Why Are We Having So Little Sex?

Why Are We All Having So Little Sex?

By BELINDA LUSCOMBE -TIME Magazine writer - Health - October 26, 2018

 

Opposite sides of the Bed.jpg

Ms. Luscombe article is coming to you by submission of one of my readers who also is a good friend, William Fennie, H. W., M., a mentor and counselor in his own right. His foresight into the relevance of this article and the nature of my Blogs made it a natural fit for the SOC website, Thank you William.


Matt, a 34-year-old data analyst from Texas, and his wife dated for seven years before getting married in 2013. When they didn’t live together, they had sex every time they saw each other. After they moved in, however, he says things changed. Their sex life became inconsistent. They’d have a really active week and then a month with nothing, or just one at-bat. It began to hurt their relationship…..he didn’t know how to talk about sex with his wife.. “I really didn’t want to be pushy on that issue,” he says. “She has the right to say no, always and forever.”

 

If Matt’s story sounds familiar to you, you are not alone. Americans are …not having sex in droves, according to the General Social Survey, a profile of American behavior that has been gathered by the National Opinion Research Council at the University of Chicago since 1972, the fraction of people getting it on, at least once a week fell from 45% in 2000 to 36% in 2016. One study of the GSS data showed that more than twice as many millennial’s were sexually ‘inactive’ in their early 20’s than the prior generation was. And the sharpest drop was the most recent, in the years 2014 to 2016.

 

How can this be? …This is the era when …social stigma around premarital sex is gone, hookups are not considered shameful, and the belief in limiting partners to one side of the gender line is no longer universal…. Contraception has reduced the risk of serious physical consequences… technological … helps willing partners find each other, endless free online porn to rev the engines… and [Viagra type drugs] to overcome the most common physical limitations for men.

What hasn’t changed, is that sex remains as exhilarating as it was for our ancestors. In fact, a safe, consensual romp with a loving and appropriate partner is one of life’s…delight with no downside…and pure, free fun.

 

Yet there is a slump. Nearly 20% of 18- to 29-year-old’s reported having no sex at all in 2016, an almost 50% rise over those who were celibate in 2000. “The downward trend is very real,” says Philip Cohen, a sociology professor at University of Maryland, College Park.

 

Jean Twenge, professor of psychology, San Diego State University wrote a much-cited paper for the Archives of Sexual Behavior about this downturn, says one big reason is marriage—…. Married people… have more sex than single people of the same age… because they’re already going to bed with someone who …is  having sex with them. The supply side of the equation is solved, only the demand side is a riddle.

 

What has remained constant, while the number of 20-something spouses has dropped. And increasingly, young people are eschewing having a relationship with one partner, and instead hanging out with a loosely assorted group of friends…[results] less convenience sex is going on.” says Twenge. “So there’s a larger proportion of people in their early 20s who are not having sex at all.”

 

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Married folks, are falling down on the job too. “The number one issue being, says couples therapist Ian Kerner, author of the book She Comes First. -is “discrepant libido and low libido and no libido.”

Twenge’s study shows that the highest drop in sexual frequency has been among married people with higher levels of education... This may be …child-centric family anxiety. “We know there’s more parenting anxiety,” says Cohen. “That could be turning into generalized family stress.”

Seems, only the 60-somethings are bucking the trend…Unlike the retirees who came before them, they’re putting the sex back in sexagenarian, with an average coital frequency that is slightly higher than in two decades earlier.

 Many couples have perfectly good reasons for not having sex: they’re exhausted, they’re unwell, they have too much else to do, or the kids are in the bed with them.

 

The trend for using beds for other activities beside sleeping and making whoopee is so robust …“We’re one of the few species that mate face to face,” says Sue Johnson, a Canadian psychotherapist and couples technique counselor: “And face to face interactions seem to be going down everywhere. We turn to technology instead of to people….”  The sex toy industry has been growing briskly and is worth about $15 billion annually. Astonishing numbers of hours of pornography are being consumed online. And VR porn is taking off… Some neuroscientists have argued that for some people, heavy porn consumption can recondition the brain’s arousal circuitry to respond more to the screen than a human.

 

Therapists have noticed the shifting dynamics in both male and female patients…” Another complicating factor is the changing conversation around consent and sexual advances, shaped by the ‘MeToo’ movement. Matt, along with other struggling sexual partners interviewed as background for this story, expresses uncertainty about where the boundaries lie. “There was always the question in my mind, am I being unreasonable?” Matt says… This adds a layer of complexity to a subject that couple are already notoriously bad at, talking about [Sex]. “I do think that conversations around consent, and what consent is, are becoming much more real,” says Lori Brotto, a Canadian  Professor at UBC in research of Women's Sexual Health. Brotto. ... “This can mean that [male]partners are initiating less [sex], that they’re sitting back and waiting for the female to initiate. And then feeling rejected when they don’t.”

