the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

The Recipe for a Happy and Successful Man

Editor’s Note: I know this post is rather odd.   Look at it as an experiment.

Every man instinctively knows the recipe for a successful and happy life. The recipe is as simple as the easiest homemade mac-n-cheese or a basic chicken soup.

The recipe for a man’s happiness contains three ingredients.  I call them Head, Heart, and Groin (or you can that last ingredient Dick, Cock, Johnson, or “the Big Fella,” whatever term you prefer).

If a man can satisfy the needs of each of these essential ingredients of his Life – Head, Heart, Groin – blending them artfully so they all work together reasonably well, he will be a happy man.

Let’s imagine your life as a soup. We are talking metaphor here, not a real soup, although I wouldn’t be surprised at all if there was an actual “Head, Heart, and Groin” oxtail soup  served at some food cart in the Chinese province of Guangdong.

The happy man is our final completed soup, ready to serve.

Sadly, few men are anywhere near Master Chefs when it comes to their own soups. 99% of men are completely amateur cooks.  They brazenly overpower their soups with one ingredient, act cocky and don’t follow the recipe at all, and get so distracted that they burn the pot, or in extreme cases, even burn down the entire kitchen.

Head, Heart, and Groin.  What does that mean?

We all want to —

1) satisfy our intellectual curiosity (Head)

2) love and be loved (Heart)

3) connect physically with another (a polite way of saying “get laid”) (Groin)

These ingredients are easy to find.   If these items were sold in a typical suburban supermarket, we would find them right on aisle 1, next to the other common kitchen staples, such as Heinz Ketchup, Diet Snapple, and Ring Dings.

If the ingredients are so easy to find, and the soup so easy to make, why do we fail to be happy?  If the answer is as simple as a recipe scribbled on the back of an index card, why are there a million self-help books giving us advice?

Most men have one basic problem.   They were never taught to use a measuring cup, so the soup never turns out right.

In my own case, my soup of Life always turns out over-salted, too spicy, or bland.

It’s not that I’m lazy or stupid. I’m working on perfecting my soup all the time, trying new methods and techniques, even adjusting the amounts depending on the life situation.  I just can’t seem to get my soup to taste right.

When I am alone in the house, I over-think every move and action.  My soup is mostly Brain.   It is like I have created a matzoh ball soup with a giant matzoh ball plopped right in the middle of the bowl, allowing no room for the broth.  The matzoh ball absorbs the liquid, and the dish can hardly be called a soup anymore.

This does not create happiness.  Too much Brain makes a bad soup.

One of the reasons I am writing this post right now is because I’m procrastinating from “real” work.  I cannot think today. My mind won’t rest.  I feel like one big brain, with my body irrelevant, and my body doesn’t like it at all.  I just want to take a nap.

When I leave my house, I tend to experiment with my recipe, hoping to adjust the balance of the three ingredients, striving for that perfect soup, and a happy Life.  I do this as a necessity, knowing that Brain soup will never make you friends.   But as an only child, I have always felt somewhat uncomfortable with others.  I think I also have some co-dependency issues, as you can from five years worth of posts about my relationship with Sophia.  When I connect with others, both in real life and online, my soup becomes heavy on the emotion and schmaltz — Heart.

At first, a Heart-heavy soup seems like a perfect recipe for relationships, but too much heart is like too much salt or chicken fat, or in the case of the matzoh ball soup, a matzoh ball that wasn’t molded correctly, so sits in the soup all soggy, crumbling like the New York Jets in this year’s championship game at the mere touch of the spoon.

A Heart-heavy soup is more edible than the Brain-heavy soup, but most people would pass on it the second time.  It gives you heart-burn.   Men who approach life with too much Heart frequently grow irrational, even crazy.  They are rarely happy.  When you see me on Twitter getting petty with you, you know what type of soup I am preparing in my kitchen.

The third ingredient for a man’s happiness is very important, although we sometimes keep this hidden from view, like MSG in a Chinese restaurant.   Without getting into too many of the details, there are specific personal reasons why I’ve been overcompensating my soup with Groin.    Have you noticed how many of my blog posts are all Groin, with little Head or Hearth?  I don’t intend this to be the case.  I just sometimes let the soup kettle boil and boil with too much Groin inside the pot until it is practically jumping off the stove

Some men enjoy being all-Groin.  In matzoh ball soup terms, their soup contains two round matzoh balls, and the matzoh balls can be quite tasty, but the soup is absolutely bland, as if the chef forgot to add anything else to the broth.

