Robert Greene’s bestselling book, The 48 Rules of Power is unlikely to appear on the shelves of the social justice warrior class, the left-leaning, touchy-feely, victim-narrative types. Its often brutal distillation of historical wisdom is not for the faint of heart. Rule number ten advises us to fill our lives with happy and fortunate individuals. We should ignore the drowning man lest he pull us down with him. Surely this is the very pinnacle of selfishness. But is it the best way to live? Can we abide by this law of power and retain our humanity?
We have all met life’s losers. They arrive down on their luck, wearing their self-pity like a uniform. The odds are always stacked against them, and they are forever finding obstacles to trip over, external forces to blame for their failures, reasons to be miserable, grudges to bear, and historical injustices to bemoan. They are weighed down with decades of baggage, be it childhood bullying, family ‘issues’, unfortunate encounters, broken relationships, messy divorces, the list goes unfortunately on. What are we to do with these wet blankets, these glass-half-fullers? Do we take them under our wing? Render assistance? Involve ourselves in their dramas? Lend them money? Throw them a life raft? Or keep our distance, watch their unravelling life from the safety of the side-lines?
Part of the AMG manifesto centres on men helping other men with the pressures we face during these interesting times. A Man’s Guide stands for the regenerative power of sharing, and believes that true strength and confidence includes the ability to demonstrate our vulnerability. We believe in the joy of having each other’s back. True friendship is the number you can call in the middle of the night when urgent help is required.
One worthwhile appendage to this rule might involve differentiating between an individual facing a temporary downswing, and someone whose whole life is an endless downward trajectory. Life has its peaks and troughs for us all. Today’s crest of a wave is tomorrow’s wipeout. Ventures and marriages fail. None of us are immune to bad luck, bad timing, betrayal, or changing market conditions. We should be there when one of our friends is facing adversity, even if it’s just to listen and offer encouragement. We should definitely stand shoulder to shoulder with our peers, follow them into the dark waters if required. Abandonment in such circumstances is surely a crime.
What then of the perpetually unlucky and unhappy? Perhaps we have room only for one in our life, one mate who only reaches out for help and never seems to offer anything in return. Perhaps we only have the fortitude to deal with one such friend, and taking on more would have a negative effect on our own wellbeing. Two or three might drag us down, while one is manageable.
If you have one in your life then you are doing good work. You might have unknowingly saved that man’s life just by taking the time to drop him a line, get him out of the house and into the fresh air and sunshine. There might have been a moment when all hope seemed lost, and you happened to call with some good news, something that lifted his spirits. Six Australian men kill themselves every day. This is a largely silent epidemic.
So, by all means, guard yourself against the law of infection. Select your friends and acquaintances with care. Protect your mindset lest you be exhausted by the dark forces that assail perpetually unhappy individuals. Also, be aware of the law of contagion. We become our associates over time. If you have corpulent friends you are almost certain to gain weight. But contagion includes positivity, happiness, contentment, fulfillment, and that winning feeling when nothing can hold you back.
So spread the love, selectively.