 

One of the more alarming discoveries to emerge so far is the large number of women for whom sex is actually painful. “One in five young women 18 to 29 experience chronic pain during sex,” says Natalie Rosen, a psychologist and associate professor at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia… Rosen found that a third of women never mentioned it to their partners because they were ashamed, felt inadequate or feared being dumped. “Or they end the relationship preemptively without telling their partner why,”

 

womans Work.jpg

Gender dynamics are having an impact too. One of the oldest and sturdiest reasons for abstinence: mates are not finding each other attractive. Review that looked at sexual frequency and chore distribution found... We are interested in that which we are lacking, thus household chores should be gender specific. …Other studies found that in homes where guys pitch in more women are less stressed, less resentful and therefore... their relationship is better. A study released in April from the University of Utah found: Men who share the grocery shopping report more sexual satisfaction than men who don’t, but if they do more cleaning and laundry than their spouses, sexual frequency goes down. For women, washing up was the libido killer.

Sharing the House work.jpg

The lead researcher, Dan Carlson, at the University, an assistant professor of family and consumer studies, found: “Homes with more traditional gender roles have sex more often because the men get to make the call as to whether there will be any knocking of boots. And homes which are really egalitarian also have more sex because the couples are communicating better...People wanting a egalitarian marriage…are happier when they can achieve one,” Carlson says. It’s the murky middle, those couples that desire gender equality but haven’t quite perfected it, who are sleeping facing the wall.

 

 

More prosaic reasons for desire discrepancy, ….the unhappy situation in which one partner wants a lot more sex than the other- .,, from genetics to upbringing to hormonal changes to sexual history to general healthiness. Higher rates of obesity, for obese men are more likely to be impotent. “There are health implications,” says Maryland’s Cohen, “and there is the social self-image, feeling attractive...”

The Galatian Suicide photo shared by William Floyd

The Galatian Suicide photo shared by William Floyd

 

Then there’s the public health epidemic: depression. “Seen in every national probability study is that depression rises to the top as a leading causes of low desire, specifically,” says Brotto. Treating depression can further hurt desire; many common medications for depression, such as SSRIs, are known to lower libido.

 

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Might people have become less happy since the turn of the millennium? Twenge thinks so. Another of her papers found that general happiness among those over 30 had dropped markedly since 2000. There could be any number of reasons for the fall, but one intriguing suggestion is that the economic trends that have shaped the current political climate may also have affected our more intimate relations. A 2011 study from the University of Virginia that analyzed GSS data between 1972 and 2008 found that Americans reported being happier in the years when income inequality was at its least fierce. Not because they were richer, the study suggested, but because times seemed fairer. Many more American workers have had to embrace erratic work schedules because of the 24/7 work economy. That makes it hard for couples to spend time together.

 

 

Economic pressure might also explain why young people have experienced the steepest falloff in sexual activity. Millennials and the generation below them, sometimes known as Gen Z, have suffered more in the great recession. Young men, especially, are finding it harder to find jobs; more than a third of 18 to 34-year-old Americans are living with their parents, an arrangement usually mutually exclusive with having a stellar sex life.

 

“I think it’s important to consider that this might not be bad.”

 

All of this, Twenge believes, may be leading to a generation of young people who are not interested in partnering up, who are moving away from pair bonding into the sexual equivalent of a gig economy. Instead of having a job or steady relationship, people have to find their own opportunities. “The theme that comes up over and over [among young people] is the increase in individualism,” says Twenge. “More focus on the self and less on social rules.” That would explain both the openness around sexuality and the drop in actual sex.

Escape into Reality by Michal Trpak

Escape into Reality by Michal Trpak

 

 

Whatever the causes, say therapists, the solutions don’t change. Couples need to figure out their sexual needs and wants, communicate them and perhaps put down their phones for a while. That doesn’t always mean having more sex. Cohen notes that the drop in the rate of sex has not been accompanied by a rise in divorce. “I could imagine a positive scenario where people communicate more and better within relationships now and the low interest partner talks the high interest partner out of it and they’re happier,” he says. “I think it’s important to consider that this might not be bad.”

 

This was the key for Matt and his wife. “Sometimes there’s still a libido mismatch,” he says of his marriage now. “And not every week or month is perfect, but my wife and I have learned to communicate better, and we’ve both learned to listen better.” Things are going so well that they recently decided the time was right to try to start a family and in October they found out they were pregnant.

 

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Conversation, it seems, is the most powerful type of foreplay. “If you want me to give my advice to the American public about this, it would be, ‘Talk to each other about sex,’” says Klein. “Talk to each other about how you want to feel. Do you want to feel attractive? Do you want to feel desired? Do you want to feel young? Do you want to feel graceful?” And then you have to decide if you’re willing to put the work in, he adds. “Gourmet sex is like gourmet cooking,” he says. “They don’t happen without focus.”

Tools for the Self Directed Life

Developing Mental Toughness. 

