The Hard Hat

Have fun, Live longer

You know, having fun has never been a problem for me. Give me a piece of string and a stick and I can entertain myself for hours. Now that I live in the modern age of wide screen televisions, broadband connections and computer gaming, I have to work really hard at being bored. Ironically, it is all the high tech gadgets and gizmos at my disposal that are directly contributing to my demise. Why, you may ask are these modern conveniences contributing to all our demises? Well, for one thing they are just that, convenient. One doesn’t have to DO much of anything to be entertained. For another, during this uninvolved entertainment one is more than likely sitting and probably mindlessly munching and or drinking something that is not good for the body.

I recently watched a commercial for a popular beverage that shows a guy taking “baby steps” to try to improve his health. You see the guy sitting in a recliner. Then in a pathetic attempt to show his new interest in physical fitness he lowers his footrest and keeps his legs out for about three seconds then breathlessly puts the footrest back up and sinks into the chair in exhaustion. The part that made me take notice was that nagging voice in my head saying “geez, that’s me!”. This recognition was quickly followed by the equally disturbing question “when was the last time I took a walk or heaven forbid, worked out?” Funny how my clothes have been tight lately, must be leaving them in the dryer too long. The fact is, I have been gaining weight and that is not good for my health. We are in a country that is increasingly growing larger around the middle and it is time we just plain stopped it. Getting off our collective butts and going out and having some fun is the solution. Men tend to be less on the out and about track and more on the in and relaxing track. What we have to do is change our behavior, one step at a time.

For the most part, no one likes change. It is not easy to go against what the habit has been. Guys tend to avoid change like the plague because it takes us out of our comfort zone. But like any journey the one to better health, both physically and emotionally, starts with a single step. To that end I am going to make a suggestion to all of you that you decide here and now that you will take better care of yourself and your health and that you start to do this by taking one small step. Not the type of small step our friend in the commercial took, but a sincere step toward a better lifestyle. Now, being a man I understand that the whole motivation thing is a problem. I’m lucky, my motivation for most things comes in the form of my wife Char and her trusty 2x4 to the back of my head. She claims I can be a bit stubborn and resistant to change. She also is one smart cookie and when her efforts at being nice fail, she resorts to dirty tactics and pulls out that whole “reality” thing. She has this way of hitting me right between the eyes with “the facts”. Like the fact that most men live an average of 7 years less than their wives. The fact that most men die of diseases or complications that were almost entirely within their power to change with a little effort. The fact that taking two 15 minute breaks a day and walking around the block, office building or parking lot adds up to a 30 minute heart healthy aerobic workout, no added calories from the vending machine, a reduced stress level and a clearer head for the rest of the work day. And the one I find most applicable to the Hard Hat Brotherhood, the fact that we are hardwired from our days as cavemen to be part of a “tribe” and that doing so in this modern age means our survival and well being just as much as it did a million or so years ago. True, we no longer have to worry about being eaten or stepped on by a dinosaur, but we do have to worry about the stress of our jobs, our family dramas, our own bad eating habits, social isolation and sedentary lifestyle killing us just as fast.

Did you know that according to many doctors an isolated lifestyle for men in particular is just plain not healthy? This also goes back to the earliest times of man. If you wanted to survive you did it as a group. Everyone relied on everyone else. Some kept watch while others slept or ate. Some hunted while others guarded the homestead. The loners withered and died while the clan who played together and stayed together ultimately survived. Same thing in the here and now, we are happiest when we share our lives and with others. Today many doctors recommend that guys join a men’s group purely for the health benefits. As much as men feel they don’t need anybody else we are social creatures and it is that communication with each other that helps keep us whole. I see it many times when I meet a new member. Many of them have no real friends. Usually it is only the people they work with and maybe have a drink with on the way home. But there is no real friendship or fellowship. For many busy men their closest friend is their wife. This is usually a matter of convenience since they live in the same place. I am not knocking this arrangement and indeed I would be lying if I said my wife was not my best friend and most trusted ally. But face it guys, the women are different than us. If you don’t believe me just ask your wife or significant other her definition of “a relationship”. I promise you, it is much different than your definition. Not better or worse, just different. Women being different is a good thing for both them and us. It is that whole balance thing. Think about it, would you want to be married to or with someone who was only the female version of you? For most of us that would give new meaning to the term “identity crisis”.

The fact of the matter is men need other men as friends. All creatures need their own kind to relate to. That is how I ended up with two neurotic cats. My wife said having just one wasn’t good because he would have no one to be friends with or to relate to. So we got two and I must admit, they are best friends and do have a version of hanging out that is exclusive to them. If even cats need this dimension of being with their own kind then admitting that we need it is not so hard. True friendship is the key. I am talking about the kind of friends you turn to when you need someone to understand what it is like to be a guy, a father, a husband or a grandfather. Someone who understands the special stresses felt at different stages in a man’s life. Someone of your own kind who can relate and speak your same language. Face it guys, we need each other. And in this time of national security crisis, war and natural disasters having a friend to hang out with or call up is the least expensive most rewarding thing you can do for your mental health. A friend to take a walk with or go hunting, bowling or play tennis with and you have improved your physical health. A friend to laugh with….well, you have hit the fountain of youth.

The Hard Hat Brotherhood is here to offer all men the opportunity to enlarge their circle of friends in a painless, easy to use, inexpensive and fun filled manner. One small step guys. That is how you start. Take that step today and join a crew or start your own. Bring a new guy to your next event. Tell someone about us. To paraphrase Neil Armstrong - one small step for you, one giant step toward having fun, better health and longer life!

©2007, Andy Smith

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Source: Andy Smith, HHBrotherhood Central, 8449 Parkridge Drive, Dexter, MI 48130, or 734.846.2283 or or

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