? Or to put it even a more direct way, whose life are we really living?

During a recent drive, I listened to one of my favorite podcasts, WTF with Marc Maron. I love this guy and hope to meet him some day on my own podcast. He is me with a tad bit more addiction and darkness.   On this day, his guest was Crispin Glover. You may remember Crispin Glover from movies like Back to the Future (“you are my density…”) and The River’s Edge. Crispin Glover is fascinated by and dedicated to the eradication of propaganda. They spoke very passionately about how the corporate funded movies present a very specific way for men and women to live and relate to each other. As I thought further about the podcast, I become unmoored. I asked myself, rather dumbfounded, “Is anything that I think truly my own, or am I just a puppet on a string?”

I have a very strong desire to travel back to SE Asia, live in warm sunshine, spend time with my favorite woman, eat fresh food, swim in the crystal clear water, and wake up happy. Do I want this? Or do I think I want this because I have seen it in movies and been brainwashed to think this is a wonderful way to live my retirement years. I wonder… The thought that my entire life has been a manipulation leaves me reeling with doubt and seething with anger. When I hear that 85 people in the world own 50% of everything there is to own (Source: Oxfam), it makes sense that those folks are manipulating the masses to keep us content and malleable.

What do I truly want? What do I truly believe? What do I truly know to be true? These are big questions. Perhaps asking these questions will not bring me any closer to contentment or happiness. However, I want to know! There is something in me, and perhaps in you, that wants to understand how I have been manipulated. Perhaps in the understanding of the manipulation, I can be freed of it, and live a life with my own thoughts, my own desires, and my own truths. That sounds like an essential goal worth going for.

The article originally appeared on the Good Men Project Website.

Masculine Messages from 2016’s Academy Award Nominated Films

Masculine Messages from 2016’s Academy Award Nominated Films

Author Jay Cradeur shares his observations of five must see Academy Award nominated films.

Movies feed my soul. Rarely am I happier than when I can lie down on the bed, my head propped up, trusty Mac Book pro at my side, and a good movie cued and ready to play. The anticipation is wonderful. Rarely am I completely satisfied, but indeed, each movie provides a message or gift of another’s wisdom. As the Academy Awards roll toward us each year, I attempt to watch all the pertinent films. The viewings help to assuage my Christmas holiday malaise. Here are five films at the top of my viewing list and a brief take away message for each.

The Big Short.

If the movie Wall Street proclaimed, “Greed is good” then the message of The Big Short is greed is not so good, and does in fact destroy lives. We see the dark side of Capitalism. We see here men’s obsession with wealth. Since so many lost so much in the financial collapse of 2008, this film provides a powerful explanation of how blind greed by a few can impact the lives of millions in a moment. This movie features outstanding performances by both Steve Carell (who in my humble opinion should have been nominated) and Christian Bale, who was nominated for Best Supporting Actor.


The sexual scandal of the Catholic Church has now been well documented. It took the work of a very dedicated newspaper team in Boston to the bring the story of sexual abuse of young boys at the hands of priests to the light of day. We observe in this movie the power of men’s desire for the truth. We observe the incredible harm and destruction of shame in a man’s life. While Spotlight is exciting to watch, the film does not let you forget how much damage was done to young boys who became men all over the world.


Here again we see the dark side of men.   One man captures, imprisons, abuses and steals every dignity from a mother and her young boy. This movie impressed me with the simple beauty of life, which I tend to take for granted. Rarely do I consider the freedom I have to walk out the front door of my home and see the trees blowing in the wind or the sunlight breaking over the horizon. This movie also reminded me of the innate desire of the human spirit for freedom. Upon completing this movie I was left with the feeling of sadness for the devastation one human being can wreak on another.


This little movie, Trumbo, was a surprise. I did not know anything about it. I should have know that if Bryan Cranston (of Breaking Bad) was involved, I would love the film. I did. I laughed. I cried. I cheered. This film is a testament to the power of a man living to his ideals while others wilt to the social pressure of the tribe. Trumbo was a communist, a writer, an activist, a father and a husband. During the course of being a blacklisted screenplay writer, Trumbo remained resolute in his beliefs, even languishing in prison for several years, before being completely exonerated. Great film. Great performances. Bravo Bryan Cranston!

