When I started this blog it was to develop a way to live like the heroes, and then chronicle what happens when I go out and actually live that way.
The last year has been very instructional. With the help of my readers, my teachers and my own misadventures I have created the blueprint of a heroic lifestyle. But I’m not sure I’ve put it all together in one place before.
So, after all the tweaks, what does the Heroic Life look like?
To Be a Hero
I use a simple but very strict definition of heroism built on a great discussion with readers:
A hero is someone who takes extraordinary personal risk to help others, with no personal stake.
To be willing and able to fulfill this role is, obviously, important to the Heroic Life. However, it’s also important to remember that you can’t just sign up to be a hero. You could spend your whole life getting ready, and never have the opportunity to be heroic.
In other words, the goal of the Heroic Life is not to become a hero, because no one can control that. Instead, the goal is to live a lifestyle that makes you as ready for heroism as you can be. It’s about the way you live, not the end result. This lifestyle is itself a source of joy, whether you end up saving lives or not.
So how do you live a life that lends itself to the heroic?
The Four Core Beliefs
The heroic lifestyle starts on a foundation of four principles. They are:
- Everyone has a purpose in life. There is something you’re good at, that you love doing—something that gives your life meaning. Know what that thing is, and pursue it.
- To find your purpose, travel. Travel changes the mind and it also introduces you to exponentially more possibilities than staying put.
- Ideals, not rules. In the realm of morality, ideals are far more useful than rules. Rules are a poor substitute for a moral compass, and they don’t require critical thinking. So choose your values and stick by them.
- You can do amazing things. When you master an art you will be capable of things that seem supernatural. You can become so good at something, and so full of knowledge, that it’s uncanny.
Do these four principles resonate with you? It’s easy to read through them and nod your head. But liking the idea is not the same as living it. The most important element of the heroic life is taking action.
So how do you take this foundation and put it into action?
A Relentless Drive
I believe that the heroic mindset is, at its heart, a bottomless determination to develop and improve yourself to the highest degree possible. This presents itself in several ways:
- A desire to learn as many new skills as possible
- A desire to hone, refine and master the skills you already possess
- A willingness to reflect on your personality, actions, and thoughts
- A willingness to endure discomfort, uncertainty, and pain to pursue these things
Thus, the heroic mindset manifests as an eager willingness to seek out challenge. A person with this mindset does not shy away from things that are difficult or risky, at least not for that reason. They may try to minimize risk, but in the pursuit of new challenges (learning new skills, spiritual development, etc.) they will not let risk stop them.
This mindset can be cultivated. By willingly taking on personal challenges on a small scale you start to develop the reactive decision-making skills that you need to weather much bigger challenges.
Aside from the mindset, there are practical considerations. To travel you will need to either make money anywhere or travel for free. I’ll spare you my usual battery of links that show how parents, large families, and older folks can do this just as well as young single people. The point is, if you find yourself saying you can’t possibly do this…. you might be wrong. Finding a way to make it possible is, itself, one of the challenges the heroic mind gladly takes on.
But what if you just don’t want to do it?
The Heroic Life is not for everyone. This means different things depending on whether you’re in or out.
For people who have no interest in living the Heroic Life, it means that’s okay. In fact, I want to discourage people from living this lifestyle. It is a beautiful, fulfilling way of life—but it’s also hard, and scary.
For people who are excited about living the Heroic Life, it means you’re not better than anyone. The whole point of being heroic is to help and protect those who have difficulty helping or protecting themselves. Working daily to make yourself strong only deepens your duty to others. Many people won’t step up and take action for themselves but: the moment you find scorn for them is the moment you forsake heroism.
This leads me to a unifying principle of the Heroic Life:
The Heroic Life never sides with imperialism, oppression, or forced dominion.
Nothing counts as heroic if it violates this principle. Even if you live the rest of the Heroic Life to the letter, if it’s in service of forced dominion over others you will never be a hero.
That’s the blueprint as it stands. I want to talk about my long-term plans for this philosophy, and how it can work as a movement. But what do you think? Please tell me your thoughts: is this philosophy consistent? Does it make sense? Will it work? And is anyone besides me fired up to live it?
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