Men, do everything in your power to win at the things that matter most.
We are living in an era where happiness seems elusive, but people desire happiness now more than ever. In this article, I’m going to focus specifically on men’s happiness. I’ll try to talk my amazing wife Ashley into writing a companion article specifically focusing on women’s happiness.
If you’re a man reading this, I hope these insights bring you more happiness. If you’re a woman reading this, I hope this article helps you better understand the longings and motivations of your husband, your sons and the men in your life. At the end of this article, I’ll list out the Four Keys to a Man’s Happiness, but first, I need to set the stage with some recent research into men’s primary needs and desires.
No two men are the same, so it’s dangerous to assume there’s a one-size-fits-all approach to happiness. On the flipside, it’s naïve to assume we can’t learn some valuable insights from the broader trends of data from the masses. A recent study commissioned by the men’s grooming company “Harry’s” partnered with University College London to do an in-depth survey of 5000 American men from all walks of life to determine the key factors that brought happiness. The results of the study were published in “The Harry’s Masculinity Report.”
The most compelling insight from the entire study revealed the “key” to happiness among most men. It wasn’t money or physical fitness or even a great sex life. Sure, most men desire those things, but it turns out none of those factors were the most important to a man’s happiness. According to the research, the one factor that makes most men happy is (by a large margin) their job satisfaction.
Specifically, men want to know that they are respected and valued for effectively using their unique skills and talents to make a positive impact at work. They want to know they have purpose in their work and their contribution is directly benefiting a meaningful overall mission and cause. The study revealed that when a man feels satisfied in his work, he tends to be happier at home and in all other aspect of life too.
There are some dangers in taking this data out of context. When a man chooses to find all his purpose and satisfaction in his work, it can make work into an idol. When work becomes out of balance, a man’s health and his family can suffer as a result. Men tend to be drawn to pursuits where “winning” can be measured in tangible results, but it’s also important for men to understand that the most important parts of life have no “scoreboard.”
When work becomes out of balance, a man’s health and his family can suffer as a result.
There are no physical trophies given in marriage. There are no financial bonuses given for being a good Dad. There are no spreadsheets where we can measure the authenticity of our faith; and yet, these are the parts of life that matter most. There’s no amount of success outside the home that can compensate for the lack of success inside the home.
It’s wise to put all research through the lens of Scripture, so we can gain a balanced approach to the truth. The Bible has a lot to say about work and about happiness. In fact, some of the Bible’s ancient-yet-timeless wisdom seems to directly support this modern research about the importance of job satisfaction. In the Book of Ecclesiastes, King Solomon wrote, “Nothing is better for a man than that he should eat and drink, and that his soul should enjoy good in his labor. This also, I saw, was from the hand of God.” (Ecclesiastes 2:24 )
This verse is essentially telling us that part of the recipe for happiness is to enjoy the simple pleasures of life and to find satisfaction in our work. There are, of course, many other Scriptures that give us God’s plan for work, happiness, and all other parts of life. As I reflect on my own life and motivations through the lens of Scripture and research, I believe the four key factors that create happiness in men include (in no particular order):
- He wants to know he is worthy of respect and honor for his unique contributions at work, at home and in his community.
- He wants more than the monotony and predictability of the daily routine. He also craves adventure, excitement and even a bit of danger. In the words of John Eldredge, God created him to be “Wild at Heart.”
- He wants to know that his work and his values will outlive him, and future generations will be blessed because of what he’s done. He wants to know that his life has eternal significance.
- He wants to share life’s adventures with the love of his life. He wants to know the love of his family and a few loyal friends. Love is perhaps the most important of all human needs.
Through the different seasons of life, these four factors might shift in their place of priority, but all four will remain important to him throughout his life. In every season of life, men want to “win.” We want to know we’re “winning” at home, in marriage, in fatherhood, in our careers, in our faith and in all parts of life. When a man feels like he’s consistently losing, he may eventually lose hope and disconnect from everything and everyone that matters most.
Ladies, do everything in your power to help your husband win and encourage him by letting him know you see him as a winner. Your words have the power to build him up or to tear him down. Be his biggest cheerleader; not his biggest critic. Also remember that his happiness is not your responsibility. You can’t “make” him happy. Certainly, do your part to help him, but ultimately his happiness will be the result of his choices, his mindsets and his priorities.
Men, do everything in your power to win at the things that matter most. Don’t let your hobbies or career overshadow the eternal significance of your faith and your family. Keep Jesus first, your family second and everyone else will fall into place. When your heart is at peace with the Prince of Peace, then happiness and joy will follow.
Don’t let your hobbies or career overshadow the eternal significance of your faith and your family.
Remember that our identity is found in Christ and not in our pursuits or possessions. Selflessly put your wife’s happiness even ahead of your own. Never be too busy for your kids. Healthy priorities are a key to your happiness, your purpose and your legacy.