May 9, 2010

What is a HERO and .... Are HEROES happy?

Webster defines a hero as,

1 a : a mythological or legendary figure often of divine descent endowed with great strength or ability b : an illustrious warrior c : a man admired for his achievements and noble qualities d : one that shows great courage.

When I speak of being the HERO of YOUR life, am I using the term in the same sense as above?

Essentially, yes.... let me take the definition one part at a time;

"Mythological or legendary figure" might imply that a hero has been created as in literature or folklore or that exploits have grown over time as the legend grows. The literal precision of the description of such a character or his (use of male pronoun from here on or in any of my writings implies both genders, but leaving in male to make writing/reading less tedious) is besides the point that the reason myths and legends endure of heroes, is because they exemplify the best that man can and should be, and that we all, deep down, aspire to be. Whether we have the courage to do so openly and purposely is another matter.

"Often of divine descent". My spiritual convictions are of a very secular nature, however, I do believe that for man to even perceive of a supreme being, is very revealing of his own true nature in striving to reach for the highest possible value. My only distinction would be that man is reaching for this highest possible value WITHIN himself, rather than OUTSIDE of himself.

"Endowed with great strength or ability". Whether we are referring actual physical strength, strength of character; ability as in developed skill or ability to act with consistency to one's principles, these are obvious traits of HEROES. My book will deal with the best methods to develop each of these.

"An illusttrious warrior". The nature of life, survival and happiness is such that all values are accomplished by overcoming adversity or challenge. As such, the term "warrior" is certainly apt.

"A man admired for his achivements and his noble qualities". While this is true, one point to make is that the admiration of others is never a hero's main or even important motivation, except if in a leadership role, because this will be an important aspect of having others wish to follow a vision that he considers worthy for all concerned. In fact, in many cases, the very essence of heroism is to act with integrity despite being ridiculed, and attacked for doing so.

"One that shows great courage". Courage is, as cited above, an essential element of being a hero, because, tragically, the proper philosophy of reason, purpose and self-esteem is rarely understood and even more rarely practiced. This leaves the hero to "swim upstream" in most cases.

To the second query in this post's title, Are HEROES happy? .... When I speak of reason, purpose and self-esteem, I do so in the following context:

Reason: The hero recognizes that the full use of his reasoning mind, which is his tool of survival and happiness means that he accepts reason as his only absolute.

Purpose: He also accepts that his highest purpose is his own happiness. Because his means to this end is reason, he fully realizes that he can never achieve true happiness through any type of fraud or exploitation of others.

Self-Esteem: His purpose in achieving his own happiness can only be possible with a self-esteem that assures him that he truly deserves this happiness.

In fact, heroes choose, very early on, to love life and they choose happiness as their natural state. Even when faced with hardships or challenges, any pain they feel does not disturb this basic view of life. Howard Roark, the main character in Ayn Rand's novel, The Fountainhead, when asked how he is able to deal with personal losses he is continuously subjected to in the story, responds, "it only hurts to a certain level" (paraphrased from memory). When asked by Ellsworth Toohey, who has been the cause of many of his setbacks, to honestly tell him what he thinks of him, he responds, "but I don't think of you".

A hero does not see pain as an essential element of life, but rather a temporary annoyance in an otherwise joyous existence, that joy being the result of his consistent application of logical principles.

So, summarizing: HEROES ARE happy by definition.... the idea of a self-sacrificial hero, living some sort of miserable existence as though his misery made him more virtuous is a contradiction in terms.

Being the HERO of YOUR life is the means AND the end to living on earth!

Stay tuned for next entry which will deal with acknowledging the full challenge of obstacles to doing so, and why underestimating these by thinking that one can overcome them through sheer willpower rather than through the proper application of reason in knowing how to properly deal with each one is one of the main reasons why people fail in their quests.

I would also like to acknoweldge my debt to the philosophy of Ayn Rand in the ideas expressed above and highly recommend all of her writings.