The original meaning of the word “hero” wasn’t a fierce warrior who destroyed the bad guys and saved the world. It was “protector.” The heroic ideal was someone who worked hard to develop the strength to go beyond themselves and care for others. They were motivated by their big hearts, their compassion, and their calling to serve others. In modern day stories, it may be the larger than life action that thrills us, but it’s the heart of the hero that we connect with – so big and strong that they will do whatever it takes to save others. A hero has a purpose that is bigger than themselves and they are committed to developing the physical, mental and emotional strength to serve this higher purpose.
Modern research supports this idea that we are happier when we follow this path. Give people money and tell them they can buy something they really want for themselves – or for someone else – then measure their happiness after acting on their choice. For virtually everyone, we are happier with the decision to give. Generosity, then, is really one of the most wonderful gifts we give ourselves. A caution though: it works best when we give without expectation of return.
Whether it’s a return act of giving or a thank you, giving with expectations makes our joy dependent on the other person living up to our expectations. Unconditional giving leads to unconditional joy.
A big heart and service mindset is a practice we are all capable of. Every time we go beyond ourselves to serve with compassion; as a parent, friend, volunteer, and many other ways, we are on the hero’s path. Let’s commit to taking another heroic step today.
PS: It’s much harder to serve others if you aren’t serving yourself. A big part of developing heroic strength is caring for your physical, mental and emotional body. How can you create a small win for yourself today in the areas of sleep, activity, and emotional connection such that you can better use your gifts in the world?
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