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Under my other voices heading I present to you an article,  brought to my attention by one of my clients on obtaining objectives and success through consistency. 

The article or blog was called "The Science of Developing Mental Toughness in Your Health, Work, and Life."  by blogger James Clear. whos work and be read on JamesClear.com
 

Have you ever wondered what makes someone a good athlete? Or a good leader? Or a good parent? Why do some people accomplish their goals while others fail?

What makes the difference?

Usually we answer these questions by talking about the talent of top performers. He must be the smartest scientist in the lab. She’s faster than everyone else on the team. He is a brilliant business strategist.

But I think we all know there is more to the story than that.

In fact, when you start looking into it, your talent and your intelligence don’t play nearly as big of a role as you might think. The research studies that I have found say that intelligence only accounts for 30% of your achievement — and that’s at the extreme upper end.

What makes a bigger impact than talent or intelligence? Mental toughness.

Research is starting to reveal that your mental toughness — or “grit” as they call it — plays a more important role than anything else for achieving your goals in health, business, and life. That’s good news because you can’t do much about the genes you were born with, but you can do a lot to develop mental toughness.

Why is mental toughness so important? And how can you develop more of it?

Let’s talk about that now.

Mental Toughness and The United States Military

Sun Run  Fort Bragg, N.C., Army photo by Sgt. Gin-Sophie De Bellotte

Sun Run  Fort Bragg, N.C., Army photo by Sgt. Gin-Sophie De Bellotte

Each year, approximately 1,300 cadets join the entering class at the United States Military Academy, West Point. During their first summer on campus, cadets are required to complete a series of brutal tests. This summer initiation program is known internally as “Beast Barracks.”

In the words of researchers who have studied West Point cadets, “Beast Barracks is deliberately engineered to test the very limits of cadets’ physical, emotional, and mental capacities.”

You might imagine that the cadets who successfully complete Beast Barracks are bigger, stronger, or more intelligent than their peers. But Angela Duckworth, a researcher at the University of Pennsylvania, found something different when she began tracking the cadets.

Duckworth studies achievement, and more specifically, how your mental toughness, perseverance, and passion impact your ability to achieve goals. At West Point, she tracked a total of 2,441 cadets spread across two entering classes. She recorded their high school rank, SAT scores, Leadership Potential Score (which reflects participation in extracurricular activities), Physical Aptitude Exam (a standardized physical exercise evaluation), and Grit Scale (which measures perseverance and passion for long–term goals).

Here’s what she found out…

It wasn’t strength or smarts or leadership potential that accurately predicted whether or not a cadet would finish Beast Barracks. Instead, it was grit — the perseverance and passion to achieve long–term goals — that made the difference.

In fact, cadets who were one standard deviation higher on the Grit Scale were 60% more likely to finish Beast Barracks than their peers. It was mental toughness that predicted whether or not a cadet would be successful, not their talent, intelligence, or genetics.

When Is Mental Toughness Useful?

National Spelling Bee

National Spelling Bee

 

Duckworth’s research has revealed the importance of mental toughness in a variety of fields.

In addition to the West Point study, she discovered that…

  • Ivy League undergraduate students who had more grit also had higher GPAs than their peers — even though they had lower SAT scores and weren’t as “smart.”
  • When comparing two people who are the same age but have different levels of education, grit (and not intelligence) more accurately predicts which one will be better educated.
  • Competitors in the National Spelling Bee outperform their peers not because of IQ, but because of their grit and commitment to more consistent practice.

And it’s not just education where mental toughness and grit are useful. Duckworth and her colleagues heard similar stories when they started interviewing top performers in all fields…

Our hypothesis that grit is essential to high achievement evolved during interviews with professionals in investment banking, painting, journalism, academia, medicine, and law. Asked what quality distinguishes star performers in their respective fields, these individuals cited grit or a close synonym as often as talent. In fact, many were awed by the achievements of peers who did not at first seem as gifted as others but whose sustained commitment to their ambitions was exceptional. Likewise, many noted with surprise that prodigiously gifted peers did not end up in the upper echelons of their field.

—Angela Duckworth

You have probably seen evidence of this in your own experiences. Remember your friend who squandered their talent? How about that person on your team who squeezed the most out of their potential? Have you known someone who was set on accomplishing a goal, no matter how long it took?

You can read the whole research study here, but this is the bottom line:

In every area of life — from your education to your work to your health — it is your amount of grit, mental toughness, and perseverance that predicts your level of success more than any other factor we can find.

In other words, talent is overrated.

What Makes Someone Mentally Tough?

1936 Olympic workout of Jesse Owens and Frank Wykoff

1936 Olympic workout of Jesse Owens and Frank Wykoff

It’s great to talk about mental toughness, grit, and perseverance … but what do those things actually look like in the real world?

In a word, toughness and grit equal consistency.

Mentally tough athletes are more consistent than others. They don’t miss workouts. They don’t miss assignments. They always have their teammates back.

