6 Ways to Find Happiness at Work Right Now


Finding happiness at work may feel like a tall order.

Here are 6 ways you can find happiness at work - right now!


We’ve all been in jobs that weren’t satisfying—where it was hard to find happiness at work, and each day felt like drudgery. Heck, we’ve probably all faced work that was downright tedious!

But the real truth is, you can find happiness in absolutely any job, no matter what you’re doing. I’ve known trash collectors who were satisfied with their work every single day. I’ve known teachers, law enforcement, and social workers who faced difficult, even dangerous situations with a smile on their faces. There are many ways to find joy in work.

Even if you’re not in your dream job, you can find happiness at work right now. If you’re hoping for more satisfaction in the 9-5, here are six tips for finding happiness at work.

1. Let Go of the Idea of “One”

I didn’t think of a career when I was growing up. I lived in a town where everyone had jobs; they might work at the bank, as a firefighter, or in a factory. I was working my first job when someone asked me, “what do you want to do for your career?” I remember it was the first time I’d really thought about the difference between a 9-5 job and a satisfying career path I could choose. It opened up a whole new world.

Not everyone has a predetermined career path. Some people don’t know what they want to do for a job until much later in life—well past their college years. Others waffle back and forth, never feeling fulfilled because they don’t feel settled on their career path or because they think they’ve missed their chance to take on their perfect career.

In many ways, the idea there’s one perfect career out there for us is akin to believing there’s only one ideal soulmate out there for us. It’s a fairytale myth, setting us up for disappointment and unfulfilled expectations. We can’t find happiness at work when we’re constantly looking for something else.

In reality, there are many jobs and careers we could feel satisfied in, but like a relationship, it’s up to us to put in the work. It’s not about the perfect job or the ideal career path, but about the quality of the work we do. We can engage in any task and find satisfaction, meaning, and fulfillment.

For those of us lamenting the idea that we didn’t “follow our passion” or fulfill our dream career, take a pause and think about it. Maybe we would have found creative or intellectual fulfillment in our dream profession, or perhaps we wouldn’t. Maybe the same people and situations that get under our skin at our current job would exist in any setting. Perhaps we would still feel stuck, or eventually, we would get bored because we’re expecting a job to be “perfect.”

It’s not the work but our approach to the work that makes all the difference. We can find happiness at work, no matter what we’re doing—it’s about dedicating ourselves to the idea that we’re in control of our happiness (not waiting for our job to hand it over).

2. Lead from Where You Are

Many of us covet the corner office. We think if we got the promotion, we’d really show our boss our mettle. We’re waiting for a leadership position to appear so we can finally be in charge. We start to think we need to get ahead constantly if we want to feel happiness at work.

I’ve seen many entrepreneurs who quit their “day jobs” and took on their dream career, only to quickly discover they were in over their heads. This idea that we can’t answer to anyone, so we want to become our own boss, is a falsehood. Even entrepreneurs have a boss—their clients,  customers, and stakeholders. If they’re forgotten, no business will be successful.  We all answer to someone if we want to earn a paycheck.

Instead of looking at authority as control to buck against, what if we shift to view it as something to model? Instead of feeling bossed around in meetings and shutting down defiantly, what if you spoke up and shared your thoughts? What if we found our inner leader and lead from wherever we were in the company (even the last rung on the ladder).

I’ve seen many of the best ideas come from people in the lowest positions in the company. Often, these people have boots on the ground. They’re in the trenches, and they see what happens in the day-to-day action. They might be interfacing with customers or gaining a perspective that management doesn’t have. No matter what we do in a job, our voice could still turn the company around and head off major issues otherwise overlooked. If we see a problem—speak up!

It helps to look at our boss as a mentor. Cultivate a strong relationship with them and listen to their feedback, even if it’s tough. Dress for the next position. We should always take the time to put ourselves together, so we draw positive attention. Walk into meetings ready to speak up, engage, and lead. When we start to lead confidently from any position, we’ll begin to move up the ranks.

3. Find Your Purpose

The vital key to happiness at work (and in life) is purpose. Purpose and meaning should drive every interaction.

