For many, Superman is one embodiment of heroism. He’s like the modern answer to Hercules, Theseus or Gilgamesh. He’s a mythic archetype, and a pop culture phenomenon whose insignia is known across the globe.
He’s the Man of Steel…he is Superman! Yet while his adventures have thrilled readers for generations, there are many who feel that, as a character, he’s too “perfect” to be taken seriously as an aspirational figure.
Batman, on the other hand, is a character that any of us could be if we were born into near-infinite wealth and trained our bodies and minds all day long.
As an archetypal figure, pop culture creations like Superman need to be taken in context: they’re meant to be both human and more than human. Superheroes are meant to give us hope that we, as ordinary people, can aspire to accomplish extraordinary things.
Whatever your feelings about Superman, I think we can all agree there are many positive life lessons we can learn from this “strange visitor from another planet.” The following are four I’d like to highlight:
The value of humility
Superman could rule the world with an iron fist if he wanted to (indeed, a version of him did in the popular Injustice video games). Nonetheless, the best Superman stories show that the character is a paragon of humility. He doesn’t use his gifts to make others feel small and worthless; he uses them to show people how to make the best of themselves.
Likewise, we all must do our best to use our knowledge, skills, and talents for the betterment of society and those around us, rather than using them to try and elevate ourselves above those who look up to us.
Learn to live with the things you can’t change
Despite all his powers, Superman can’t save everyone. If he let it, the weight of all those he was unable to save would crush him. The only way he can keep himself sane is to resign himself to the fact that there will be some things he cannot change, while still doing his best to make all the positive contributions he can.
If you strive to do your best for your family, your community, and the environment, it may well feel like a never-ending battle. Remember to take time to celebrate yourself for all the things you have accomplished and all the people you have helped, and let yourself accept the things you can’t change.
Don’t be afraid to defy others’ expectations of you
In the film Man of Steel, we get a great line from Superman’s birth father Jor El: “What if a child dreamed of something other than what society had intended? What if a child aspired to something greater?”
Just as Superman represents a push against society’s expectations, so should you constantly strive to be more than what others expect of you (including yourself). Push yourself to try new experiences and learn constantly. Even if this means getting into a new sport or genre of music (check out some suggestions at www.theticketmerchant.com.au). Never let yourself be defined by other people’s expectations.
Be the positive example the people around you need
Superman is not only the leader of the Justice League. He’s also the positive example from which the other heroes of the DC universe take their lead. There are many who will look to you for leadership in your life and career, from your colleagues to your kids.
Therefore, you should constantly push yourself to be the leader and role model they deserve. This may require you to cultivate a new level of patience and understanding of others. Put in the work to reach that new level of tolerance, it will pay off in the end!
Previously published on livethehero.com.
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