The Revenant

As I watched this film, which I believe deserves the Best Picture honor, I felt the constant presence of three men: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy and Director, Alejandro G. Iñárritu. This movie requires your dedication. The Revenant (one who comes back from the dead) demands your attention. It is an all consuming experience, one you will not quickly forget. Man versus nature. Man versus man. Man versus death. Man versus bear. In The Revenant, we see the power of man to survive, and live, and pursue revenge. This film will carry you away to a land of bitter cold, unforgiving enemies, and lost love. In the end, I feel this movie is about a father and a son and the power of that bond. God help any man who breaks it.

There are quite a few fantastic films up for awards that I have not mentioned. These five inspired me. These five taught me lessons. These five most questioned the meaning of being a man in the world. Check them out. Enjoy the films. Get lost in somebody else’s vision. Pick up something here and there. Happy New Years. And the Oscar goes to ….

The article originally appeared on the Good Men Project Website.

Tom Petty’s Brilliant Lyrics Tell A Free Fallin’ Guy Story

Tom Petty’s Brilliant Lyrics Tell A Free Fallin’ Guy Story

Author Jay Cradeur explores themes of a man’s life with the words of poet warrior musician Tom Petty (with video links).

“God, it’s so painful when something that’s so close is still so far out of reach.”

Tom Petty, American Girl (Video here).

Last night, after a long and stressful day at the auto dealership in search for a metallic grey 2015 Toyota Prius, I lied on my bed and hunkered down to watch the four-hour documentary on Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers titled Running Down a Dream. If you graduated from high school in the 70’s or 80’s, you will most likely enjoy the film and the music, and learn something about the man who wrote (and continues to write to this day) all those amazing songs. This article is inspired by the lyrics of Tom’s songs, which cover many topics none the least of which are desire, waiting, self knowledge, silent power, and inner contentment.

“There was rock and roll across the dial, when I think of her it makes me smile.”

Tom Petty, Dreamville


We all have something don’t we? We all have something we want, but we just can’t seem to get it. Or, once we get it, we want something else. It is the never-ending cycle of desire, satisfaction (which is rarely as good as we had expected), and then renewed desire for something else. Try these on for size: We love someone, we want someone, but can’t have them. This is classic unrequited love. We want to lose those extra 20 pounds and get into the best shape of our life, but can’t (or won’t) do it. We want to have $1,000,000 in our retirement fund so we can stop working and live in decadent freedom, yet it seems so far away. Plug in your own desire. Love, health, and money usually top the list. We all have them.

“The waiting is the hardest part, every day you get one more yard. You take it on faith, you take it to the heart, the waiting is hardest part.”

Tom Petty, The Waiting (Video here)


Anything worth having or doing is hard. This is fact. Writing a book is hard. Being married is hard. Saving for retirement is hard. Creating the body you desire is hard. The good stuff does not come easy. It requires an understanding of the concept of delayed gratification. For years I talked about writing a book. It wasn’t until I sat down in Phuket, Thailand and wrote out a work schedule over 3 months. I then worked my plan and typed on my laptop each day and the book Radical Freedom was actually written and published. The same goes for losing 40 pounds. Every day I went to the gym. Everyday I ate a high protein, low carb diet. Over a year, I dropped the weight. There is a myth that once you find your passion, your work will always be a joy. This is utter nonsense. Work by its very nature has certain challenging by products, namely, monotony, boredom, struggle, and self-doubt. Understanding that anything worth having is hard and requires a powerful commitment is a necessary step toward achievement and fulfillment.