I’ve worked with plenty of professionals who earn high incomes. They may hold an MBA from an Ivy League school. They may own a big house, luxury cars, and designer clothing, but they’re scratching their heads, wondering why they still can’t find happiness at work.

To feel fulfilled and satisfied in any scenario, we must extract our sense of meaning and purpose. Whether it’s finding the purpose in our relationships, friendships, parenting, or leisure time, purpose is a vital component of happiness.

If we want to find happiness at work, we need to focus on how we’re working to be net givers to the world. How are we providing the world with more than we’re gaining? How are we giving to those around us and bringing out the best in our peers?

Purpose is like a switch. Once we discover it, we’re turned on and engaged. Suddenly our burdens become lighter. Work no longer feels like work because it’s meaningful. We know we’re working FOR something rather than going through the motions.

The truth is happy people are happy in most aspects of their life because they choose to be that way. If we want a great career, we should focus on being a great person. Be a trustworthy person. Be someone other people count on. As we become the person we want to be, our job and career path will align to our values.

4. Challenge Yourself for More Happiness at Work

We can develop ourselves in any environment. People have transformed themselves in dire circumstances. They’ve learned and grown in prison, in concentration camps, and in other unthinkable situations. Development comes from rising to the challenges.

So there are going to be days when we don’t feel happy at work. If the days add up to weeks and months, we may want to consider why our job isn’t sparking happiness. We may want to ask ourselves if our job is too easy.

It sounds strange, right? We all want an easy button. We all think that going through the same motions every day will let us stop thinking about work so much. An easy, stress-free job may sound fantastic, but if we want satisfaction, we need a challenge.

When we enter a new workplace, we feel challenged right away. We’re learning and adapting to a new environment; we’re discovering new ways to complete tasks. Each situation gives us the chance to learn and grow. We’re meeting new coworkers and adapting to the situation.

After a few years, we may find we’re not as excited about our job anymore. It feels routine. Instead of going on autopilot and zoning out, this is a sure sign we need to zone in. We need to level up and find new ways to seek that sense of novelty and adventure in our careers.

I was working with a lawyer who was going through these feelings of drudgery. He was even considering a career change because he wasn’t finding his career fulfilling anymore. He wasn’t finding happiness at work.

During our conversation, I challenged him to prepare for his next case like it was his very first. I told him to go all-in—cram in as much information and study as possible. He followed my advice and came back the next week on a high. He said it was the most significant week of work he’d had in a long time. From there, his career began to completely turn around.

Humans want challenges and stimulation. We orient to novelty. We want to be engaged and turned on to new ideas and activities. If we feel unfulfilled by a job, the solution is to take on a big challenge. If we can’t think of a challenging project to undertake, ask! Go to the boss and request a new challenge. I guarantee they will offer an idea. If we find this idea frightening or daunting, we may need to ask ourselves why we’re avoiding the challenge.

5. Give to Your Network

We often think of networking as a crucial part of growing our role at work. Our network is how we engage with new clients, new leads, and new customers. But networking over happy hour isn’t really building our essential connections, and it’s probably not bringing us more happiness at work.

Our connections with others become stronger when we become net givers instead of net takers. Do we give to our network? Do we provide leadership, mentorship, and advice? Do we invite new connections to share, not because we’re waiting to close a deal or warm up a lead, but because we’re genuinely interested in engaging with them as human beings?

It’s amazing how the dynamic shifts when we stop thinking of what people can do for us, and instead, we think of what we can do for them.

Instead of thinking of our customers and clients as people there to give us money, what if we thought of them as people who need to receive our service? How will we tell them about a product or service that will change their lives for the better? How would we view what we were doing if we knew it provided someone with a necessary service?

We don’t always need to think of giving in tangible ways, either. Offering appreciation, warmth, and encouragement is also part of giving to others. When we engage with others, we’re helping fulfill their yearning to be respected, listened to, to see, and be seen. Fulfilling a yearning is powerful stuff that fortifies our connections.

