Happiness will be elusive as long as a man or woman builds their self-image or worth based on what they do and how much money they make. I read an article this weekend in The New York Times Magazine bemoaning the fact that many men are losing their self-worth because their “macho” jobs are going away and their wives are making more money than they are. Mind you, it’s not that they can’t find work; they just don’t want to do service jobs that they consider “women’s work,” such as teaching. Here’s a quote from the article which is based upon a soon-to-be-released book, “The End of Men: And the Rise of Women”:

“A man needs a strong macho job. He’s not going to be a schoolteacher or a legal secretary or some beauty-shop (slam on male barbers) queen. He’s got to be a man.”

Is this really what matters to us? Heaven help us if being a man is truly defined by a job title. How fragile. How sad.

Now here’s the big picture: evolution is striking once again. It’s interesting that we can read about how past civilizations had to evolve and go through growth pains to get to their next level. In present time the current civilizations are being called to raise their consciousness and individuals are being called to use more of our true potential – to empower ourselves and to stop gauging our worth, our value as human beings based upon one gender dominating the other or one race needing to devalue another to feel good about themselves. The subtitle to the NY Times article was “Welcome to the New Middle-class Matriarchy.”

Seriously? Really? So money still defines who is in “power”? Matriarchy? Why does there need to be any kind of “archy”? I’m not for either patriarchy or matriarchy. My gender should not be what determines my level of contribution to the world. It should not determine my level of choice.

If a person was born with a life purpose that is not to be a schoolteacher, nurse, or stay-at-home mom, why would the life path of a woman or man need to be determined by their physical qualities? There are girls who are born gifted to be presidents of countries, and there are boys born gifted to contribute to or change the educational system. It really is time for us to wake up. Looking at the faces of the men and women in this NY Times article felt a bit sad to me. They really looked unhappy. It’s sad because it reveals that our current paradigm is still so strongly based in the illusion of one gender needing to dominate the other. How much better – and happier – would we be as individuals and as a society if we would stop putting men and women into itty-bitty gender-role boxes and let people be their authentic selves?

When will we stop passing it down to the next generation that their worth is based solely on their school grades, their job title, or the opinion of other people – their gender? (Haven’t you noticed that people’s opinions change like the weather?) This is the formula for a life of misery and unhappiness, judging from the current statistics. And it is not creating health and happiness in our world. When one can start with the belief that, “I am valuable because I exist,” and then take that essence, spirit, and energy into their work, they can “in joy” the work they choose instead of needing to be defined by what they do.

They can grow their skills and talents and evolve their weaknesses to strengthen their mind. There’s nothing “wrong” with you at your core; we all just need to grow to self-actualize our higher-thinking potential self. The world has changed. If education is so important, then why wouldn’t men become teachers? Aren’t they smart enough? Wise enough? Strong enough? It’s not for the faint of heart, that’s for sure.

I had some great male teachers in my life growing up. You see, the issue is that too many men feel they are not “men” unless they are controlling others, via money or intimidation (what some people call “power”). One of the women in the article dropped her dream of going to college to jump at the ultimatum of her college-educated boyfriend back in 1981. She dropped out of school and essentially lost her own sense of self. Women can tend to define themselves too much by what others think and their relationships. With a divorce rate of over 50%, that’s a precarious identity to take on. It’s scary, in fact.

Here’s my point: you are not what you do or have. “You” are not your relationships. We all need to accept our self, get comfortable with our self, and then move out into the world from this starting point. “Who do you think you are?” is a very important question to contemplate. This is just one of the many lessons that Life is calling us to learn at this point in history. None of these radical changes we are seeing is a coincidence – pay attention.

I was amazed to discover the number-one demographic that commits suicide: white males over 70 years of age – after retirement. I strongly suspect a loss of identity is a big part of this issue. We are more than our bank account, physical attributes, and genders. When we make time to find deeper purpose, meaning, and passion we will be better equipped to adapt to the vicissitudes of life and find joy even in changing circumstances. This will only happen when we reflect within our self.

Brain research makes it clear that the logical left-brain (where most people live their lives) is primarily external-world (physical) focus and the contextual right-brain is internal (invisible) world focused. The external is only a part of life. We have forgotten who we are by totally neglecting aspects of our inner world – the world of restoration, peace, and joy; the world of context and meaning – of purpose. We need both.

Brain science is beginning to align with ancient wisdom. If we define our self by externals, we’ll have no reference point to ground our self as the outer world is constantly changing. Spirit is eternal and any sense of real identity stability derives from the changeless, formless awareness of the greater part of our self. Men and women need both. This externally focused gender-role-playing stuff to find our “place” is getting tired already. It’s time to grow up and expand the vision for our life.

Author's Bio: 

Valencia Ray, M.D. teaches business owners and corporate leaders how their amazing brain can actually hijack personal power -- not in the abstract, but in the context of integrating business and personal life. Dr. Ray, a board-certified eye surgeon and medical business owner for over 20 years before selling her practice, shares her own life changing process. By sharing her story, she helps others to expand their vision and learn that by living with purpose and confidence, it is possible to have a more integrated, healthier lifestyle – with less struggle, more inner peace and more abundance.

For more information and to contact her regarding dynamic, inspirational keynotes, trainings in collaborative leadership and team building, entrepreneurship and coaching programs, visit her website at http://www.ValenciaRay.com.