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How to live like a hero

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I`ve always admired Ayn Rand heroes, especially Roark. I`m reading the Fountainhead for the second time now, studying Roark`s actions and how he moves through the world. I really admire and find completely amazing the way he is indifferent to the people and focus only on what he wants. I`m so passionate about the way he lives his life in the novel, that I find myself trying to model him in my daily life.

“Howard Roark saw no one. For him, the streets were empty. He could have walked there naked without concern.”

The problem is that I can`t manage to do it. I can`t help noticing people in the streets, and sometimes I catch myself thinking about and judging acquaintances in my mind. I can’t` help it! If someone says something bad about me or I hear that someone is trying to let me down, I get pissed off! Diffferently from Roark who remained calm and centered, without hard feelings for Keating.

“He turned to look at her, trying to remember who she was.”

I don`t know if it is just me, but it is impossible to control our feelings. For instance, I`m not comfortable walking on the street without a shirt, let alone naked like the quote above! Also, if I`m in a restaurant and I notice that a person that I don`t like is in the house, I get uncomfortable. I care about what people say about me. But I guess that is because all my life I learned to care about that, and now it is automatic, and worst: unconscious!

When I face problems or decisions I can be quite objective, but when it regards my thoughts and body and other people I just can`t handle it. I don`t know how to fully adopt objectivism in my daily life and I need help from you guys. I want to be like Roark, indifferent to the people that don`t mean nothing to me. I know that he is a fictional character but does anyone leads a life like this? How to apply the principles of objectivism in our daily lives? How to be and live like Howard Roark?

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You have to remember that not everybody IS a Roark type hero in the world. Objectivists would never tell you that you should not strive to achieve the rational status of Rand or Roark or Dagny or Galt, but they certainly would not expect it to be inherent in every single Objectivist.

Realize that growing into Objectivity takes time. It is not something that happens over night. What you are having issues with is your sense of life. You have a philosophy that you respect, admire, and want to practice, yet it goes against your pre-conceptual sense of life that you formed before you decided to adopt this philosophy. Changing one's sense of life is not easy but it can be done, I am living proof of it.

I have gone from being a stark Communist and a Christian to being an atheist who wants to learn about Objectivism everyday and hopes to one day know enough about Objectivist to call himself an Objectivist. Don't stress, it can be done and it takes time. Remember, there is no such thing as a causeless emotion. When you have emotional reactions to things, think about why you are having that reaction. Check your premises and change them.

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How to be and live like Howard Roark?

You are asking how to live your life second-handed. It does not matter that your model is Roark, it is still second-handed and wrong.

It is not possible to control your feelings directly, stop trying. What you do is learn to focus your attention on what is important to you. This method is compatible with a number of different personalities, don't try to ape Roark's mannerisms in every detail.

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"If I were to speak your kind of language, I would say that man’s only moral commandment is: Thou shalt think. But a “moral commandment” is a contradiction in terms. The moral is the chosen, not the forced; the understood, not the obeyed." - Rand

If you want to look at people, do it. Morality is about choosing to think so that you do not want to do irrational things. First you come to understand why an action threatens your happiness intellectually, and then later you'll come to understand it emotionally. Correcting the basic premises which direct your emotions will take time and work, but it is the key to reaching integrity and getting the weight off of your mind.

1. Don't let guilt run your life - that's the opposite of philosophy. Have fun with it.

2. Don't let people bother you when they demand unearned love, forgiveness, admiration, or respect. Simply understand that you cannot actually give these things - because they are automatic responses to virtue in other men. You'll forgive someone when you see he's learned a moral lesson, not when he coerces forgiveness out of you

3. Be comfortable with judging people when you meet them. Its a virtue, its natural, and its necessary for identifying the good.

4. Consider therapy to get over your fear of others. You're going to have to understand how you formed your premises if you ever want to change them.

Edited by Q.E.D.
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Ferris, I have been studying Oism for about eleven years and have only been a true Oist for about two. It takes time and effort, like anything else worth doing. I had to re-wire my mind to reject Altruism, which is the default setting for most Australians( unless the Prime Minister tries to cut off the internet porn supply, then suddenly everyone's an Egoist). I now measure my progress with milestones, such as buying private health insurance. My dedication to Oism has led to disbelief and outright hostility from friends and family, but I know my path and will follow it with integrity. Always set the highest standards for yourself and always discriminate.

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Good input from everyone, and I'd like to add - not to take Rand's heroes literally.

Not easy, as they are powerfuI and quite intimidating, figures.

I have several literary heroes (Roark, a big one) and they were all invaluable to me - one or another will spring to mind at some difficult time with the fleeting thought "What would xxx do?"