6. Learn from Mistakes

We all make mistakes. Many of us make big, huge, epic mistakes. Some errors feel like the end of the world, and we wonder how we will ever recover. This is especially true when our mistakes affect our work (and even worse when our boss, team, or customers rely on us).

Mistakes are learning opportunities. As researcher Angela Duckworth writes in her book, Grit: Passion, Perseverance, and the Science of Success:

“…Grit grows as we figure out our life philosophy, learn to dust ourselves off after rejection and disappointment, and learn to tell the difference between low-level goals that should be abandoned quickly and higher-level goals that demand more tenacity. The maturation story is that we develop the capacity for long-term passion and perseverance as we get older.”

In other words, making mistakes and getting rejected helps us determine our path and strengthen our resolve. As we test what approaches work and what approaches don’t work, we narrow our aim. We get better at our job.

It’s tough when we’ve made a blunder. We may have a hard time righting the ship and correcting our path, but we’re much more aware of the proper direction when we do. In each mistake is an opportunity to refine and hone in on our approach. When we make mistakes, we grow, and when we grow, we find more happiness at work.

If we watch kids when they learn, and even when they play, they make mistakes all the time. When a baby falls after taking a few steps, they don’t throw in the towel and give up. They get back up and keep going. Kids are resilient. As adults, we start to question our abilities to bounce back after mistakes.

Instead, keep moving forward and learning. If you want to find happiness at work, embrace mistakes as learning opportunities. Celebrate your mistakes and keep going!

For more on discovering a life of purpose and satisfaction, please visit our courses on WrightNow. We have an array of learning options to help you discover more satisfaction in your career, relationships, and personal life. Start moving toward a life of MORE today.



The Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential is a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Living performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.

Beliefs in Our Family Background: Breaking Family Patterns


For most of us, our family background plays a huge role in our beliefs and perceptions about the world around us.

Wondering how to break the patterns set in your family background? Explore where those beliefs originated.


We may not even realize how much our family patterns show up in our lives today but exploring our beliefs and value systems can be a powerful exercise.

Just like you can’t choose your family, birth order, or parents, you can’t choose the beliefs and family background instilled during your upbringing. Chances are, these beliefs were passed down year after year, generation to generation. They may go back to the days of your grandparents and even before. Some familial traits are great—they make us feel like we’re a part of something.

But not all family patterns are positive or healthy. In fact, some family patterns are destructive and painful. So, how do we break out of our negative family patterns and explore our beliefs?

Figuring Out Your Belief About the World

Our beliefs and worldview are deeply ingrained from childhood. We may not even be able to pinpoint exactly how they originated. We may also believe that there’s no way we still share those familial patterns and traits.

I often hear from people who say they’re nothing like their parents or who really hate it when their spouse says, “you’re just like your mom/dad.” Why does that statement get under our skin? Because we want to believe we’re different. Many of us want to believe that we’re completely independent products of our own choosing. We want to think we’ve identified weaknesses and shortfalls in our parents, and we’ve altered our trajectory. We’ve broken away from our family background.

But it’s incredible that when we scratch away the surface and look a little deeper, almost without fail, there are similarities between people and their parents. These family patterns run deep. It’s not always a bad thing. Sometimes we may model many good behaviors, morals, and values passed down from our parents as well. Even family patterns may be positive, but it’s important that we recognize them and explore them to better understand how they tie into our lives today.

Our beliefs are set up when we’re very young. We may view the world as dangerous because our parents hovered around us in fear, warning us to be careful. We may see the world as open to us because our parents empowered us to go for what we wanted. These seemingly small moments in our childhood shape us well into later in life.

It’s not always our parent’s “fault” either. As Alfred Adler tells us, we formed limiting beliefs as children simply because the world is big and children are small. As a result, we faced restrictions and activities we couldn’t do because of our age or size, reinforcing the idea we were somehow inadequate.

Even if we had a perfect childhood (which no one experiences), the world around us reinforces our limiting beliefs when we’re young. So as adults, we must work to explore and even overcome those beliefs so we can live up to our fullest potential.