Mentally tough leaders are more consistent than their peers. They have a clear goal that they work towards each day. They don’t let short–term profits, negative feedback, or hectic schedules prevent them from continuing the march towards their vision. They make a habit of building up the people around them — not just once, but over and over and over again.

Mentally tough artists, writers, and employees deliver on a more consistent basis than most. They work on a schedule, not just when they feel motivated. They approach their work like a pro, not an amateur. They do the most important thing first and don’t shirk responsibilities.

The good news is that grit and perseverance can become your defining traits, regardless of the talent you were born with. You can become more consistent. You can develop superhuman levels of mental toughness.

How?

In my experience, these 3 strategies work well in the real world…

1. Define what mental toughness means for you.

For the West Point army cadets being mentally tough meant finishing an entire summer of Beast Barracks.

For you, it might be…

  • going one month without missing a workout
  • going one week without eating processed or packaged food
  • delivering your work ahead of schedule for two days in a row
  • meditating every morning this week
  • grinding out one extra rep on each set at the gym today
  • calling one friend to catch up every Saturday this month
  • spending one hour doing something creative every evening this week

Whatever it is, be clear about what you’re going after. Mental toughness is an abstract quality, but in the real world it’s tied to concrete actions. You can’t magically think your way to becoming mentally tough, you prove it to yourself by doing something in real life.

Which brings me to my second point…

2. Mental toughness is built through small physical wins.

You can’t become committed or consistent with a weak mind. How many workouts have you missed because your mind, not your body, told you you were tired? How many reps have you missed out on because your mind said, “Nine reps is enough. Don’t worry about the tenth.” Probably thousands for most people, including myself. And 99% are due to weakness of the mind, not the body.

—Drew Shamrock

So often we think that mental toughness is about how we respond to extreme situations. How did you perform in the championship game? Can you keep your life together while grieving the death of a family member? Did you bounce back after your business went bankrupt?

There’s no doubt that extreme situations test our courage, perseverance, and mental toughness … but what about everyday circumstances?

Mental toughness is like a muscle. It needs to be worked to grow and develop. If you haven’t pushed yourself in thousands of small ways, of course you’ll wilt when things get really difficult.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Choose to do the tenth rep when it would be easier to just do nine. Choose to create when it would be easier to consume. Choose to ask the extra question when it would be easier to accept. Prove to yourself — in a thousand tiny ways — that you have enough guts to get in the ring and do battle with life.

Mental toughness is built through small wins. It’s the individual choices that we make on a daily basis that build our “mental toughness muscle.” We all want mental strength, but you can’t think your way to it. It’s your physical actions that prove your mental fortitude.

3. Mental toughness is about your habits, not your motivation.

Photo Artist Jason Beamguard during  his Book Challenge 2018

Photo Artist Jason Beamguard during  his Book Challenge 2018

Motivation is fickle. Willpower comes and goes.

Mental toughness isn’t about getting an incredible dose of inspiration or courage. It’s about building the daily habits that allow you to stick to a schedule and overcome challenges and distractions over and over and over again.

Mentally tough people don’t have to be more courageous, more talented, or more intelligent — just more consistent. Mentally tough people develop systems that help them focus on the important stuff regardless of how many obstacles life puts in front of them. It’s their habits that form the foundation of their mental beliefs and ultimately set them apart.

I’ve written about this many times before. Here are the basic steps for building a new habit and links to further information on doing each step.

  1. Start by building your identity.
  2. Focus on small behaviors, not life–changing transformations.
  3. Develop a routine that gets you going regardless of how motivated you feel.
  4. Stick to the schedule and forget about the results.
  5. When you slip up, get back on track as quickly as possible.

Mental toughness comes down to your habits. It’s about doing the things you know you’re supposed to do on a more consistent basis. It’s about your dedication to daily practice and your ability to stick to a schedule.

How Have You Developed Mental Toughness?

Artist Juan Coronado photo of Actor/Model Jimmy Flint-Smith

Artist Juan Coronado photo of Actor/Model Jimmy Flint-Smith

Our mission as a community is clear: we are looking to live healthy lives and make a difference in the world.

To that end, I see it as my responsibility to equip you with the best information, ideas, and strategies for living healthier, becoming happier, and making a bigger impact with your life and work.

But no matter what strategies we discuss, no matter what goals we set our sights on, no matter what vision we have for ourselves and the people around us … none of it can become a reality without mental toughness, perseverance, and grit.

When things get tough for most people, they find something easier to work on. When things get difficult for mentally tough people, they find a way to stay on schedule.

There will always be extreme moments that require incredible bouts of courage, resiliency, and grit … but for 95% of the circumstances in life, toughness simply comes down to being more consistent than most people. 
 

What Does Moving Out of Your Comfort Zone Feel Like

One Man’s Experience Of Moving Out Of His Comfort Zone
Shared by Calvin Harris. H. W. M.

