“The beauty of the soul shines out when a man bears with composure one heavy mischance after another, not because he does not feel them, but because he is a man of high and heroic temper.” -Aristotle
We are fascinated with superheroes. These daring characters give us something to aspire to.
Even if not human themselves, superheroes represent the essence of being human. Like you and me, they may be flawed, yet theirs are stories of emerging from struggle, conflict, and trauma with amazing gifts.
A superhero offers hope and comfort as we mere mortals make sense of a complex world, and they inspire by illustrating the potential in all of us to be someone great. You see, heroes also exist outside of comic books and the silver screen. Of course, famous leaders, reformers, and philanthropists can be heroes, but countless other ordinary people make an extraordinary impact on someone’s world.
For all of our admiration, we might actually have one advantage over superheroes. Unlike those masked wonders saving the day, we don’t need a secret identity to be heroic (though many of us might underestimate ourselves or keep our talents hidden).
Everyone, even you, has a superhero inside. Here are seven ways to unmask yours.
Find and work at your passion.
Just as each superhero has a mission, we have special talents and interests that we feel passionate about. If you already know where your passion lies, work at it wholeheartedly. The end goal isn’t as important as the time spent doing something with passion.
Whether you want to dedicate more time to a hobby or make a radical career change, make a realistic plan to get yourself there (then act on it). If you are tempted to avoid action out of fear, uncertainty, or self-doubt, acknowledge this and use it as a reminder of how much you care (then keep moving).
If you haven’t found your passion, commit to exploring this. Think about what you would do for free, where you fit in the most, and what you would do no matter what anyone else thought.
You might also list the things you have always dreamed of doing or remember what you wanted to be as a child. Once you have a few ideas, try one. Treat it like an experiment and approach this with an attitude of curiosity.
Stand for something.
Any superhero knows that you need to believe in something and then stand up for those beliefs. Get to know what you believe and why, then stand behind it fully.
What do you value most? Human rights? The environment? Justice? Peace? Support a cause and take action. Speak up for what you believe, and let your actions match your words. Whatever steps you take, let them be taken with honor and respect.
Superheroes make a name for themselves by doing good. Good deeds, no matter how small, go a long way toward helping others (and ourselves).
The first step is believing that you can make a difference. Next, do something good with your words and actions. Share a kind word, lend a helping hand, or donate time and resources to a cause you support.
Write your story.
Every superhero has an origin story. What is yours?
Ask yourself how you came to value what you do. Remind yourself of times that you’ve used pain as fuel for growth. Your story may be one of resilience, bravery, or inspiration.
Dreams, challenges, strengths, and aspirations are all part of your story, and this is a story worth sharing. Use the way you express yourself best to give your story a voice.
Don’t let fear become your nemesis.
For every superhero, there is also a supervillain, and for us, fear can be a pretty formidable opponent. Believe in your potential for greatness, and act with courage. This means moving forward even when you feel afraid.
Acknowledge fear’s presence and even listen to what it has to say, but don’t mistake it for the whole story. Understand where your fear may stem from, and move forward anyway.
Don’t stand in your own way by caving in to doubts, insecurities, and the message from others that you can’t. Take healthy risks to expand your comfort zone, and hang in there through discomfort.
Spend quality time alone.
To hone your super potential, give yourself quality time alone each day. Establish a personal space that gives you a little solitude. This time can be used for reflection, learning, and practicing your talents.
Begin a contemplative practice, such as journaling, meditation, or prayer. Other activities like dance, yoga, art, music, writing, and martial arts are also great avenues of self-exploration and self-expression.
Above all else, conduct yourself with integrity.
Heroes can be distinguished from villains by their integrity and honor. They are committed to doing what is right.
Do what you think is right, even if it isn’t always what is easiest. Treat others with kindness and compassion. Rise above challenges, oppression, and discouragement, and do so with honesty, dignity, and respect.
Leslie shows working moms how to bust those superwoman myths and bring back the balance and joy with her signature blend of real-life positive psychology tips and guilt-free meditations at A Year of Happy. To get you started, she’s whipped up a delectable 2-minute revitalizing meditation for you to enjoy on the house at http://www.ayearofhappy.com/revitalize.