Even religion can act as a fantasy. There are many benefits of a healthy religious practice, but there are also the promises. Karma, heaven, faith—different ideas with a shared purpose. These are concepts that encourage people to stay the course even when the course is not what's in their hearts.
Together, all of these factors conspire to kill action. They push our lives toward the grain of normalcy. They offer a benefits package to compensate for giving up our dreams, but like any cheap prize, those benefits give only momentary happiness.
I believe people can do better than that. To follow the heroic path is to declare that you will not settle for the usual, for a C+ life. It is a choice to put your time and effort not toward sustaining the everyday "good enough," but toward unplugging yourself and having a higher level of freedom.
This in turn allows you to follow your dreams. To live them, not just imagine them.
In the fight to do these things, you will find amazing help coming from unexpected places. Once you set your jaw and march firmly toward your dream, the people around you will sense it. They will be inspired, and they will want to help. Some will be jealous, but most will be impressed. Suddenly, instead of conspiring to shove you toward normal, the people and things in your life will conspire to shove you toward success.
This advice is not for everyone. Maybe you wake up every day feeling giddy about where you work and what you do. Maybe every dimension of your life is already saturated with passion and joy. If that's the case, you're already living your dream. Good work.
For those who haven't yet found that state, I humbly suggest that the first step toward change is not to hope, but to do.
Here are three ways to make it easier:
- Don't accept substitutes. Instead of playing Assassin's Creed or Guitar Hero, go join a parkour group or take guitar lessons. In less than a year you'll be pretty good.
- Enthusiastically learn new skills. It's amazing what a mind-changing experience it can be to learn something way outside your normal skill set. Recently a friend asked if I wanted to learn to spin wool into yarn. It's a far cry from my usual fare of blogs and longswords, so I gladly accepted. Last year I learned to drive a tractor. These skills may never be directly necessary in my life, but they sharpen my mind and remind me I can learn to do anything.
- Harness your fantasies for your own good. Take a moment and ask, "If money was no object and nothing stood in my way, what would I be doing with my life?" Then ask: "What can I do today to move toward that?"
I'd love to hear about your dream and what you're doing to move toward it. To talk about the heroic life, follow me on Twitter. I'm open 24/7.