When people look at their family background and patterns, they often focus only on the surface. We put our siblings and parents into roles. Someone is the “good son” or the favorite. Another person might be the difficult parent or the challenging sister. We engage in the same interactions time and time again because we’ve set up roles that are comfortable for everyone. These family patterns come out when we interact with our family, and they show up in other areas of our life, too (like at work).

Addressing Family Drama

Stephen Karpman, MD, tells us about the drama triangle. In many relationships, we fall into a dramatic pattern of one of three roles: victim, persecutor, and rescuer.

When it comes to family, many of us look at our family members and quickly identify who falls into what role of the drama triangle. Mom, Dad, or an older sibling might act as the persecutor. There’s always a victim. Then there’s a rescuer who swoops in and fixes everything. Middle children often end up being the mediator or the rescuer. Sometimes, when the parent is the persecutor, the role of the rescuer falls on the firstborn—the one who fixes everything. But as we quickly learn about the rescuer, they will rescue others from everyone but themselves.

The drama triangle can be a sticky family pattern to break out of. It may feel deeply ingrained into our family background—so much so that we may have a tough time admitting which role or roles we play and how we’re repeating it even today.

First, the good news: we no longer need to fall into these family roles as adults. We can recognize these patterns and take responsibility for our role in the drama triangle. Instead of taking on the family background and pattern, we can choose to step out and refuse to participate. To break out of the pattern of the drama triangle, everyone needs to take responsibility for their own feelings and their own satisfaction in relationships.

Because we only control our own behavior, it’s incumbent on us to explore our beliefs and their origins.

We must each do the work to recognize our patterns and take responsibility for our role in the situations presented by our family background. But remember, we can only change ourselves. Unfortunately, we can’t force our adult siblings or aging parents to acknowledge their role or change their behavior.

We can, however, engage in honest, open discussions and share our feelings. We can express our wants and yearnings. Explain to our family members how we feel, where we’re planning to change, and our expectations for the situation.

When It Comes to Family Conflict, Don’t Avoid It

If we grew up in a conflict-avoidant household, chances are we don’t like to rock the boat. We may think it’s easier not to deal with these family patterns, avoid them, and keep moving forward. We may even deny that there’s anything there to acknowledge or work on.

Yet, the avoidance itself is still a continuation of those old family patterns and beliefs. We believe it’s easier not to express our feelings. Perhaps we think we’re bad, we’re wrong, we’re too much, or we’re not enough. We harbor these limiting beliefs and let them hold us back from expressing our truth.

These limiting beliefs and ideas continue to damage our relationships. They keep us feeling disempowered and helpless. They’re reflected in our beliefs about ourselves and our confidence. They keep us stuck in a self-fulfilling prophecy trap. Instead, imagine what would happen if we embraced honesty and expressed how we felt when we visited our family members.

Yes, there might be a family conflict. In fact, there might be several members of our family who aren’t thrilled about what we’re going to say. They might even be hurt, and it might result in the bubbling up of different feelings. But if we operate under the rules of engagement (as outlined in our book, The Heart of the Fight), we will have productive conflicts to bring us closer together.

In the book, we offer several rules of engagement. These rules are essential for any situation but are especially crucial in our most intimate, close relationships—our spouse and our family connections.

The rules of engagement are:

  • Accentuate the positive.
  • Minimize the negative.
  • No one gets more than 50% of the blame.
  • Each person is 100% responsible for their happiness.
  • Express and agree with the truth, always.
  • Fight FOR the relationship, not against.
  • Assume goodwill.

When we follow these seven rules, our conflict becomes productive, no matter the situation. No longer are we bickering or fighting to prove the other person wrong. When we use this approach to conflicts and discussions with our family, we avoid falling into the drama triangle and going through the same damaging patterns from our family background again and again.

Now, as I said, each person in your family only has control over their own behavior. A sister or brother may drive us nuts with the way they parent their children or their interactions with our parents. Rather than swooping in to critique (as the persecutor), fix (as the rescuer), or pout (as the victim), we stop the cycle by recognizing our role and choosing a different path.

How do we bring this idea up with our family members so we all have a better time during the next get-together? We can explain to them we’ve been exploring our behavior patterns and our personal growth. We can tell them we’d like to help set a different tone for this interaction. Then follow the rules of engagement above.