“It just seems to useless to have to work so hard, and nothing ever really seem to come from it”

“Just wonderin’, waitin’, worryin’ about some silly little things, that just don’t add up to nothin’”

Tom Petty, Here Comes My Girl (Video here)

Self Knowledge

Know thyself. This is easier said than done. Do you know what you want? If you don’t know where you are going, any road will take you there! In the process of learning about myself, I found that the high’s were not so high, and the lows were not so low. I made discoveries. Life established a more even keel. Over the years, I had learned what triggered my lows, and took a good hard look at the root of the upset. I also learned what produced the outrageous highs in my life, and began to temper them with a solid dose of reality and an understanding that nothing truly makes that big of a difference in my life. I may be a hamster on a wheel, but I know I am a hamster on a wheel.

“I got my own way of praying.”

Tom Petty, Southern Accents (Video here)

Silent Power

In the process of having desires, learning more about ourselves, understanding that having what we want takes focus, work and time, and achieving some of our long term goals, we begin to develop an inner strength which I call silent power. Life is about to get very interesting. Suddenly the pursuit of external objects and the desire for love and the need for security become secondary to our internal landscape. Instead of looking out for validation and satisfaction, one begins to look within. For many, this type of rebirth occurs in a church setting, and for many others it occurs sitting on a mediation cushion or at a Buddhist temple in SE Asia.

“I’m learning to fly, but I ain’t got wings. Coming down is the hardest thing.”

Tom Petty, Learning To Fly (Video here)

Inner Contentment

Is this the ultimate goal of life? Is the life of Siddhartha the role model for a fully realized life? In Herman Hesse’s classic novel, Siddhartha experiences the delight of every human desire and then realizes there must be something else. Off he ventures in search of himself. In the end he achieves enlightenment simply by observing the river and realizing we are all a part of a whole interconnected life. Desires come and go. They do not impact the silent power that lives within. Nothing impacts the inner life. This is the lesson and the state of grace some achieve. It is a love affair with none other than life itself.

“I wanna free fall out into nothin’ Gonna leave this world for awhile”

Tom Petty, Free Fallin’ (Video here)

Life is so amazing, and interesting. The more I look at it and write about it, the more I realize there is so much more to it than I could ever have imagined. When Tom Petty sings about free fallin’, I wonder if he is touching on the lessons from Siddhartha. For some, desires drive a life. For others, desires come and go. And still for others, life is a free flowing dance, a carnival show for our amusement, the ultimate free fall. Regardless, all of it fantastically coexists and drenches us like a Louisiana rain.

The article originally appeared on the Good Men Project Website.

Music Is This Writer’s Constant Companion

Music Is This Writer’s Constant Companion

Author Jay Cradeur shares his love of music and it’s influence on the creative process.

I do quite a bit of writing. The truth about writing to which most authors will readily admit is it is often a laborious chore. Sure, there are times in which a rich wave of inspiration hits, and the words freely flow out of your fingertips on to the keyboard and are then made real on the screen, but that is rare. Instead, I sit down at the same time each day, usually in the same spot, although I do mix it up when I can and sit in a coffee shop or restaurant, and I look at a blank screen. This scenario is just the beginning. This is where the work begins. Inspired or not, I will start to type.

He needed absolute silence or else he would either yell at the protagonist, or refuse to perform until it was silent.

One thing that I do which supports me in my writing is to combine my love of music with my writing time. Some writers need complete silence. I do not. Music is a catalyst for my emotions. Music brings up memories. Music makes me happy. Ever since I heard Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin back in high school, I knew music would be a part of my life. Make no mistake, I am not a musician. I can’t sing, and don’t play an instrument. But let me listen to 28 minutes of Dazed and Confused and nine times out of ten I will have tears in my eyes during the guitar solos. Music touches my soul.

Now, decades later, as I look at the blank screen, I often think of Keith Jarrett in front of thousands, with a blank canvas in front of him, creating something from nothing.

Over the past year, I have been creating a playlist in ITunes entitled “AA – Writing Music.” First thing I did was add a few artists that I knew belonged on the list: Van Morrison. Miles Davis, Radiohead, Bob (Marley and Dylan), Leonard Cohen and of course, Keith Jarrett. I had seen Keith Jarrett in concert several times in my twenties. He is such a unique performer, improvising the entire concert. He needed absolute silence or else he would either yell at the protagonist, or refuse to perform until it was silent. In addition to his virtuoso piano playing, he would also vocalize a bit, working with everything he had to get the most out of himself and his instrument. I remember feeling grateful to experience such brave and marvelous performances.

