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Why Smart Men Do the Same Dumb Things

Why Smart Men Do the Same Dumb ThingsThe irrationally demanding boss. The temperamental, uncommunicative father. The co-worker who never admits mistakes. The husband who won’t ask for directions. Why do so many men self-sabotage their personal growth and relationships? It’s not just a “guy thing,” says psychologist Dr. Rosalie K. Tatsuguchi. “It’s a ‘Musashi thing.’” And the good news is that change is possible.

Generations of men, whether they know it or not, have patterned their lives after the legendary warrior Miyamoto Musashi, who practiced bushido, the way of the warrior. His teachings prioritized the suppression of feelings, constant wariness, isolation and the willingness to sacrifice one’s life in service of the clan lord. Followers of Musashi’s way don’t talk much. They don’t consider feelings and emotions relevant to decision making. They are perfectionists. They don’t explain themselves, ask questions or tolerate others’ questions. They are hard on themselves and those around them. Their children and subordinates often fear them. They lack closeness and understanding in their relationships. They are the type of friend who would die for another, but won’t ask about—or reveal—personal troubles.

This warrior mindset is the basis of Dr. Tatsuguchi’s new book, Why Smart Men Do the Same Dumb Things: A Warrior’s Manual for Change, a follow-up to her previous work, Why Smart People Do the Same Dumb Things: Causes and Cures from Buddhism and Science. This time around, Dr. Tatsuguchi explains the warrior code paradigm and teaches how to differentiate between the appropriate times to be a stern samurai or be open to giving and accepting intimacy. It’s a guide to beginning the process of behavioral change and opening the door to better relationships with peers, friends and family. Dr. Tatsuguchi’s unique approach is rooted in the connection between modern scientific methodology and Buddhist principles of free inquiry and respect for the human spirit. This model of thinking will help readers realize and admit mistakes, correct them and live a more fulfilled, happier life.

Meet Dr. Tatsuguchi at these three free events: book signing at the Mo‘ili‘ili Hongwanji Bazaar, seminar at the Buddhist Study Center and lecture at Native Books / Na Mea Na Mea Hawai‘i. See event calendar for dates and details.

In the following excerpt, Dr. Tatsuguchi explains why she wrote the book:

My father loved all of his six children, of whom I was his fifth. None of us ever doubted his love though he never expressed it. He worked hard, and his life revolved around the church, the community and us. He was born in Hiroshima and immigrated to Hawai‘i with my mother as the first husband-and-wife team of a Jodo Shinshu temple in the late 1920s. He was full of contradictions—good-hearted, yet self-centered and inflexible about his convictions; easily angered, but caring. He was also strong-minded, smart, honest, athletic, handsome and well liked. Although he was raised as a Buddhist minister, he grew up in a Japan that had never lost a war, and like most men of his era he had a warrior upbringing. Unlike his cohorts, he expected all of his children, including his four daughters, to get college educations. On the other hand, none of us could talk to him on an intimate, emotional level—he was truly the stoic, “silent samurai” type. We couldn’t freely tell him about anything we were thinking, feeling or doing. At home, nothing could empty a room faster than his entrance into it. We were all afraid of him. He died when I was thirty-eight years old and during that entire time, I felt close to him on just two occasions.

Goki Itsuki Kiyomi Tatsuguchi

Rev. Goki Itsuki Kiyomi Tatsuguchi (July 11, 1898 to August 1, 1978), circa 1916–1920, Ryukoku University
national championship sumo team captain

 

The regret over what I missed with my father led me to write this book for him and the men who are just like him—responsible, deeply caring, strong-willed, smart, honest, athletic, handsome men, who were taught to ignore their emotions and don’t know how to deal with feelings. I have met so many in my practice. Quite a few are respected or well liked, but they are often also self-centered, stern, gruff, angry, difficult to approach, lonely, bewildered and scary to their children and employees. Because of their lack of social skills, they and the people they love miss out on close and rich relationships.

Men like my father knowingly or unknowingly follow the way of the early samurai who suppressed their feelings, practiced constant wariness, isolated themselves and sacrificed their lives because they were at war; it literally was “do or die.” It’s important to be able to discriminate when you’re at war and when you’re not; who’s your enemy and who’s your friend. It’s important to treat each differently. How many situations and people are you treating as though you are at war? How many people are you inappropriately scaring and how many relationships are you shutting down? Is it time for you to learn about your feelings and how they affect your thoughts and behavior? Would you like to be closer to your wife, children and friends? Are you able to change your mindset and drop your warrior ways when it’s appropriate?

This book is not about trashing the warrior code paradigm, but about learning to differentiate between when you need to be a stern warrior and when you should give and accept intimacy; when you should be at war or at peace; when you should be silent and uncommunicative or share what’s on your mind. This book can teach you when and how to distinguish between wartime and peacetime modes, dangerous and friendly folks. It can help you learn how to recognize when you are truly in danger, when you are safe and how to let your guard down. To make the most of it, you will need to be able to admit mistakes, hear others out, accept feedback and make corrections.