It can also be helpful to focus on the real purpose of the family interaction. For example, if it’s Thanksgiving, what is the real purpose? Is it to sit around and eat turkey with people who irritate us? Or is it to recognize the aspects of our family we love and appreciate? Could expressing our appreciation for them set a different tone?

When the inevitable drama arises, what if we break the family pattern by refusing to engage and instead say, “This upsets me. I want to discuss this more in-depth when we’re in an appropriate, one-on-one setting. Since today is a holiday, let’s spend time loving and appreciating each other.” Then move forward.

At the same time, if we want to change the situation, we should also commit to setting aside time to discuss the topics we want to address. Don’t simply ignore or bury the conflict. Address it, obeying the rules of engagement.

Breaking out of patterns in our family background is a huge, lifelong job. It takes work and self-exploration. It requires us to get to know ourselves and get honest with ourselves about our thoughts and behaviors. It requires us to be honest with our family too. But when we take the time to become more mindful of these patterns, we’re on the right path.

For more ways to find empowerment, please visit WrightNow, where you can explore our array of courses to help you get ahead in your career, relationships, and personal life. These courses are an excellent resource for anyone who wants to discover ways to live a life of MORE.



The Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential is a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Foundation’s performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.

How to Improve Self-Confidence (Hint: It May Be Overrated)

How many of us have heard, “fake it ‘till you make it,” when we wonder how to increase confidence?.

We live in a culture that reveres self-confidence and self-assuredness, but as it turns out, there may be a better approach to success and personal development: self-compassion. While self-confidence makes you feel better about your abilities, it can also lead you to vastly overestimate those abilities, wrote Kristin Wong in her recent piece in the New York Times.

Maybe we’ve heard that self-confidence is the key to getting that new job, landing a date, or making a new connection. Everywhere we look, we’re led to believe that if we simply pretend to project confidence, we’ll succeed—and if we’re not confident enough, we’re doomed to fail. We may look for ways to increase our self-esteem and self-assuredness because we’re hoping to “trick” others into believing we’re better than we think we actually are.

In reality, the opposite may be true about faking confidence. Projecting over-confidence can become a detriment rather than a sign of strength. We’re far better off learning not to lean too hard on our inner-blow-hard OR our inner-critic. Instead, it’s more important to listen to our inner realists, assess the situation, and then use self-compassion and self-affection to nurture and care for ourselves. We can and should identify our weaknesses, of course. But rather than beating ourselves up over challenges, we’d do better to focus on how to use them as an opportunity to grow and expand our capacity.

The Question isn’t How to Improve Self Confidence, But How to Identify Blind Spots

I recently had a conversation with a team member who also happens to be in one of our leadership training groups. He brought up concerns he’s having with a fellow member of the group.

“He’s overconfident in his leadership abilities. It’s actually holding him back. It keeps him from identifying the challenges and growth areas he needs to work on. It’s like he turns a blind eye to any sign of weakness.”

We all have blind spots.

When we meet someone, who refuses to recognize areas where they’re challenged, we should realize they are actually in a very fragile position.

Overconfidence isn’t often a genuine state, and their outer shell of confidence is just waiting to be cracked, uncovered, and disturbed.

When this reality check happens, it’s often particularly difficult for them. In fact, it may be earth-shattering when he or she has to face the truth. It isn’t that they need to learn how to increase confidence, but they need to learn how to increase self-awareness.

In studies about kids and resiliency, it’s been discovered that kids who are congratulated frequently for being inherently smart or “born with talent” tend to rest on their laurels. They learn they can rely on their wit and intelligence to get through any situation. In some ways, they become overconfident in their abilities and talents.

On the other hand, kids who are congratulated for trying hard develop resilience and grit. They keep trying and don’t give up. Rather than simply believing they’re smart, they learn they are ABLE. They learn to have self-efficacy—the belief that they can do something. This belief in their own capability and coping skills serves them well into the future. No matter what challenges they face, they realize they’re able to experiment until they find a resolution. They understand the power of trial and error. They’re not frightened by uncertainty because they recognize challenges are simply part of growing.

