Dr. Chad Sato
Hawai‘i Herald Columnist

By the time you read this article, we would have just celebrated Tango no Sekku, Boys’ Day on Thursday, May 5. However, back in 1948, the Japanese government decided to convert this national holiday to Children’s Day or Kodomo no hi. To celebrate the child’s personality, innocence, and happiness and gratitude to their mother was deemed more essential than honoring the good and bad qualities of being a boy. For my Girls’ Day article back in March, I was able to showcase Jane Kurahara who shared some insights to inspire future generations. So, to balance out the energies I wanted to do the same for my Boys’ Day article, but I didn’t get an opportunity to interview a 95-year-old “boy” who felt he was not yet old enough to share his insights. Being humble is a noble trait to embody and I felt it appropriate to take this time to highlight the good and not-so-good of being a boy.

It’s rather bizarre being a boy and yet there was and is so much pressure on a boy to become a “man.” I remember being told multiple times to “be a good boy” and “don’t bring shame to the family” by my mom and grandma. Growing up as a teen, all the pretty girls liked the supposed “bad boys” and not the “nice guys.” Being told you are nice and a good friend, was like the kiss of death back in the day when I wanted to be more than just friends. I remember internally I wanted to respond, “I can be a bad guy too,” but the responsible “good boy” conditioning in me stayed quiet. I’m not sure if I am the only one who had this conflict, but I also remember my son, when he was four-years-old, being told by his preschool teacher to “use his words and not his fists” to deal with boys a year or two older, I felt a pain in my heart and gut. So, this article is dedicated to the boy energy and that being good all the time sprinkled with some bad can lead to becoming a man.

The first thing I want to do is to characterize the meaning of boy energy. The tradition in Hawai‘i to celebrate Boys’ Day is to hang koinobori, large carp streamers that appear to “swim” in the tradewinds on poles in front of homes. The carp in Japan symbolizes male energy, fortitude, dedication and longevity. Another symbol that is displayed during Boys’ Day is musha-ningyo (samurai dolls clad in body armor and armed with weapons and helmets). Boy energy is one of physicality and having to move. A boy’s brain develops fine motor skills slower than girls hence the desire to sit down for long periods of time and draw or write is usually lost among toddlers and adolescent boys.  Running around outside, climbing trees, jumping, and roughhouse play is more their jive. Boys also tend to have lots more robust energy and if you are a parent, you know full well that if your son doesn’t run or burn up some calories, he gets into all kinds of trouble and mischief. So, the title of waru bozu and being a “rascal” are reserved for those boys that just cannot sit still and creates all kinds of havoc.

By harnessing the power of boy energy, you can then channel this energy to be focused and driven while competing, achieving goals and overcoming obstacles to succeed. However, to gain these positive traits and attributes require life experiences, relationships and challenges that a boy must endure, which ultimately leads to his unique and authentic self. Life is all about growth but is dependent upon how a boy deals with adversity that determines if he grows up or not. If a boy can learn from his mistakes, get guidance from older positive male role models, and not shy away from challenges but confront them, he will be on the path to becoming a “man.”

According to Dr. Kurt Smith, D.O. and licensed counselor, there are several characteristics that a boy can master on his way to manhood. I picked three to illustrate:

  1. Take responsibility and choose their thoughts and actions — mistakes will happen in life and that’s how we all learn. A boy who doesn’t make excuses but takes full ownership and responsibility for what has occurred helps him to develop into a man. Reflecting and choosing what kind of man they want to be, which is rooted in their values and morals. Boys who set up guidelines for their life will ultimately become a man of substance.
  2. Certainty and decisiveness — boys who have clarity in what type of partner, career and life they want will help them to develop into men. Knowing who they are and aligned with their highest values can make decision making easier and effortless.
  3. Strive for integrity — their word is paramount and say what they mean and their ability to follow through with agreements and commitments.

Learning to be a man is a great thing to strive for, but I cannot leave out the power of being a “bad boy.” Certain qualities of being “bad” per se can also help shape a boy to become a man. So why is it that young women like the bad? One reason could be that women need a challenge and secretly desire to change a man or be the one that helped a “bad boy” turn good. The qualities of bad boys that can help make them a man is their ability to deal with conflicts head on and find opportunities in difficult situations to improve their livelihood. They are not afraid to speak up and confront others since they don’t care what others think about them. They do not shrink or feel shame but stand up for what they think is right. There are three top qualities of bad boys if embraced could create a better version of himself.

  1. To be unapologetically authentic — being genuine that appears effortless. Know who he is, speak and do what he wants. Staying grounded and centered regardless of what society deems normal shows his inner strength. To own this trait, it’s not about mimicking someone else or adding to yourself – but rather develop self-acceptance by removing all influences that aren’t aligned with your inner knowing. Don’t compare yourself to others and follow what feels right to you. Be a radical rebel to your conditioned self of doing things that everyone thinks you should. Choose YOU, and the more you connect to your intuition and gut instinct, you will make decisions that define YOU.
  2. Confidence almost to the point of arrogance — Self-assurance coupled with confidence equals swag. It’s expressed in body language, your tone, eyes, and an unshakable conviction in everything that you say and do. Full belief and trust in your values, beliefs, boundaries to the point that you prioritize it over others.  Don’t allow others to walk over you and this is accomplished with a true adherence to your values and standards. Also don’t ever feel sorry for yourself, but instead build confidence by practicing almost to the point of faking it until you embody it. Monitor your inner dialogue and see where you self-sabotage. You will likely fail a lot initially, but the more you choose to push through this fear, you’ll build your confidence muscle.
  3. Shamelessly Selfish — put your needs first before anyone else. Self-love starts with putting yourself first. The best analogy is when you fly on an airplane, the flight attendant always tells you in a state of an emergency, always put your oxygen mask on first before you help anyone else. Like anything in life if you get too extreme and become too self-centered, this too, repels people. So, the trick is to put yourself first and stay consistent knowing that if this is not your common habit, family and loved ones may not like you initially. Become an authority of your life and if you are not hurting anyone by doing what’s best for you, then you will filter out those individuals who don’t really care about you. If you are a nice guy, then build up some healthy selfishness and that way you will be valued instead of being taken for granted. Until you value yourself highly then others will want to do the same for you.  

Learn to accept both the perceived good with the bad. There’s always some unperceived benefit from obstacles as well as unperceived drawbacks from having everything occur so easily. I’ve learned that when you own and take responsibility for the traits that you envy or dislike about another, you have a greater chance of embodying that energy as well. The mindset that you need to establish is to be mindful of your thoughts and actions, along with staying consistent. Also be patient and kind with yourself; because just like Rome, it was not built in a day.

In closing, I have had the honor of corresponding with my 95-year-old pen pal through what we would call “snail mail” these days, and these are the insightful words he shared with me, “My joy! Living a happy-healthful life; one day at a time.” So much wisdom in a concise sentence – choose happiness, wellness, and stay present each day and don’t take your life for granted. Live each moment and treasure all the relationships that you have curated over the years. I am honored and humbled to have connected with such a special “boy” who through his aloha, helps others to be mindful and stay safe.

Dr. Chad Sato graduated from UCLA in 1995 with a bachelor’s degree in biology and earned the Doctor of Chiropractic degree with honors from Life Chiropractic College West in 1998. Sato founded his practice, Aloha Chiropractic (alohachiro.biz), in Mänoa valley, O’ahu, on Oct. 1, 1999. He is a sought-after educator, speaker, author and mind-body specialist who helps people reach new levels of empowerment when it comes to their health and wellness by staying present with their body signs, making appropriate life choices and utilizing stress instead of managing it.

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