I frequently make this type of Groin-oriented soup online, especially in my blog posts, but rarely in real life.  I would be happier if I added more Groin to my real-life soup, and more Brain to my virtual version.

So, there you have it.  The three simple ingredients, the recipe to a man’s happiness.

Of course, I struggle, just like the rest of you, in creating the perfect soup.  My soup is always too much of this, or too little of that.

Being a Master Chef in Life is a difficult task.


  1. Jane

    I liked this post. Funny and cute, and with just enough truth to make it palatable.

  2. Andrea

    I love this, and I intend to use it as a gentle reminder for a friend of mine who, in real life, is all groin and no heart or head. And he’s very lonely as a result. Balance is key to cooking well, huh?

  3. The Honourable Husband

    You know, I think that you don’t give enough credit to heart.

    It sounds like you think that heart is rich, schmaltzy, and too much to eat as a constant diet. Yet thee are those who say that a life lived 100% in the heart, is really the only way to live.

    Your heart has to be the main ingredient in your life. The others add spice and zest, but unless heart is your staple, you can’t digest the other two.

    It took me a long time to learn this.

  4. Danny

    I agree with Honourable Husband that “heart” seems to be getting a bad rap in this interesting recipe. I think you’re confusing “heart” with “dysfunctional attachments” or “sentimentality.”

    Oy, I’ll never look at a bowl of matzoh ball soup the same way…

    • The Honourable Husband

      True, Danny.

      Perhaps sentimentality gets confused with genuine, deep emotion. That’s like comparing a snack with a meal.

      The problem with our over-mediated culture, is that we so gorge on snacks that we don’t have the appetite for a good, square meal. And we end up emotionally undernourished.

      And cheap sentiment—that junk food of the heart—perhaps ends up giving all emotion a bad name.

      Cynics scorn all emotions, especially romantic love, when what they really want to scorn is insincerity or shallowness in the practice thereof.

      We end up emotional anorexics. “Does this hug make me look hokey?”


      P.S. Metaphors are great, aren’t they?

  5. erika

    i love your honesty in this post. i bet your soup is better than you think.

  6. V-Grrrl @ Compost Studios

    If I say “Less head,” you’ll know what I mean, right?

    • Neil

      No, V, please explain.

  7. Genevieve

    Neil, do you know that when I studied acting at school, we had 4 years of movement that, in essence, proclaimed that to create an entire character, you only had to figure out how they carried their head, chest (heart) and pelvis (groin). What did they lead with? And that no one, I repeat, no one, is perfectly balanced. You always lead with something. The head is the intellectual center of the body. The chest is the emotional part. And the pelvis, the third center, was power.

    • Neil

      Genevieve — I didn’t know that? What technique is that? Is that the Alexander Technique?

      • Genevieve

        You know, it was a combination of techniques. I definitely studied Alexander, but I was so bad at it. It made me so tense. I think my teacher, who studied mime in Paris, combined a whole lot of techniques together. But the book that she relied on the most was called Bodymind. It’s pretty cool. Here’s the link if you ever care to check it out.

  8. Amanda

    Excellent post. I love the matzoh ball metaphor.

  9. All Adither

    Easy to find? Really?

  10. The Pliers

    Great experiment.

    Although, I would assert that there is an important ingredient missing, without which Head, Heart, and Groin would have no context in which to float about–the Juice. Sometimes I call it the Ether, sometimes the Oversoul, sometimes the Great Hyperconscious, other times the Metaphysical. Some people must call it Spirit or Religious Tradition. Without the Juice you might get a good stew, but never a satisfying soup.

  11. Jack

    I have decided that more head is always better. Been stuck in a world of quotes lately and have one that isn’t precisely what you are talking about, but it still resonates for me even as I try to become the master chef.

    “I have been astonished that men could die martyrs for their religion –
    I have shudder’d at it.
    I shudder no more.
    I could be martyr’d for my religion
    Love is my religion
    And I could die for that.
    I could die for you.”
    ~ by John Keats ~

  12. bookfraud

    In “Annie Hall,” Woody Allen asks an attractive couple walking down a Manhattan street why they look happy and content.

    “I’m very shallow and empty,” she says, “and I have no ideas and nothing interesting to say.”

    “And I’m exactly the same way,” her boyfriend says.


  13. dan llanto

    gee, no wonder those priests have kids.hehehe.

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