The idea of grit doesn’t apply to kids-only. Adults can learn to be grittier too. We learn far more from mistakes than we do from our successes. When we push ourselves to do everything “right” or believe we always know the answer, what happens when we fail? What happens when we face a situation where we really don’t know what to do? We may find that we veer toward the safe zone, and we don’t go out of our range of comfort. This limits our experiences and can hold us back from many great opportunities in life. We may be missing out on the whole picture around us.

As I counseled my leadership group member about their peer—many times, those who can’t recognize their ability to fail are setting themselves up for a major failure. We all have blind spots, and it’s foolish to believe they aren’t there simply because we can’t see them.

Over-confidence keeps us from being really present and aware of our interactions. We can’t truly engage with others—find opportunities to learn and grow from them—if we believe we already know all the answers.

When Confidence Can Set Us Up for Failure

In the late 70s, I was teaching a course at a blue-collar trade school. The students and I had enjoyed a fantastic semester together, and I was deeply honored when I was invited to deliver their graduation address. I felt overly confident in the situation. I believed we were there to celebrate what we’d done with the students. This felt like a situation where we’d toast each other and give out pats on the back.

I confidently assumed my audience would be filled with people who would want to hear us cheer ourselves on. I hadn’t reckoned with the fact that the audience would really be filled with mothers, dragging along belligerent, resentful fathers who didn’t want to sit through a long, self-congratulatory graduation ceremony about the values of higher education were touted. Many of these fathers hadn’t had the opportunity to finish high school, let alone trade school. They were just waiting for a chance to shoot at someone.

And shoot they did.

Because I went into the situation over-confidently, these fathers were ready to take me down. I set myself up for a nightmarish experience of being heckled. What followed was one of the most humbling experiences of my career up to that point.

In hindsight, I realized I walked into the situation believing I was failure-proof. I was cocky and self-assured. I didn’t consider the feelings or viewpoints of those I was hoping to inspire (or at least, hoping not to tangle with). Because of my over-confidence, I was headed for a sure fall.

When we go headlong into a situation with too much confidence, we often fail to plan for contingencies. We don’t look at how we will cope if a situation doesn’t pan out as expected because we think we know it all.

In truth, we can all fail at any time. In fact, it’s often at our most confident and self-assured, we trip up or get our world completely rocked out of the blue. We find ourselves truly blindsided.

Self-Compassion Over Self-Confidence

We have to understand that self-confidence isn’t bad or wrong, but arrogance or a failure to see our blind spots puts us in a vulnerable place. We may be wondering how we strike a balance—how do we keep our eyes open to these pitfalls while maintaining a healthy sense of self-esteem? How do we like ourselves without becoming arrogant?

Just as Ms. Wong reported in her Times piece, the goal isn’t to beat ourselves up over feeling confident or knocking ourselves down a few pegs. The goal is to practice more self-affection and self-care. When we feel powerless or like we lack control over our circumstances, we can embrace the vulnerability and find our inner grit to continue.

We may feel that a display of confidence is where we find the most power, but it’s not. As Wong writes, “Self-compassion, on the other hand, encourages you to acknowledge your flaws and limitations, allowing you to look at yourself from a more objective and realistic point of view. Both have merits, but many experts believe self-compassion includes the advantages of self-confidence without the drawbacks.”

When we treat ourselves as someone who’s learning, who’s capable of making mistakes, but sees them as opportunities for growth, we’re nurturing ourselves.

We’re realizing that we’re human—wonderful and amazing, but still on a path to growth. We’re not perfect because no one is. We’re on a journey of learning and striving to be better each day.

Many of us look at our kids, our friends, and even our spouses, and we may be able to quickly identify their flaws. In fact, those flaws or weaknesses may even cause us to feel MORE compassionately toward them. We’re forgiving of them because we recognize no one does everything perfectly all the time. We love them anyway.

Yet, when it comes to ourselves, we don’t want to admit we’re also learning as we go along. We cringe at our mistakes and beat ourselves up for missteps—replaying them over and over. But in life, our opportunities to grow and learn from each experience are limitless. It’s this growth that adds interest and excitement to life. Each new adventure and challenge helps us feel fuller and more alive.

