Why did ancient people do heroic things? According to the Iliad, the Odyssey, Beowulf, the Song of Roland, and just about every other epic, people did amazing things for a simple reason: Glory.
Glory is when you receive great praise and distinction for your achievements. It is sort of like fame, but better. Glory carries an implication of heroism. It is something great that shines through the drudgery of everyday life.
In the Mythic Ages, opportunities for glory were everywhere. Around every corner there was a monster to slay. Across every sea there was a city to conquer. In every sky there were gods to displease.
Short of fighting wars and killing monsters, how can we mere mortals achiever glory today? Glory might seem like a relic of the past, but its really not. Every time you do something you can be proud of, that is a little bit of shining glory.
What types of things count for glory? All types of things! If you are really good at sports, or even video games, this is a great opportunity for modern glory. Though I recommend pursuing new glorious moments over dwelling on the past. It does little good to bask in the diminishing glow of a high-school touchdown, or to revel in your sniper rifle skills in Halo 2. As long as you are getting better, and not getting bitter, competition is a great resource for modern glory.
Earning awards and accolades is another way to gain glory. It is awesome to be named valedictorian. It is great to get employee of the month. It would be amazing to be elected to a high political office. These awards are indeed shining occasions that can make epic days out of the ordinary. Recognition is indeed a great source for modern glory. But be careful not to count it as your only supply. There is more to life than the esteem of other people.
The best source for modern glory is simultaneously the most common. Little things, like remembering to make your bed in the morning, hearing from the dentist that you don’t have any cavities, successfully updating drivers on your computer. These are the little things that make me proud, and as a result make my day a little bit brighter. The things that make you proud might be different. It doesn’t matter. The important thing is to recognize the little things that make you proud. If they are easy, and you can do them a lot, so much the better.
Don’t expect songs of your deeds to echo through the ages. Just because you are proud of yourself doesn’t mean you deserve a statue. Unless you make the statue yourself, which would be something to really be proud of.
Everyone celebrated humanity’s great moments. It is up to you to celebrate your own small bids for glory.