What does it mean to “be a man”?

What does it mean to “be a man”?

by Dr Tim Sharp (aka Dr Happy)

What does it mean, to you, to “be a man”?

Even if you’re not a man yourself, this should be of interest to you because there’s a very good chance that you’re in a relationship with a man! He might be your lover or friend, father or son, colleague or … in some way someone important in your life!

So the answer to this question is, in my humble opinion, important and relevant to all of us. And in response to this question, I offer the following…

For a variety of reasons, over the last few weeks and months, I’ve been thinking quite a bit about what it means to be a “man”.

I’m actively involved in a range of mental health services and organisations and causes, and the sad reality is that men tend to be poorer at reaching out and getting the help they need.

Why is this? Why would so many men choose to suffer more than they need to and choose to suffer in silence?

Well, I think there are a number of answers to this complex question; but at the core of all of them is the definition of “manhood” and/or “masculinity”.

Typically, manhood is associated with words and constructs such as courage and strength, determination and forcefulness, self-reliance and sturdiness.

Unfortunately, these words are too often understood by too many as meaning…resolutely standing and/or coping on one’s own, not needing or asking for assistance, resisting showing any signs of weakness of vulnerability.

And herein lies the problem!

These are all key contributors to distress and suffering. Whereas real resilience and effective coping often involves the opposites of such concepts such as unashamedly expressing emotions, reaching out and accepting help, forming strong and open connections and realising imperfection is a universal feature of humanity (for men and for women).

In my humble opinion, therefore, what’s needed is a new definition of “manhood”; or more realistically, a realisation that there are many definitions of manhood…different versions for different men in different contexts.

Dr Tim Lomas, a UK academic, has researched and written a lot about “masculinities”, the idea that more than one type of masculinity exists. And just thinking about this notion would, in my humble opinion, have a massive, positive impact on many men (and, therefore, on many wives, girlfriends, mothers, children and more).

Because what it means is that each of us can choose to define our own version of “manhood”; one that suits our personalities and builds on our strengths and is appropriate for our lives within our cultures and communities.

My manhood may well be different to yours, and my manhood may well be different to my son’s … and as long as our definitions include some element of respect and tolerance, and do not involve harm others, surely that can be a good thing.

…So that’s today’s mailing. Take some time to reflect upon the message and how it might apply to you. Check out, also, the links below for some additional readings and resources.

I hope it helps you enjoy some more happiness. Until next time…

Keep well & keep smiling
Tim Sharp (aka Dr Happy)

PS: you can read ALL of my previous posts HERE


I’m very excited to announce that my new podcast series on this very topic, titled “Be a Man” and co-hosted with Gus Worland (produced by Liv Proud and PodcastOne Australia) is now out; available and free on all of your favourite podcast platforms.

We covered some fascinating themes within and around what it means to be a man, including sex and relationships, mental health, career and finances and more. We interviewed some amazingly fascinating guests including the author Tim Winton, businessman and The Mentor Mark Bouris, journalist and #metoo advocate Tracey Spicer and sexologist Dr Nikki Goldstein (just to name a few).

So head over to PodcastOne (or your favourite Podcast platform such as iTunes HERE) and check out my latest exciting project. I’d love to know what you think (in fact, if you like it we’d love you to leave a review/rating on iTunes)!

And one more thing; here’s a short video with me discussing what I think it means to “be a man” … HERE