How can I become a hero?

What makes people heroes

Heroes impress us. They make us feel good, they inspire us. They motivate us to get the best out of ourselves - because they do it themselves. Can anyone do that? Yes, write psychologists Philip Zimbardo and Zeno Franco in the magazine of the Greater Good Science Center at Berkeley University.

What is a hero Wikipedia quotes the Zedler lexicon from the middle of the 18th century: “Held, lat. Heros, is someone who is gifted by nature with a handsome figure and exceptional physical strength, who achieves fame through brave deeds, and who is above the common class of those people raised. "

But this concept has survived. Heroism is not emerging. Heroes have no specific history, they were not trained, chosen, or prepared for their role. Zimbardo's and Franco's concept of the "banality of heroism" states that everyone is a potential hero. We're just waiting for the moment in life when we can finally do something heroic. And many of us will at some point be faced with a choice: act heroically? Or go on and pretend you haven't seen anything?

We become heroes when we have the opportunity to recognize them and act. But that doesn't happen as often as it could. Two assumptions about our everyday life prevented people from acting heroically. The psychologists want to expose them as false:

  • On the one hand, that heroes have special - and of course very rare - character traits, are almost superhuman. This is precisely not the case.
  • On the other hand, we often assume that someone else will take the initiative.

Are we so bad? The German police also complain on their action page Tu Was: “However, there is often no help: on the one hand, because there is a lack of knowledge whether and - if so - how help can be provided. And secondly, because many are afraid of the inconvenience that their own commitment could bring. "

But there is hope. In good examples - and in research.

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“Let us consider heroism as a quality of human nature,” write the two scientists. Only when we no longer believe that there are individual chosen ones, "then heroic deeds become possible for everyone - and perhaps more people will feel inspired to follow this call." And that, as happiness research teaches us, only serves us : Those who help others are happier.

Incidentally, there is also a solution for people who would like to be heroes, but have not yet really dared to act. Zimbardo and Franco call the method “Heroic Imagination”. We should imagine how we could react in demanding, perhaps physically or socially dangerous situations. If the moment actually comes when we have to prove ourselves, we are better prepared mentally.

With three steps we should be able to promote the "heroic imagination":

  • First of all, we should be attentive to what is happening around us
  • ... and don't be afraid of conflict with others when we defend our values ​​and principles.
  • And we should think long-term. What are the consequences of what is happening now? And what have we seen in the past that we can learn from?

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Of course, there are different types of heroes, they all deserve our respect, our gratitude. It is those people who help others, who hang in there so that others feel better. Bring the children into life or have an idea with which they can make the world a little better.

However, heroism goes further than selfless, altruistic action. “Altruism emphasizes selfless acts that help others. Heroism, on the other hand, has the potential for greater personal sacrifice, ”write Franco and Zimbardo. "At its core, heroism is about personal devotion to a noble goal - and the willingness to accept the consequences of a struggle for that goal."

It's about people who make sacrifices. Who put themselves in danger. This list ends with people like Adel Termos, who threw himself on a bomb in Beirut to save others. He himself died in the attack.

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We wanted to tell exactly these stories when we - just! - for six months sat in a rocky backyard in Berlin and imagined how ze.tt once could be. It should be stories of heroes. Lo and behold: we found them! They helped refugees, fought against bullies and fought for their profession. You impressed us. They serve society through their actions, but above all they serve as role models for us.

In the days leading up to Christmas we will think again on Instagram and Facebook of some of the stories that have particularly inspired us. If you know more of these people, let us know at [email protected]