Now, decades later, as I look at the blank screen, I often think of Keith Jarrett in front of thousands, with a blank canvas in front of him, creating something from nothing. When I hear his Koln Concert performance in my earphones, I am inspired. What one man can do, another can do. Now as I write, I hear the music of some of my all time greats playing and some new artists too. The list continues to evolve. I recently added an Irish musician Hozier and a CD by Annie Lennox. Writing has become less of a chore, for it is now also an opportunity to do something I love which is to listen to music. As I write this, a live version of John Coltrane’s Naima is playing. I am off into my own little world with all my writing and musician buddies. How amazing this life is!

The article originally appeared on the Good Men Project Website.

The One Secret to Get What you Want

The One Secret to Get What you Want

Author Jay Cradeur shares what 56 years showed him (so far) about being content with life.

Give them what they want!

There, now you have read the punch line. The secret to get what you want is to give them what they want.

This is simple advise but not easy to follow. For example, gurus have been talking about enlightenment for centuries yet for only a select few, it makes little to no difference. You can not become enlightened by reading about it or hearing about it. You can hear about something in theory, but unless you live it and practice it with discipline, it won’t have any impact. I can tell you how to ride a bike, explain about how the wheels turn and show you how the handlebars control your direction. But if you have never actually rode a bike, you will fall the moment you try to ride. You have no real life experience.

Instead, we see restaurants where half the people are looking down into their smartphones, or taking pictures of their food, or posing for a selfie. We are self-absorbed.

Virtually anything and everything you want involves other people. If you want your partner to do something for you, your partner is involved. If you want to build your business, prospects and clients are involved. If you want to grow as a person, then you will have teachers, either live, or through videos and books, who will need you to follow their instructions. In most cases, your wants are dependent on other people. Few of us live in a vacuum.

Give them what they want.

It’s not about you. In our increasingly ego based existence, this is harder and harder to realize. What does ego based existence mean? It means as our world becomes less and less secure, we think more and more about our own well-being. Our ego has a field day with fear. Also, as our society becomes more technologically dependent, we have less need to interact person to person. Instead, we see restaurants where half the people are looking down into their smartphones, or taking pictures of their food, or posing for a selfie. We are self-absorbed.

…a whole new world opens up. Life becomes an experience you flow with, rather than struggle against.

One of the great experiences in life is called Samadhi. This is a drug free experience in which a person feels connected to everything in existence. During Samadhi, there is no doubt that the individual “I” is an illusion, and we, all humans, exists as a part of a whole, not independent, but rather interconnected. It shatters all concepts of being separate and different and distinct. It allows one to function from a new perspective.

Give them what they want.

Once you can get out of your own way, and put your wants and needs off to the side for a bit of time, you may see clearly just what it is that another person wants and desires. Once you see it, then all you need to do is deliver it. The trick, as I have been saying all along, is to get yourself into a position to see it. When you do, a whole new world opens up. Life becomes an experience you flow with, rather than struggle against.

“I came to realize that life lived to help others is the only one that matters and that it is my duty…This is my highest and best use as a human.”      Ben Stein

This approach works, and it requires a paradigm shift. I hope you can see the brilliance in the simplicity of this illumination. Put the focus on others. Treat them like your most prized possession for they hold the keys to the kingdom. What do they want? What does your partner want? What do business associates want from you? If you are building an online business, stop thinking about what you want to say or do, and instead ask yourself, what do my prospects want in their lives? Instead of pushing yourself onto life, pull life toward you. Can you be the bus driver and give what is wanted? In a world with much misery and suffering, can you jump off the merry-go-round and see it for what it is. The contentment from giving what is wanted is what we all want.

Five Simple Things Every Partner Wants From Their Man

Five Simple Things Every Partner Wants From Their Man

Author Jay Cradeur shares a few tips on attracting a partner and creating an environment in which they can thrive.

