50 Rules for Being a Good Man

My father, who taught me much of what I know about being a good man.

The internet is filled with rules that men should follow. Unfortunately, many of them are loaded with frivolous and/or misogynistic bullshit. And, generally, these lists seem to focus on being a “real” man, rather than a good one. So, I decided to make up my own. Will following this list will make a good man? Probably not, but it might allow you to fake it until you make it. And, that’s not a bad place to start.

  1. Treat everyone with respect. Everyone.
  2. Remember that there are times to work hard and times to work smart. Know which is which.
  3. Do the right thing. Not for a reward, but because it’s the right thing to do.
  4. Be yourself and never let anyone shame you for it.
  5. As Mick and Keith said, “You can’t always get what you want. But, if you try sometimes, you get what you need.”
  6. Never let becoming rich and famous be your end goal. 
  7. Follow your bliss. But, understand that your bliss doesn’t have to be what you do for a living. So find value in your work, whatever it is.
  8. Never be afraid to cry. Feeling your feelings isn’t weak, it’s healthy. 
  9. No man is an island. You need a community to get through this life.
  10. Don’t talk about things of which you’re ignorant.
  11. Don’t live in the past. Embrace it, honor it, learn from it. But, don’t live in it.
  12. Read. A lot. Good stuff, not trash. More than half should be fiction.
  13. Never be afraid to make a mistake.
  14. Never be afraid to apologize for a mistake.
  15. Learn the art of forgiveness. Holding a grudge is a waste of energy.
  16. Don’t avoid conflict. But, don’t seek it out, either. When it happens, stand up and deal with it.
  17. A gift for a significant other doesn’t have to be expensive. There is truth in the saying, “It’s the thought that counts.”
  18. If a gift for a significant other does have to be expensive, find a different significant other.
  19. Learn from your reverses.
  20. Always be honest. But, understand that some truths are best kept to yourself.
  21. Stand up for the vulnerable.
  22. Never, ever punch down
  23. Look for the beauty in the world.
  24. Be a man of your word. If you say you’ll do something, do it. Even when you don’t want to. Especially when you don’t want to.
  25. Always break up with a significant other in person. Anything else is cowardly.
  26. A real man lets a woman walk wherever she damn well pleases. If it happens to be on the side nearest the street, he’s okay with that.
  27. Be prepared for a bluff to be called.
  28. The Golden Rule is a pretty good one to live by.
  29. If you’re not sure your shirt is clean, it’s dirty. Change it.
  30. Remember that appearance is not an alternative for substance.
  31. When making a decision, choose a course of action and commit to it. No one likes a ditherer.
  32. Most people won’t find your hobbies anywhere near as interesting as you do, so don’t bore them. Instead, find that person who loves 19th century romantic poetry as much as you do and geek out to your heart’s content.
  33. Take care of yourself. And, by “take care of yourself”, I mean, learn to cook, clean, and do your own laundry.
  34. Be kind for no reason.
  35. Live the life you want to live, not the one your parents/grandparents/friends want for you.
  36. Never tip less than 20%, no matter how bad the service may be.
  37. Having one very close friend is infinitely better than having a hundred acquaintances.
  38. Whenever possible, opt for quality over price.
  39. Always be faithful to a significant other. Even if you think they’re not being faithful to you.
  40. Know how to change a tire. AAA isn’t always available.
  41. There are plenty of stupid questions. But, the most stupid is the one you don’t ask.
  42. You get a limited amount of time on this earth. Use it to your best advantage.
  43. When possible, do the unpleasant things when you think of them. If you put them off, they won’t get done.
  44. Be grateful.
  45. If you didn’t do the work, don’t take the credit.
  46. Do the work.
  47. Spend time with old people and kids. You can learn a lot from both.
  48. It’s never too late to change.
  49. A good plan executed now is always better than a perfect plan executed later. (paraphrased of George S. Patton)
  50. Know the person you want to be remembered as and work to be that person every day.