Hero Or Villain?

Sometimes it seems like our society likes a good villain as much — or even more than — a hero. Do you like Darth Vader or Luke Skywalker more? How about Hannibal Lector or Clarice Starling?

Share why if you wish.

Hero Or Villain?

What Do You Wish You Were Doing?

If money, time, expertise, or other limiting factors were not an issue, what would you choose to do? In other words, if you could do exactly what you wish to do, what would it be?

Too often, we get hung up on reasons we cannot do something. It takes too long to learn how to do it. It doesn’t pay enough to support me full time (or is too expensive for a hobby). I’m not good enough, or there are too many people who are better than I am.

As a thought experiment, what would you do if none of that mattered?


Listen to a podcast where Michael and Lee discuss the related question: ‘How do you define success?’ We also discuss a bonus question: ‘Is happiness the most important purpose in life?’


Obviously, some of these things do matter. If, for example, your dream is to play basketball in the NBA and you are 5’5″ and 50 years old, your dreams simply aren’t realistic.

Some hurdles are insurmountable. But most aren’t, and it is important to know the difference.

A big part of that is narrowing down what you really want to be doing. If you dream of being a rock star and playing in sold out arenas, is your dream to play music, to entertain people, or to be famous? The answer could change what the obstacles are to achieving your dream, and could point you in the direction to start.

But the very first step is to dream. In your dream, with no one or no thing standing in your way, how do you see yourself? What do you wish you were doing?

Related questions: What makes you the happiest? What do you want? To what should we aspire? What do you do with a day off work?

What Do You Do That No One Else Does?

There are traits and behaviors that set you apart from others in your community. What types of things do you do that no one else does?

You might think that with nearly eight billion people in the world, everything is accounted for. There are no traits or abilities that one person has that are different from the billions of people all around the world.

However, that’s not true at all. While you certainly may have some shared commonalities with others, the combination of past experiences and internal differences makes you unique.


Listen to a podcast where Michael and Lee discuss the related question: ‘What makes you you?’ We also discuss a bonus question: ‘What gives a person value?’


It is certainly true that a larger overall population means that there are people who like the same thing. For example, you might find just a few – or even zero — people who like the same obscure band you like if you live in a small town. There will be more of them if you live in a big city.

And yet, your totality is as unique as a snowflake. There is no one else who has the same brain connections that you have. No one has read the same books, in the same order, and has the same conversations. Just like there is an endless difference in our different fingerprints, there is infinite variation in brain patterns and experiences.

So what sets you apart? What are the things that are unusual about you? What do you do that no one else does?

Related questions: Why do we like what we like? What makes you you? How do you judge yourself? What gives you purpose? Do you feel lonely?

What Do You Wish People Knew About You?

Suppose you make a new acquaintance at a social gathering. What is the one thing you would like that person to understand about you? Is there some essential bit of information that defines you as a person?

Maybe it is your chosen profession, or a particular hobby you enjoy. Maybe you feel you are defined by your belief on some topic, or your political leanings. Some people seem to think their musical tastes, or the movies they enjoy, is important to understanding who they are.


Related: Listen to an episode of the Intellectual Roundtable Podcast, where Lee and Michael discuss this question: ‘What makes you you?’ We also discuss another question as well, ‘What gives a person value?’


Similarly, even people who have known you for a long time may not know the real you. Do you ever feel as if there is a facet of your personality hidden from your friends and family? That there is something you know about yourself that others don’t seem to understand?

If you could control how others saw you, what would you choose to emphasize? What do you wish people knew about you?

Related questions: Why do we care what strangers think of us? How does creative expression help us to know ourselves better? How do you think others see you?

Can You Be Defined By What You Don’t Like?

I think most people tend to define themselves by listing things that they like. But can you be defined in the opposite way, by listing things that you don’t like?

It is conventional wisdom in politics that you cannot win an election by being against things. You need to tell voters what you are for in order to secure their vote.

Is the same thing true in life? Does it make a difference if you define yourself positively (what you like) rather than negatively (what you don’t)? Does life behave like photography, where everything is captured in a  photographic negative, but then that develops into a full picture?

Might there be a psychological toll associated with being consistently opposed to ideas, concepts, and even material things? Can you be defined by what you don’t like?

Related questions: Why do we like what we like? What music do you dislike that everyone else likes? When should you not follow the law?