How do you have a person want you? Give them exactly what they most want from you. If you give them what they want, you are a valuable commodity in their life. They will want you back. What are five things that you can courageously give to a lover that they want? I shared this list with my 19-year-old daughter, and she said, “Dad, I can think of 10 more things that I want from a guy!” While that may be true, I present these five as a starting point. This list is based on conversations with many people through the years, and my own experience sharing myself and observing the varying degree of delight I received in return. This article does not address financial security as a core desire. “Do they love me or do they love my money?” That is a big topic for another day. This list reflects more personal interactive qualities. Let’s get to it.

#1 Your Partner Wants Your Depth.

As men, we have been raised from birth to thwart our own feelings. The fact that we have a male body has dictated that we should not feel nor express all our emotions. “ Big boys don’t cry!” “Don’t you cry.” “Be tough Son.” There is no doubt about it, suppressing our emotions, numbing our feelings, keeping things bottled up is part of the masculine path. However, and, this is the most important point. Our journey to courageously explore and feel those feelings in spite of our upbringing, and share those feelings, leads us to an incredible depth of experience.

“I never found a companion that was so companionable as solitude.”

Henry David Thoreau

The best way for a man to begin to feel more, to experience more perception, to increase his awareness, is to slow down. Meditation increased my depth exponentially. Life goes on. We get buried in our jobs, our tasks, our errands, the television, the smart phone, the Internet, and daily dramas. These all serve to overload our senses, numbing us even further. Slow down, move toward stillness, and begin to notice how your feelings and perceptions increase. That is the depth your partner wants to feel from you.

#2 Your Partner Wants Your Vulnerability

Be vulnerable. This is irresistible. When your heart is open, every human being is attracted. It is one of the few sources of real magic we have. I learned this from author Stuart Wilde. He once told me “Once you get your energy right, you will be pulling pubic hairs out of your teeth!” Keep your heart open and trust in life. Those are two tenets that I have strived to uphold, even when it hurts. And it does hurt at times, like a red searing hot poker slowly piercing the membrane of the heart. Stay open, especially when it hurts. It takes strength and your partner digs it.

#3 Your Partner Wants Your Humor

I was in Laos with my friend John. We were looking for some companionship. John is a wizard with conversation and humor. He knows how to work a room. He has a way of talking that makes everyone laugh and they love him for it. He is strong in the humor department. Who doesn’t want to laugh and be happy? Make your partner laugh, and they will keep coming back for more.

#4 Your Partner Wants Your Touch

“Simplicity is the glory of expression.”

Walt Whitman

Me, I am decent with the humor. It is not my strength.  I am no John, but I have my moments. However, I am very good at the touch. I remember walking with a exquisite woman in Saigon, and I stopped her, grabbed her around the waist, and began to dance with her on the sidewalk. It was wonderful. It was unexpected. It was vulnerable. It was a risk. It worked. Try it sometime. Touch is such a gentle way of connecting. It lets your partner know you are present, in their space, happy to be there, and you are wide awake to hear and be with your partner. Touch more often.

#5 Your Partner Wants Your Adoration

Are you willing to tell your partner how amazing they are?  Are you willing to have your partner feel as if they are the only one for you? Men will always get a positive response when you tell your partner “I think you are so beautiful” or “You are really amazing.” If you don’t feel that way, you probably shouldn’t be in pursuit. Go find someone for whom you do feel that way.

“Apart from the known and the unknown, what else is there?”

Harold Pinter

I will be the first to admit that I don’t always understand my partner. If I think I do, I am a fool. Partners are a mystery wrapped in a riddle. I have learned the hard way that I don’t know what I don’t know. Every day, with each experience with a partner, I learn just a little bit more. I feel I am on fairly solid ground with these five items. These items are simple but not necessarily easy. I have seen them work over and over again. If you can think of anything else a partner wants, please share it in the comments below. Have a wonderful day!

The article originally appeared on the Good Men Project Website.