Well, there’s the obvious reason. Heroes and their shining heroism make the world a more lovely place. A place that glows through strengthening the underlying connection among all of us, the “web of belonging” that late mystic and visionary John O’Donohue so poetically identified. A place that is warmed and illuminated by compassion and generosity.
What is a hero, anyway? Being “a hero doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to jump off a bridge into freezing water to pull somebody out of the water. Being a hero can simply mean recognizing a situation where somebody is at risk and making the effort to go and just help them. It could be even seeing an elderly person having difficulty crossing the street or seeing a person perhaps being bullied and intervening,” explains neurosurgeon Dr. James Doty in his marvelous 11/8/18 interview on podcast On Being.
As much as heroic acts shower benefits on intended recipients, heroism is a gift that keeps on giving by inspiring others also to behave expansively, altruistically. Dr. Doty again:”...What we forget sometimes is, even smiling at another person, which takes very little effort — for that person who receives that, it can mean an immense amount. And not to forget that these small, little actions, these little ripples, can actually end up creating a tsunami if each of us engage in them. Remember — and we know this from the science — when a person sees another person engage in a positive behavior, they’re many, many times more likely to engage…” in that same kind of behavior.
The same is true for negativity. No surprise there, right?
And there is yet another ripple of positivity. Dr. Doty explains in scientific terms what I have been experiencing for years with my kindness practice, including my Santa Hat adventures. You probably have been, too.
He tells us that the “physiologic effects that individuals get, or what occurs in terms of making them feel good or having the release of these hormones associated with reward is actually quite amazing.”
Why be heroes? Because we generate this trifecta of gifts. We burnish the gold of our connectedness. We spur a sparkling ripple of positivity. And we stimulate our own “feel good” chemistry.
Wow. ‘Think it’s almost time to retrieve the Santa Hat from its cozy nest. Abundant blessings to you!