So give up faking confidence and aim for self-affection and compassion instead! The next time you make a mistake, give yourself kudos for discovering an opportunity to learn, emerge and evolve. Be kind to yourself and keep moving forward as you discover more about how resilient you are!

For ideas on ways to get MORE out of life, don’t miss our courses on Wright Now. We have opportunities to learn more about your career, relationships, and personal growth. If you’re ready to live life to your fullest potential, start today!

The Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential is a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Foundation’s performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.

How to Be a Hero (to Yourself and Others)

Are there people you admire and want to emulate? Here’s how to embrace your heroic side!


Is there someone you admire? Learn how to be a hero to yourself and others.

Do you ever wonder how to be a hero? Maybe you look up to someone great and think, “I wish I could be more like her!” Perhaps you’d like to invoke some of those more heroic traits in your own life.

First, it’s important to remember each of us has unique strengths and qualities we bring to the table. We may look to someone else and wonder how to be a hero (just like we think they are), but chances are, if we looked behind the curtain, we’d find they also struggle sometimes. Their life may not be all the glamour we imagine.

Looking up to someone we admire shouldn’t be about jealousy, comparison, or FOMO. It should be about discovering the principles and values that drive our hero. When we find out those core drivers, we can use them in our own growth and development. We can start to emulate those same principles and learn to live a principled life of our own.

Emulating Our Heroes

The term hero is used to describe anyone we admire. We may think of sports heroes, superheroes, celebrities, artists, great minds, or even friends we look up to. When we think of what makes someone a hero, they usually live up to some higher standard. They’re exceptional at athletics, at leadership, at creativity, or humanitarian acts. We may think of someone great at entertaining, who is at the top of their field, or who pushes beyond their limits.

It’s important to have heroes—people you believe live according to higher principles—whom you can strive to emulate. These are the individuals who provide us with examples, who give us glimpses of what is possible.

Yet too often, we see the power of the person’s life and decide that they are beyond us, that we can’t do what they do, that they are exceptional and different from us. We become jealous or hateful toward them because we think they have what we lack. Rather than put the person on a pedestal, or conversely, try to knock them off, we can choose to see how they live and identify the principles toward which they align. Rather than just thinking, Oh, isn’t she amazing, we can ask ourselves, “How does she live, to what principles is she orienting, and how can I do that in my life? How did Jesus live and how could I do that in my life? How did Martin Luther King live and how can I do that? How did Mother Teresa live and how can I do that?” When you look at athletes, rather than just admiring their accomplishments and seeing them as entirely different from you, see their commitment to excellence and consider how you might replicate that in your own life.

Whoever these amazing people are, look beyond the person and see the principles that are at work in their lives. Your heroes didn’t come out of the womb fully developed and accomplished; they oriented to principles moment by moment and created the life that you now admire.

The One Decision

Embracing Life Principles

What are these hero principles? Do we need to understand them to know how to be a hero? When we talk about principles, we’re referring to the guidelines that we all use to live our lives—our moral compass, our conscious, personal mantra, or values that shape who we are and what we do. Each of us lives our lives oriented to certain principles, whether we realize that we’re living that way or not.

We may live by the principle of intent, or we may live by the principle of victimhood.

We may live by the principle of responsibility or the principle of blame.

Do we see ourselves as the creator of our life experience, or are we simply reacting to the experiences as they come along?

If we’ve never explored our principles and drivers, then comparing ourselves to our hero is a great incentive to dive in. Look around at your friends, loved ones, and the allies in your life. What principles do they embody? For example, I’ve always felt Bob embodies the principle of truth. He’s honest about his feelings and opinions in all situations. He holds to his personal truths and uses them to guide all his decisions.

As we discover these qualities in those around us, we may realize many heroes surround us! Heroism isn’t limited to celebrities or sports figures. Our heroes may be our teachers, our friends, our coworkers, or acquaintances. We can look at the traits we admire in others and figure out what drives them, then work toward embracing those principles within our own lives.

