How to Be a Hero

heroWhat makes a person a hero in your book? Do they need to leap from tall buildings in a single bound? Or maybe a hero for you is someone that stops a hit-and-run “runner” from getting away or saves a baby from a burning building. If you read the papers, you will surely find the word hero sprinkled in heavy doses when you read a story about something such as this…and maybe they are. Depends on your definition of hero I guess.

If we are to be one of hopefully many heroes in our children’s lives (and what parent on the planet doesn’t want to be their kid’s hero, I ask you…) we must first explore what it means to be a hero. Want to come exploring with me? Jump in…the water is fine.

I asked a friend what makes a person a hero, and she told me “a hero is someone who lives selflessly”. She too was concerned with the idea that people who do heroic acts are automatically deemed a hero. We collectively agreed (as an impressive research focus group of two…) that this is of concern and needs a closer look. What if a person does a really wonderful thing out of less than wonderful intentions…like greed, jealousy or hate…and we go and mindlessly reward this person with the coveted title of “hero”? What then??! How are our kids to know fake heroes from the real ones? The ones with hearts of gold??! Auggghhh…eureka. We’ve hit pay dirt…a “heart” of gold. There in lies the answer (me thinks). There’s a part the newspaper sometimes forgets to consider before dolling out the title hero…the state of a person’s heart.

My personal definition of a hero is someone who lives with their heart open. This has and will forever more evoke my deepest respect and admiration. People living with their hearts wide open. They are all around us really, despite the pain and fear and suffering that exists in the world. Look for them today. It is a beautiful thing to behold. I know you know what I am talking about. If you have ever been inspired by another person in your life or felt loved when love was not due to you…then you have been in the presence of a hero.

Just watch for it. People who live with their hearts open inspire naturally; whether it’s the janitor at your child’s school that knows every child by name or a well know basketball player that plays for a love of the sport, inspiring children of future generations to believe in themselves and to follow their bliss. ANYONE who lives life with an open heart is a hero in my book. If they happen to perform selfless and heroic acts upon the way, so be it. But I do not see the importance of focusing solely on the acts…the “do”ing…I’d rather focus on the person…the “be”ing.

Musicians, painters, poets, authors, mailmen, mothers, fathers…anyone and everyone that feels the pulse of life deeply and brings it into clearer focus for others to witness as well…this is the stuff of heroes. Through an open heart, a hero experiences the beautiful, delicate, flawed flower of life and delivers a taste of it to others in who they are, how they live…and maybe even in the things they create. Heroes help us to live with our hearts opened up just a little bit more.

What if we all lived this way, each day setting out with the intention of being a hero…living with our hearts open? We might just start to rub off on another…and before you know it, people everywhere would be inspiring other people to open their hearts just a little bit wider to the experience that is life.

How to be a hero? I think the real question for me as a parent is how can i open my heart (to my children, my spouse and my life) just a tiny crack more each day?

If today you open your heart, if you risk living and loving from that deep, raw, open place…you are my hero. Here is a song from snow patrol, CRACK THE SHUTTERS…that helped me get a new ray of light to shine from my heart today. I hope it does the same for you.

Suzanne, aka Zen Mommy
In addition to mommying to two magical girls born in 2000 and 2003, Suzanne owns a holistic health center in St. Louis, Missouri where she practices as a physical therapist, Certified Infant Massage Instructor and health education teacher. Certified in a number of healing and life education approaches, Suzanne offers life coaching as Zen Mommy Coach.


  1. I HAVE felt love when love was not due me and you are right, that person is a hero in my life.

    All those people who picked LOVE as their #themeword… you are DEFINITELY heroes!

  2. shelley, you are a love warrior of the strongest kind. our prayers are with you in this difficult time. please visit shelley’s blog and send her your love. she is my HERO.

  3. I think you are off to a good start here. Personally I would set the bar even higher. I’d like to differentiate between “personal heroes” and the other kind of heroes. I think the captain of the AA plane that landed in hudson river fits the second category.

    Someone how could solve the ridle in the Middle East and bring peace to that region would also be a hero in my book.

    I guess we all have our own definition. I like your WAY BETTER than the mainstream definition that the media throws at us all the time.

  4. yes, the AA captain is a hero. much loved by many these days and an inspiration to many. personal heroes/public heroes…the key is that we look to the heart. it is from here we inspire and are inspired.

    could a person with an unpure heart solve the middle east crisis and bring peace? you raise a great question. and if they did, for only unpure reasons (maybe power, $ or ego) would they be a hero? anyone? i’d love to hear more readers thoughts on this. great angle to look at klaus…thanks!!!