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Live a ''Hero-Full'' Life
Adapted from the works of Susan Jeffers, Ph.D.

There is not a month that goes by without the hullabaloo of another superhero action movie or TV show. While these films and shows can be entertaining and sometimes even thoughtful on what it means to be a hero, they are a poor substitute for real-life heroes. Susan wrote about this in her book Embracing Uncertainty in a chapter called ''Collecting Heroes.''

Susan liked to ''collect heroes'' - individuals whose life stories were as inspired as well as inspiring. She often talked and wrote about Viktor Frankl, a concentration camp survivor and influential psychologist who wrote the book Man's Search for Meaning. His story and work inspired Susan, leading her to understand, ''That we have the choice to live in a state of spiritual well-being instead of a state of misery.''

By ''collecting heroes,'' Susan was tapping into a wellspring of inspiration. When we feel like our lives are at their very worst, we can look to our real-life heroes to encourage us to not only accept what is going on in our lives, but to be able to see the opportunity within it.

If they can learn and grow from their experiences,
I can certainly learn and grow from mine!

Susan wrote, ''I'm going to show you how some who have experienced the very worst life has to offer have made something profoundly uplifting and enriching out of it all. They had a choice of seeing themselves as either a victim or seeing themselves as a winner of valuable life experiences. They chose the latter and the result is a magnificent lesson for us all.''

In addition to Viktor Frankl, Susan found a hero in Ram Dass, who had long been a spiritual teacher to her before he was incapacitated by a stroke. Even after the loss of control of his limbs, Ram Dass continued to be a beloved spiritual leader to countless people around the world. In ''Collecting Heroes'', she names several other heroes of hers who she looked up to and whose stories she relied on in times of need. When she thought about what her heroes went through, it helped to put her own problems in perspective.

''In fact, the difficulties most of us face are easy in comparison. But even if we did have to face such extreme difficulties, we would know from our heroes that, if they can learn and grow and find the gifts in it all, so can we.''

So rather than getting lost in another blockbuster movie, or binge-watching a superhero TV show, look to the stories of real people whose life experiences are inspiring to you. ''It's now time for you to collect your own heroes… people you can look to when things are not going well in your own life. Susan suggested that to start collecting your own heroes you should look in newspapers or books, watch TV, or even to look among your own acquaintances and friends. When you start collecting, you should ask your friends and family who they consider to be their personal heroes. This is a good source of ideas. As Susan said, ''Heroes are in the air, all around you, but you must pay attention.''

She also recommended creating a notebook or journal just for your heroes. Make notes about what their experiences have been and what they have learned from their experience. By keeping your hero collection together in one place you will have a convenient list to refer to when you need inspiration. Susan referred to her notebook time and time again to help her remember that if others have experienced the worst and became a better person for it, then she could too.

So remember, fill your life up with inspiring individuals, learn from their experiences, and ...

Live a ''hero-full'' life.

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