Not only that—but we can all learn how to be a hero in our own right, as well. Each of us possesses many heroic traits we can choose to discover, enhance, and use to drive ourselves toward a life of greater purpose and enjoyment. When we start to embrace our inner hero, we may find that we’re impacting those in our circle of influence and beyond.

Many of us may not realize that aliveness itself is a life principle. Each day we can choose to live with more “aliveness,” more connections, and more engagement. It may sound funny to think of living with more “aliveness,” but how many days do we simply go through the motions? How often do we dull our senses, find ways to zone out, or waste time using soft addictions?

Instead, when we live with aliveness, we start to tune in to the world around us. We open up our hearts and minds to new ideas. The lights go on, and we awaken to more joy and fresh experiences. In every moment, we strive to be more of who we are. We choose to engage with those around us: to connect, to listen, to learn, and to share. At each moment, we can choose to embrace our emotions—joy, fear, anger, sadness, and hurt. We can orient toward our feelings or shy away from them.

Have More Fun with Play

Hand in hand with the principle of aliveness is the principle of play. Now many of us may think of play as “kid stuff” or frivolous. But adults must spend time playing too. When we play, we learn, we grow, we discover. Better still, we have fun. We embody heroism because we’re enjoying ourselves—people want to be like us. It’s within each of us to embrace play in our day-to-day lives. When we play, we’re more alive and present. We’re nourished. We’re enlivened and open to new experiences.

If we want examples of incorporating more play in our lives, we can watch little kids at play. They take it very seriously. They take risks. They experiment. They beg grownups to push them higher on the swing set or to “do it again!” They aren’t afraid to get creative, to use their imagination, and to pretend. They aren’t self-conscious. They go all in.

We should incorporate these elements of play into our own lives. Even the staunchest CEO or most analytical computer programmer can add an element of play to every action they undertake. Challenge yourself to go further. Look for new ways to think of projects. Experiment with new ideas and embrace and learn from mistakes. Play involves plenty of trial and error, but the stakes don’t feel so high because, after all—we’re having fun!

When we talk of values and principles, we often think of a stoic, reverent, “principled” person. Yet, the principles of aliveness, play, and living in the here and now are equally as crucial as reverence and seriousness. Of course, principles like truth, responsibility, and choice are also vital to living a good life. We may see many of these qualities in the heroes we admire as well. A principled person holds to these high standards—they embody and emulate positive principles (but they also do it with joy).

Mahatma Gandhi said, “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” So when we look at figures like the Dalai Lama or Gandhi as examples of heroes, we may start to see something interesting. Yes, they often hold very high principles, but with a twinkle in their eye—a spark and a sense of humor. That’s the aliveness that we’re seeking. It’s that joy that makes a hero truly dynamic and magnetic. People are drawn to their kindness, their goodness, and their happiness. We want to be like them because we see that they enjoy who they are.

So if you want to become more like your hero, take a look at their qualities. Many heroes operate from a place of love, truth, faith, abundance, and responsibility.

They believe they’re in control of their lives, choose who they want to be, and decide what they want to do. They don’t blame others. They don’t pass the buck or shirk responsibility. Instead, they own up to mistakes and use those mistakes as opportunities for growth.

We can each become the hero of our life adventure. If we wonder how to be a hero, we can also do a little exercise to get our gears moving on the concept. If we were someone else’s hero, what would we want them to say about us? When we’re noticed, how do we want people to notice us? How would we want to be described by those who admire us?

She embraces life with joy.

He’s engaged and exuberant!

She lives life fully with no excuses.

He always accepts his responsibilities and gains strength from setbacks.

Sometimes, we gain a clearer picture of how to be a hero when we think of it from an outside perspective. How do we want others to see us? How can we move toward that concept and realize our inner hero more fully?

Discover what principles are most important to you in your life and make them part of your personal values. We can each live a heroic life!

For more ways to discover your fullest potential, explore our courses at Wright Now. We have an array of online classes and discussions that can help you make new connections in your career, relationships, and personal growth. Start living a life of MORE today!

The Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential is a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Foundation’s performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.