Model Dominique Claude Marneau,  by German Photo Artist Mario Dollinger  in Paris France

Model Dominique Claude Marneau,  by German Photo Artist Mario Dollinger  in Paris France

What is your comfort zone? Well, a simplistic answer would be anything that keeps us away from feeling or experiencing uncomfortable degrees of mental or physical stress or elevated levels of anxiety. 

Yet many mental health practitioners suggest being able to get out of your comfort zone is actually a healthy thing to do, it can increase your agility and  mental fitness.  That in turn can widens the perimeter of your comfort zone.  The Business world seems increasingly competitive, yet those with mental agility seem to survive and prosper in any economy. When we look at the world, in general, we see that the quality of life has an uncertainty about it thus causing fear and stress as an intricate part of modern life. those who have repeatedly step out of their comfort zone are in a better position to deal with sudden and unexpected change.

One way to expand your comfort zone is by taking controlled risks and doing things you normally would not do, such as a change of routine. Engaging change makes us flexible to new possibilities and to novelty. Novelty can stimulates those brain chemicals that make us feel happy and continues to motivates new discovery.

 

 Corey Levitan is the writer in this feature article for SOC,  in our section know as 'Other Voices.' 

Maxim 2018

Maxim 2018

Corey originally wrote this piece for Maxim magazine,  in January  2016, as a writer on assignment, but what he wrote was in a way, not the usual fare that Maxim magazine doles out to its readers.  Certainly not the usually representation on the concept of love.

He writes about himself and about an expanded concept called Love, but by his stepping out of his comfort zone he stepped into a Universal Truth about love and empathy, that would  takes on even a different spelling of the word Love - A G A P E.


Yes, Corey's story was somewhat dis-comfortable for him, but Corey’s experience also allowed him to slow down. Ponder, look around, observe, absorb and interpret everything he’d experience with a expanded vision. 

 
 “There is only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that's your own self.” - Aldous Huxley

I WAS A PROFESSIONAL MAN SNUGGLER

Our intrepid correspondent investigates the warm and fuzzy world of cuddling for cash. By COREY LEVITAN,  for Maxim Magazine JAN 27, 2016

Corey.jpg

The author pictured in mid-snuggle with his client.

I’m a straight man. I watch sports, surf Pornhub, and I’m married to a lovely woman who sometimes even agrees to have sex with me.

But recently, I agreed to the strangest intimate experience of my life: I was chosen to snuggle by a beefy dude who spotted my photo on a professional cuddling site.

Let me explain. I pitched this stunt to Maxim as an exploration of the weird world of professional cuddlers. Non-sexual cuddling was supposedly created in 2004 by two New York City relationship coaches as a way to reintroduce intimacy to young people living increasing percentages of their lives online.

Their “Cuddle Parties” were so successful, cuddle-preneurs began offering up stables of solo practitioners. Snuggle Buddies, run by 28-year-old Evan Carp out of his New Jersey home, advertises more than 230 cuddlers in 39 states, 99 percent of whom are female. But Carp agreed to list me as “Holden” — Get it? Holdin’? — his ninth male cuddler. The service costs $80 per hour, or $324 for an overnight, with a 50/50 Carp/cuddler split.

I was seriously hoping the first person to request Holden would be a woman. (Did I mention seriously?) But unsurprisingly, it turned out to be a big, gay dude.

“Just relax, it won’t hurt as much,” one friend commented on my Facebook update about the booking. Other helpful comments included: “Something seems seriously wrong about this” and “Dude, you’re gonna get fucked.” 

Steven (not his real name) is in his mid-40s and, like me, lives in Las Vegas. He works in advertising and his hobbies apparently include, judging by the size of his arms, hitting the gym way more than I do.

After he welcomed me into his apartment and poured two Chardonnays, we awkwardly tried getting to know each other. Steven had never professionally cuddled before, either, and we laughed nervously about the fact that both of us will be able to continue making this claim.

“I just saw the word snuggle and thought it was different,” he told me. “I could have called an escort if I wanted a fuck. I’ve had that before and I didn’t want that.”

Steven had an awful 2015. He lost his job and his shoulder to lean on about it because his boyfriend dumped him. He’s new to town and doesn’t know many people—certainly not anyone willing to serve up some no-strings-attached snuggling.

“I just wanted an emotional connection,” he explained.

He motioned me over to his leather living-room couch, where I sat down on the far end. Steven’s head fell onto my chest. It was heavier than it looked, and warmer. In fact, it quickly heated up the Arizona State football jersey I wore to telegraph my unwavering heterosexuality.

My hands rested on his chest, frozen. I admitted that I was uncomfortable because I didn’t know how to move them without indicating sexual interest. Steven laughed. 

“You don’t have to move them,” he said, looking up at me upside-down. “I just want you to hold me and talk to me.”

