I have graduated from the UC Berkeley’s ‘The Science of Happiness’ online course (yay! a year’s work!), yours truly is now a certified expert on happiness 🙂 however I continue revisiting some of the amazing research they are using throughout the course.
An interesting angle on happiness, as part of a wider compassion and kindness view, is heroism. Below Philip Zimbardo discusses his work on heroism – identifies the main questions of his research, explains how heroism is different from altruism or compassion, and considers what we might learn from some inspiring heroes of the past.
Then, in a second video, he summarizes some of the initial findings from his research and describes the organization, the Heroic Imagination Project, that he founded to translate this research into action.
Overall, Phil’s work suggests that everyday people, like you and me, have the capacity to perform heroic deeds. For me, little things, like random acts of kindness or standing up to a bully on the train or behaving kindly to strangers in unkind situations all feel like heroism. Heck, even standing up to myself and trying to be more self compassionate feels like heroism sometimes!
Other more inspiring people are doing amazing things like this for example. There are so many examples of everyday heroes! Whatever brave thing you can do, no matter how big or small, whoever or whatever you can stand up to (even yourself!) or protect, whatever fears you can overcome, however you can bring more kindness to the world – do it. Do it before Christmas. Be a hero this year. The world will be a better place and you will be a better, happier person.
Please share in the comments what heroic deeds you plan or have done already!