The Heroic Imagination Project

The immediately preceding blog explained Professor Zimbardo’s concept of the potential for good versus evil that is present in our species. There are situational factors that can push most of us to the evil side. Research regarding these situational factors was presented in the immediately preceding healthymemory blog post. There are also systemic factors stemming largely from poverty. However, I believe that Zimbardo would argue that there is present in all of us the potential to make us heroes in adverse circumstances. That is the objective of the Heroic Imagination Project. Moreover, this project can assist us in fostering our personal and social growth. The mission is to teach  individuals the skills and awareness needed to  make effective decisions in challenging situations.

They have developed a number of programs which have been designed to be useful for anyone and which incorporate the findings of recent and classic research in social psychology and related fields. Their programs teach ordinary people how to develop the skills needed to resist such behaviors as bullying, negative conformity, and mindless obedience and to act wisely and effectively during challenging social situations. Their programs use videos, stories from research, and hands on exercises to teach people about the psychological tendencies we all share, as well as how relying on them in unclear or novel situations can cause problems or even be dangerous. They evaluate our programs to verify that these programs are providing a measurable and lasting benefits for our participants and partners.

The Human Imagination Project believes that true heroism is not something reserved for those rare individuals who  accomplish something extraordinary or who take impulsive risks, but rather is a mindset and set of habits possible for anyone to achieve. They seek to redefine heroism and make it more relevant for a 21st century world as no longer being the exclusive province of the physically brave, but also embodied by any individual with firmly held ethics and the courage to act on them. Perhaps the most important aspect of heroism is the ability to create positive change in challenging situations.

According to the Heroic Imagination Project (HIP) heroism is the active attempt to address injustice or create positive change in the world despite pressures to do otherwise. It may involve coping effectively in unclear or emergency situations, helping others in need, or may involve setting and achieving goals to promote the well-being of others. Habits of wise and effective acts of heroism can be learned, encouraged, modeled, and are achievable by anyone at any point in their lives. Inspirational heroes like Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, Jr., Vaclav Havel, and Irena Sendler harness the power of heroic imagination. The heroic imagination is the natural capacity we each possess to dream of a better tomorrow. At the HIP, they teach individuals the skills and awareness they will need to begin to translate these ambitions into reality. They believe that each of us possesses the ability to grow and to create meaningful and lasting change; a mindset that encourages our willingness to act on behalf of others or in the defense fairness and equality.

The approach of the HIP centers around:

1) Making people more aware of their universal (or culturally bound) human tendencies in social situations, as well as when uncritically relying on them can be problematic or even dangerous.

  1. Providing them with a model of key psychological processes which affect important outcomes and which are difficult to perceive without training.

  2. Teaching them research-based strategies and techniques for creating change in each areas

    I strongly urge you to visit www.heroicimagination.org

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