I asked Steven why he picked me for his first paid snugglefest. I braced myself for a compliment about my handsomeness, the kind I only hear from my wife when I wear a suit. 

“You were the only one local,” he replied. (Oh, I didn’t realize. I felt relieved that he wasn’t super attracted to me, although a little insulted, too.)

Sensing my anxiety, Steven then pointed at the lack of a bulge in his sweatpants.

“It’s nothing sexual, see?” he said. (In fact, Snuggle Buddies make all cuddle-ees sign a contract promising that no sexual activity of any kind will occur—even kissing.)

After about 10 minutes, I began to relax. It started to feel very safe and nice, actually—like that Friends episode where Joey and Ross accidentally take a nap together, freak out about it, then decide that they kind of like it. 

Science would seem to back them up. According to 350 studies published over the past 20 years, touching other humans delivers emotional and physiological benefits, including lower blood pressure and cortisol levels. The journal Psychological Science even reported that cuddling can boost the immune systems of people exposed to the common cold.

Steven and I chatted about the things we hate in serious relationships. Even with his ex-boyfriend, snuggling was a rarity because any touching was misconstrued for a sexual advance. He tells me some other things about his ex that suggest he was an abusive asshole, and when I use that description, my right knee receives a pat of appreciation.

Soon, strangely, it was me who needed this as much as Steven. I thought about all the guys I embrace in my life, including some of my best friends, who always pull away from a bro-hug after about two seconds --recoiling due to our society’s wrongheaded sexualization of the male embrace.

I realize that my first five minutes on Steven’s couch amounted to more physical intimacy than I’ve ever shared with my own father, the man I love more than anyone else on Earth. And I’m usually the one breaking off the hug when we greet each other. Why? (This saddens and angers me because he’s getting very old and we probably don’t have many greetings left.) 

My ringing iPhone interrupts this flood of insight. It’s the 45-minute mark and, as planned, my buddy Adam Brooks is calling to make sure I don’t say “kettle corn.” (That’s my safe word.)

The tough-guy star of TV’s Sin City Bounty Hunters has been waiting outside in the car, in case things got out of hand. You know, in the way they might when you’re inside a complete stranger’s house after posting a sketchy online ad, and you’re hoping not to get sexually molested or perhaps even cuddled to death.

Now that I know how harmless Steve is, I feel like a total dick for bringing along my own personal snuggle pimp. But, nice guy that Steve is, he pretends the phone call never happened and we wrap up the hour by uncuddling and saying our goodbyes. I tell him I hope he got what he wanted out of that. 

“I know you did,” he says.

Very true. My dad’s getting a bear hug when he visits next week.

Email him at coreylevitan@gmail.com

 

 

The Question Will Make Your Problem More Interesting

This Question Will Make Your Problems More Interesting
Limitations shouldn’t stop you from winning

Under my other voices heading I present to you an article,  brought to my attention by friend Michael Kelley a fellow collaborator on male educational objectives and experiences. Michael resides in Atlanta Georgia.

Gustavo Razzetti is the blog writer of this article that was found in Medium Digest. 
Razzetti is an Author and Speaker. Who calls himself “a Change Instigator. Culture Transformation & Innovation Strategist.”  He has a new Book and you can find it at http://bit.ly/StretchChange

 

Le Mans race Audi diesel car winner and crew

Le Mans race Audi diesel car winner and crew

Audi was in desperate need to win the 2006 edition of the 24 hours of Le Mans race. The competition is not only one of the most prestigious car races in the world — its outcome can make or break a carmaker’s reputation.

However, Audi was in real trouble: its car was not fast enough.

Until one question changed everything. The Audi team went from not having the fastest car to winning the 24-hours Le Mans race three years in a row.

If you were to design a race car, you’d probably want to build the fastest one possible, right?

Interestingly enough, Audi took a different approach. One that brought to life the power of accepting constraints. And turned them into a superpower, not a limitation.

The Story of an Interesting Question

Interesting questions trigger thought-provoking conversations — that’s what Audi did by reframing its challenge.

“How could we win Le Mans if our car could go no faster than anyone else’s?”Audis chief engineer asked.

The chief engineer’s question not only removed the excuse— not having the fastest car should not stop them from winning. He also reframed the challenge into a more interesting one.

Rather than worrying about the speed of the car, Audi’s team had to discover other ways to win the race.

The 24 hours of Le Mans is one of the most challenging races. Teams have to deal with physical and mental fatigue while balancing demanding speeds with keeping their car running for a full day.

The design team came up with a simple yet powerful solution: a fuel-efficient car. Audi turned conventional wisdom upside down by using a diesel engine for the first time. By reducing the amount of pit stops, the racing team saved significant time — they could never make up that time by increasing engine power.

The engineering team approached Le Mans as an endurance competition —one closer to a marathon than a sprint.

This new perspective helped Audi win Le Mans three years in a row.

