5 Ways You Can Be Heroic Every Day

Staying positive, taking risks, and completing the journey.

Posted Dec 10, 2014

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Life, by its very nature, is challenging. Unfortunately, in our shame-based culture, we often receive the message that we should simply be able to get over all challenges and get on with life. If we don’t do this, there must be something wrong with us, we're told—and we inevitably feel bad about ourselves.

Pain, suffering, and tragedy are all aspects of life. This shouldn’t be denied. On history’s grand scale, humans engage in war and cope with natural disasters. On the personal level, a drunk driver crashes into our car or we lose a loved one to cancer. On a less dramatic level, whether it is in our careers or our relationships, we realize our lives have not met all of our hopes and dreams.

Life includes random events we can’t anticipate. The unknown is always present. There are no guarantees.

Given this reality, living is a journey of heroism. I don't mean emulating the perfect hero or heroine in a blockbuster movie or the protagonist in a video game. Just facing the challenges that life gives you is heroic.

Jean Paul Sartre stated, "life begins on the other side of despair." I believe he was recognizing the inherent challenges and difficulties of being human. Moving through these inherent challenges and difficulties is part of life’s heroic journey. To move through them, we need to value what taking this journey requires.

Being heroic means...

  • Not tearing yourself down. It's appreciating that life isn’t always smooth and easy, and acknowledging yourself for showing up. Realize that you are here, doing what you can, the best that you can, at this moment.

  • Embracing your vulnerability. By exploring your vulnerability, you can be open to the solutions that arise from it. This is the antidote to shaming yourself when you are vulnerable and feel you should not be.

  • Taking some risks in your life, with the understanding that you don’t know for certain what will be set in motion. You can feel good that you took the risk, even if it may not turn out exactly the way you imagined.

  • Forgiving yourself for missteps that you make, and learning from them so you don’t have to repeat them. And, if you do repeat them, forgiving yourself again and continuing to learn.

  • Cultivating an attitude of compassion towards yourself. By cultivating this attitude, you no longer suffocate yourself through shame. A positive moment in your life or a clear direction for your next step can then emerge.

By being present with the challenges of life and remembering that heroism exists in daily living, you can move into the depth of who you are. From that depth, you can engage with your life’s challenges in a full and vital way.