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4 Ways to Be Your Own Hero

Photo by Matej Jur?evi?
A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles. ~Christopher Reeve

What makes us love Harry Potter or most action movies? Why do we always cheer for the good guys? Why do we love a good story of challenge, perseverance and triumph?

Why makes these stories timeless?

The story of the hero has not changed for thousands of years. Since ancient times our traditions and culture venerate the myth of the hero on a mission. A hero leaves his or her home, faces challenges, triumphs and usually returns home as a changed man or women.

In 1990 the late American writer and intellectual Joseph Campbell wrote of the hero’s journey — the mythological journey that all men and women go through in life. He believed that the highest purpose in life was to complete this journey like some mythological voyage.

A hero is without shape and beyond time; the human need for heroes transcends all cultures.

One Simple Way to Improve Your Confidence

Photo by Jill Wellington
If it scares you, it might be a good thing to try. ~Seth Godin

During that awkward phase of high school when you are just as confused by what your math teacher says as what your hormones are telling you, my life shifted dramatically by the most dreaded experience for all school age children — I changed schools.

Thanks to the infinite wisdom of the local school board and their new school zoning policy, I was required to change to a new high school as a freshman. The standard adjustment period from elementary to high school was made exponentially more unenjoyable by the fact that my new school had an entirely new social demographic.

I went from the average awkward teenager to one who was so scared of just being looked at as he got off the bus that my entire body would break out in sweat. Forget talking to girls — walking through the halls at recess was difficult enough. All those eyes looking at me!

My family and friends encouraged me to be “more confident. This is perhaps the worst advice you can give to someone who is border-lining on social anxiety disorder.

8 Tips to Start Living Your Dream

Photo by Eli DeFaria
It is never too late to be what you might have been. ~George Eliot

We all had dreams while growing up. We all thought we could do anything then. We all wanted to be firemen, policemen, teachers, Superman and so on and so on. Ask any young child, and they would light up when they told you what they would like to be – they truly believe they can do anything. We all agree with them, and make them believe it.

We also had those dreams when we were kids, but somehow we lost them along the way. What happened to us as we grew into adulthood? Where did our dreams go? Why aren’t we doing all the great things we thought we could do as children?

When did we lose the fire in our eyes?

I was that child who thought I could do anything, but when life stepped in all that changed. I knew I wanted to become a writer, but I was told that was not and could never be a career. I was constantly told to follow in my cousin’s footsteps.

6 Ways to Overcome Obstacles

Photo by Sandeep Murali
Your big opportunity may be right where you are now. ~Napoleon Hill

We’ve all got evocative childhood memories — some that stick out more than others. For me, one of the most powerful memories, not to mention one of my most favorite, began when I was just four years old.

I was a shy child. In fact, I was painfully shy. I only really talked to my family, my cabbage-patch kids and occasionally, my pet rocks. With kindergarten fast approaching, my parents were understandably worried. They wanted me to be comfortable talking to other kids in class and to teachers.

Thus began one of my favorite memories.

3 Tips for Accomplishing Anything

Photo by Flashback Tunisie
Nothing builds self-esteem and self-confidence like accomplishment. ~Thomas Carlyle

About a month ago, I finished knitting my first sweater. I’m so proud of it; I think I’ve worn it more often than anything else in my wardrobe since then. When I tell people I knit it, most people — even some of the knitters — say “Oh, there is no way I could do that.”

I used to feel this way too. About sweaters and novels and 14-mile hikes and much more. I think a lot of people, including myself, look at a big project that is seemingly over their heads and decide they will fail before they even begin.

But tackling something you think is huge isn’t about having loads of time to dedicate to it or even all sorts of ambition. It’s about stamina and persistence. Sure, you might only be moving an inch every day, but a year from now, you’ll be a lot farther ahead than if you never started at all.

In the past few years, I have worked on loads of different “big” projects. I’ve knit an afghan. I wrote a novel. I saved money for several big vacations. While they all have different outcomes, I looked at every one with similar attitude and approach.

3 Ways to Build Your Confidence

Photo by Anastasia R
A great figure or physique is nice, but it's self-confidence that makes someone really sexy. ~Vivica A. Fox

Confidence isn’t something you’re born with. And confidence isn’t something only a small portion of society is blessed with.

Nobody is blessed or born with self-confidence. I’m no exception. I had to earn my self-confidence the way I have to earn respect.

And that fact hasn’t changed. Confidence building is an ongoing task we all have to pursue in all areas of our lives.

It’s easy to look at people like Beyoncé, or whoever you believe radiates confidence, only to feel insecure and inadequate in comparison.

Beyoncé (as well as everybody else) had to build the confidence muscle and exercise it relentlessly to be as confident as she is.

4 Ways to Stop Procrastinating

Photo by Susanne Nilsson
Procrastination is opportunity's assassin. ~Victor Kiam

After a nice walk on a Saturday, my friend told me she had some housework to do and was weighing her options.

“I really don’t want to do it now, but if I wait until Sunday night, it’ll put a damper on my whole weekend. It’s like I won’t really enjoy anything until it’s done.”

Boy, could I relate. I had been the world’s worst procrastinator in high school, somehow managing to pull off amazing feats of academic strength with all-nighters, but that all changed after an incident in college.

I stayed up late into the night finishing a paper and had to drive to class to hand it in. (Oh the days when professors wouldn’t accept email files!) On my way back, I was exiting off the freeway and a cyclist ran a red light in front of me. I was so exhausted I didn’t notice him right away.

3 Ways to Know What You Want

Photo by Kurt Budiarto
If you don't know where you are going, you will probably end up somewhere else. ~Lawrence J. Peter

I was riding in a taxi cab with a few coworkers years ago after a long day working a convention when I said something I thought was basic knowledge.

“You’ve got to know what you want in life,” I said matter-of-factly. “I think the reason so many people are unhappy is because they’re busy chasing things they don’t even want.”

One of my coworkers laughed and called me a guru. I took the compliment. But she also said this:

“If that’s our problem, then fixing it should be easy, right? We just need to figure out what we want.”

In saying that, she’s sent me on a bit of a quest these past years. How do I know what I want? How can I help other people figure it out too?

How to Succeed Through Acceptance

Photo by Antoine Robiez
Of course there is no formula for success except, perhaps, an unconditional acceptance of life and what it brings. ~Arthur Rubinstein

I’ve spent a great deal of my life trying to figure out what I should do next, determining where I stand in relation to those around me, creating a harsh comparison between where I am and where I should be.

In these moments of contemplation, I’ve always found a way to diminish the beauty of where I stand today. What is out there always seems a little brighter, a little more impressive than what already surrounds me.

And this way of thinking and interacting with the world plants the belief that action is king — action is the only way to change and change is the only way from point A to point B.

But what if you’re supposed to stay at point A for a little while?

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