Limitations shouldn’t stop you from winning

Winning is not just about what you do during the race. Everything that you do leading to that day matters. That mentality helped Audi turn its constraints into creative fuel.

Most people see their constraints as limiting. When their resources are scarce, they feel limited.

However, not being the ‘fastest car’ shouldn’t prevent you from winning.

Everyone has limitations. Winning is not about having all the resources; it’s about outsmarting your competition.

Don’t let your constraints define you. That’s the purpose of this one question — turn your constraints into a superpower.

“How can you win if ‘your car’ is not faster than everyone else’s?”

Apply this mentality to solve both personal and work challenges.

How can you win if you are NOT…

… the smartest guy in the room?

… the one with the strongest network?

… the most well-known expert?

… the (add the limitation you want)?

The point is: don’t get stuck in the “I can’t win” mode just because of your constraints.

When you focus on what you lack, you become a victim.

“Why is this happening to me?” — You might ask yourself. You feel life is unfair and let one constraint define your future. And, eventually, you give up.

You can opt to fight back. However, this is an endless battle. Being obsessed over defeating your constraints takes your focus away.

Instead of fighting your limitations, ask more interesting questions. Like Audi’s chief engineer did.

Take ownership — accept your limitations rather than wasting your time fighting reality. Your purpose is not to defeat your constraints but to achieve your goals. Ask yourself: “How can I win the race even if I’m not the fastest?” Focus on turning a constraint into a superpower.

Outsmart others by reframing how you will win the race.

Moving from being a victim to hero is not easy. It requires self-awareness; to stop comparing to others and challenge what you can do differently.

When you can’t win within normal conditions, rewrite the rules.

Reframe your challenges into interesting ones

Focus on the opportunity, not on your limitations.

When you try to get more of what you lack— resources, support, budget, time, etc. — you get stuck in trying to solve the wrong problem.

Reframing the problem will help you uncover a more interesting one to solve.

Audi’s chief engineer turned a constraint (speed) into a superpower (energy efficiency). He reframed the problem from “we are not faster than others” to “how can we win without being the fastest.”

Reframing the challenge is half of the solution. When you stop thinking about your weaknesses, you stop comparing to others.

This question will help you reframe a constraint and turn it into a challenge: “How might I achieve (a goal) even though I lack (a limitation)?”

Reframe your challenge into a more interesting one.

Become the hero of your own narrative. Focus your creativity on the right problem. Your goal is not to build the fastest car, your goal is to win the race.

Turn your limitations in your favor rather than surrendering to them.

A Writer Writes

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Scott Keene a writer in the Long Beach, CA. Library Writing Group. His writing many of you have read on this site and communicated to me how much you enjoyed it.

You now can read more of him at your leisure, and for those of you who have wondered about our writing process, can also go to Scott’s new blog pages where he goes into easy to understand descriptions of how we come up with what we write.

So as Scott says, “he will use blog space to write about his writing….to write scenes. He creates a mood, places an image in the reader's mind and let the imagination do the rest…. You might get a glimpse of another person's life, but only for a few moments. You're left with an impression.

Happy or sad. Disturbed or terrified. Perhaps completely disinterested.

But, this blogger hopes, never bored."

You can find more of Scott's work on his blog page somelikeitscott
 

My Favorite Bar By Marni Spencer-Devlin

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"Something unique and outside of the box done by one of the exceptional writers of the  Long Beach Library Coffeehouse's, Writing Group - Author MarniSpencer-Devlin. who took the writing prompt of the day,  called 'My Favorite Bar'-  and made it her own."
- Calvin Harris, H.W.,M
Photo by Artisit Juan Coronado

Photo by Artisit Juan Coronado

What makes a bar a favorite? In most cases it isn’t the beautiful or stylish interior, is it? Most bars are quite the opposite of stylish, or even clean, for that matter. Sticky floors, sticky counters, sticky toilets – everything most people would abhor in their regular life so what can make a bar a favorite place to be? It’s the people. Cheers had it right – the place where everybody knows your name. Where people know you and your foibles, and they still want to hang out with you! The place where you feel accepted and maybe even appreciated for being you. It doesn’t get any better than that. It’s what life is really all about.

The Long Beach Library Coffee House.jpg

For me that place isn’t really even a bar. It’s the Library – and it’s not a library either. It’s a funny excuse for a coffee house with mismatched furniture and a perpetually stinky, unisex bathroom. But it’s the place where my beloved writer buddies hang out with me. Once a week, or as often as we can. But when it comes together it’s the best day of the week.

 

 

Photo by Calvin Harris

Photo by Calvin Harris

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Writing is a funny thing when it’s done right. It’s an intimate, bare-all, no-holds-barred, kind-of-thing. Where you put yourself out there, courageously, and you write what’s in your soul for all the world to see. It could be a scary place but it is isn’t when you’re around a group of similar miscreants who similarity put themselves out there with courage and talent and heart and soul. It’s the stuff that life is made of. Most don’t ever get to experience that much fun. Because they don’t have the guts to go there. Because they make excuses not to. But my buddies make time and show up and are there. And I appreciate them all so much and they me.

