Life’s Adventures Can Suck

The heroic mindset celebrates the highs and embraces the lows.

The word “adventure” is a funny animal. I’m going to go out on a limb and speak for most people (always a dangerous proposition these days, but here goes): When we hear the word “adventure,” the majority of us have a strictly positive connotation for it. Adventure implies a journey from one awesome moment to another. It makes us think of nothing but good times.

However, I want you to really stop and think about the word “adventure.” In adventurous stories, from ancient mythology to modern comic books and everything in between, there can be some dark moments. Moments of conflict, tragedy, defeat, and sadness.

Examples of How Adventures Can Suck

Spoiler alert if you haven’t seen the original Star Wars or The Lord of the Rings movies (but who hasn’t at this point?)

Luke Skywalker is forced to leave his farm after his aunt and uncle are burnt to a crisp. Then he eventually meets one of the worst guys in the galaxy, who turns out to be his father. Then, Luke gets his hand cut off…by his father.

Frodo Baggins is asked to carry a piece of evil jewelry across the world, suffering all along the way. He lashes out at his best friend, gets a wound that never heals, watches people around him die, and then ultimately fails the quest at the very end (only to have a creepy asshole steal his thunder and save the day).

What Heroism Teaches Us About the Suck

It seems obvious, right? Of course, stories need to have highs and lows. They need conflict, otherwise, they’d be boring. Without the bad times, how would we recognize the good times?

If this is common sense, then why do we persist in thinking of the word “adventure” as containing only the highs? Perhaps that’s just part of the human condition. We don’t want to think about the lows of life; that makes us uncomfortable, and as a species, we’re wired to avoid the uncomfortable. We want to focus only on the good stuff. Look no further than the curated social media pages we share with the world, depicting nothing but the most wonderful moments of our lives.

But ignoring the lows leads us to stagnation at best, and intolerance at worst. When circumstances threaten our comfort and endanger the highs of our “adventure tunnel vision,” we can get angry. We’ll often look to blame other people (rather than circumstances or ourselves) for our woes.

The lesson of heroism teaches us to embrace the lows of life, rather than fixate unhealthily on the highs. This doesn’t mean we have to give up and grudgingly accept the lows, however. Heroism also teaches us to seek to change the circumstances that bring us down. If we can’t change the circumstances, then we can change how we react to them. This is easier said than done, of course. There is struggle on the path to change. But the struggle is worth it if it leads us to increased mental and emotional well-being.

Choose Wisely During Your Daily Adventure

Heroism cautions us to avoid taking the easy routes of scapegoating or injury to others in our quest for satisfaction in life.

Luke Skywalker was fearful of becoming like his father. He resisted the evil Emperor’s easy path to power and certainty through the Dark Side of the Force, refusing to strike down his father Darth Vader and take his place. Luke threw away his lightsaber, and the Emperor sought to kill him for following a more noble path. In the end, Luke’s heroic choice caused a change of heart in Darth Vader, who saved his son from the Emperor.

As for Frodo Baggins, he returned home greatly changed. This new Frodo became a leader in his community, showing his people possibilities and beneficial behaviors beyond the static, unchanging routine of their daily lives. He and his fellow hobbits, armed with more worldly knowledge, fought off an invasion of their homeland. The wisdom Frodo learned from his adventures, both positive and negative, gave them the skills and the confidence to stand proud when no one expected them to do so.

So, here’s your call to action: Enjoy the highs of your daily adventures while you embrace the lows and learn from them in order to rise to the challenge. A rich and fulfilling life is found when you walk through a balance of darkness and light.

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A version of this post appeared on The Good Men Project.

Image Credit: Pixabay

Author: Anthony Simeone

I'm a writer, speaker, and an advocate for everyday heroism. I have over two decades of experience in the practical application of literature, philosophy, psychology, and other disciplines. The culmination of my work is the Live the Hero program, a life philosophy that promotes personal development combined with service to others. Live the Hero combines the wisdom found in the arts and humanities with the latest discoveries related to research in heroism science and positive psychology. You can learn more at livethehero.com.

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