Ironic that all that would be found in a usually dark, dank, sticky place with crooked furniture. Life’s messy, I guess. Isn’t that what makes it so fun, after all?

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Converging Male Dialog by Michael Kelly, H. W., and Calvin Harris H. W., M.

Just about weekly Michael Kelly and Calvin Harris have a conversation. Those of you who have met them know they are very, very different people. You could say If the Male perspective was viewed as a crystal formed prism,  Then Michael and Calvin, each is a facet that forms a different side of the optical element, that refract independent light or insights. Now like a prism, they have at least two surface angles in common, between them. Besides being male, Michael and Calvin are both Truth seekers, who studied in the Prosperos School of Ontology and have been friends for over 40 years.

Michael sent to Calvin,  a film review from the New York Times, by Ben Kenigsberg, Sept. 26, 2017.  The film was called: “I Am Another You” a documentary made by a Chinese woman, Nanfu Wang. It was a portrait of a young man, early 20's called Dylan,  who has chosen living on the street as a way of life that gives him the most freedom. This idea of freedom is important for Wang. She emigrated to the US both to escape the conformity of Chinese society and the oppression of the Chinese government, and to explore the particularly American idea of freedom. It is the idea of freedom that she wants to explore in her film. Dylan makes a perfect subject for her to do this with for he, in many ways, is Counterpoint to cultural concepts she has about Freedom.                                                                             

Michael felt, that like life,  the film revealed in stages a multi-layered portrait of the young man Dylan and his lifestyle. In Part 1 the film shows how strangers were magnetically attracted to him, as Wang was. In Part 2 of the film, issues that Dylan has were focused in on and is called into question, as Dylan's history is revealed to Wang. Part 3 of the film, Wang gives yet another view of Dylan, a fuller picture, that Wang and her co-editor have managed to present in an organic and completely natural way, even to the point of including  Wang's own changes in view and her second thoughts regarding Freedom. 

Nanfu Wang Photo

Nanfu Wang Photo

Beyond the Film


MK:    Looking at the pics of Dylan I recall seeing many young men and woman on the streets in the 60s and 70s who had something similar about them. Because of this I was quite ready to accept Wang’s initial view of Dylan, and found his lifestyle totally believable. Even finding people willing to be generous with their food, money, or shelter was not a surprise. 
    I hitchhiked a lot in those days between Boulder (school, post-school) and California (mythical land of freedom), or Boulder and Atlanta (parents) and benefitted many times from people’s generosity. Unlike Dylan I was genuinely grateful, seeing it as the kind of luck that has often come my way, and helping me on my way. In this too I was unlike Dylan: I was always going somewhere for some reason, whereas Dylan’s professed goal is simply being in the moment, free of ordinary life.  
Calvin:    I think it’s interesting that you seem to feel like an observer of Dylan and the youth culture he represents, as if they are outside of your raeality. But really you were that face in the 1970s as I saw you. The same length of hair, the same ambivalence to what would be called "authority," that same openness to new experiences even though it would stretch or change the codes of conduct and sexuality as presented to you as 1950s doctrine up until this time.
    You had that same desire for freedom to live life as you saw fit. That same look for adventure to travel the country and the world for new truths, for new ways to be, new ways to find and define youself. In California it was from the Streets and  Hills of Hollywood to Santa Monica and Venice Beach and It was the music, even some wine and Mary Jane to ease you into the evenin, yet it was for that sense of feeling whole and being inclusive that bought your search to the Prosperos Community.. 
    Yes, that search for Truth of idenity beyond finite male and matter, that like in the book , "the glass bead game", That  lead you up that stairway in Santa Monica, Ca. To the Prosperos. Those stairs, in many ways were more than just an entry into The Game of Life, (a reference to Hermann Hesse book) but for you a chance at "self mastery" and a excepting community, the Prosperos.

 
Nanfu Wang Photo

Nanfu Wang Photo

MK: I recall a period in 1970 when I probably looked just like Dylan. I had flown to Hawaii as the first leg in a trip to Japan for the World’s Fair, arriving with essentially zero dollars, and the feeling of adventure you mention. I lived on the beach for awhile, and had plenty of company. I recall a young woman who had the same kind of effect on me as Dylan had on filmmaker Wang. I guess ‘scruffy’ would sum up how I looked from the outside, but on the inside I really was having the time of my life!
 
Calvin: Yes, Yes I see we are out of time for this visit until next time. I will say Big Hug and  Aloha. 

Calvin while going about the rest of his day reflected on the people who had come into his life. Coming together taking time to know one another, building community with purpose and meaning and then reflecting on the amazing thing that happened and were produced because of our being together. He smiled and picked up the watering hose and did a light soaking of the new spouts coming up in the flowerbed.