(Notice, not - what would he think? what would he feel?)

This may or may not, influence what I decide to do. To state the obvious, your hero embodies values and virtues that you recognize and wish to emulate, and his name alone brings them to mind in an instant.

The values are what count, primarily, not the character who symbolises them.

It's a little like a young artist who starts off in the footsteps of great artists he intensely admires, but looks forward to the time he finds his own unique 'voice' and achieves his own greatness.

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I do not accept lots of what some people said here. Though you shall not be a hero by means of the will to be the exact second-handered version of Ayn Rand or of Howard Roark, which is a fake and contradictory (and therefore second-handered), nor O`ism will teach you how to achieve virtues completely, and especially in regard of art but you can certainly turn your sense-of-life into an absolutely more HEROIC one.

I have done it, and I can swear I do not find any opinion of strangers which does not touch my moral future directly valuable, due to the fact I am totally FOCUSED in any action I pick to perform. I do not act accordingly with my automatic whims anymore, and even if I did feel something because I was considered a ``nerd`` by the sexy-girl of my class, all I can remember on this period is boredom. The most usable medication for a bad sense of life is a closed philosophic system to be understood completely and therefore by any stage of your conceptual faculty.

P.S., you may find Roark`s apathetic nature---the acceptance of any sanction of the victim (HE is the victim),---which may seem somewhat ``selfish`` or ``independent,`` an influential and appraisable attribute of him. To be precise, it is his very Achilles Heel, and I think that Rand tries to emphasize it in her book, whereas John Galt has a full philosophic system and knows how to fight an initiation of physical force better than any barbarian who had invented it does.

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Thanks everyone for the response!

I think i`m getting what some of you are saying here. I understand that emotions of any kind are not causeless and that in order to stop having them I have to check my premises and change them. But how to do that exactly? I`ll give an example that is currently bothering me a lot: I broke up with a long time girlfriend and last week I saw her with another guy. You have NO IDEA of the kind of feelings that were running through my body at the time. I felt anger towards myself for feeling them. Even though I knew, logically, that we broke up, and that she was doing nothing wrong, I still couldn’t help it.

A lot of you said that it takes time and practice to realle become and adopt Objectivity in one`s life. By time and practice you mean a lot of reading? A lot of studying?

“Realize that growing into Objectivity takes time. It is not something that happens over night. What you are having issues with is your sense of life. You have a philosophy that you respect, admire, and want to practice, yet it goes against your pre-conceptual sense of life that you formed before you decided to adopt this philosophy. Changing one's sense of life is not easy but it can be done, I am living proof of it.”

Maken, I want to change my sense of reality. Since you have done it, can you tell me what you did to accomplish it?

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Thanks everyone for the response!

I think i`m getting what some of you are saying here. I understand that emotions of any kind are not causeless and that in order to stop having them I have to check my premises and change them. But how to do that exactly? I`ll give an example that is currently bothering me a lot: I broke up with a long time girlfriend and last week I saw her with another guy. You have NO IDEA of the kind of feelings that were running through my body at the time. I felt anger towards myself for feeling them. Even though I knew, logically, that we broke up, and that she was doing nothing wrong, I still couldn’t help it.

Maken, I want to change my sense of reality. Since you have done it, can you tell me what you did to accomplish it?

Surely you must know that every one here will have SOME idea what you felt.

At a pre-cognitive level, Objectivists are also feeling, empathetic, humans.

But why on earth should you stop having those feelings?

Objectivism should not be confused with stoicism, I think.

O'ism states that emotions are not tools of cognition, so they should not be acted upon.

With that, deep introspection can and does show where feelings originate, whether triggered by a sight or a memory (as with your ex), or mostly by faulty premises you hold subconsciously (such as "my ex-girl-friend is still my property").

I'm not meaning to be harsh - for one thing, I think I know much of what you are going through, and it isn't easy.

On the contrary, and this may be 'off the chart' as far as O'ism is concerned, but I have learned what a good friend to me my feelings are. They help me be more aware, and make me think even further than normal. Rand herself gave them value as our 'barometer.'

"Sense of reality" is an interesting one. I think everyone has the tools (perception and rationality) to have the same fundamental sense of reality; also, that our 'equipment' is perfectly capable of handling life. What goes wrong is one's evasions of reality, in a multitude of ways.

I'd like to hear what other posters say on that.

(I notice you addressed this to Maken - oh well, I chimed in first.:thumbsup: )

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I think i`m getting what some of you are saying here. I understand that emotions of any kind are not causeless and that in order to stop having them I have to check my premises and change them. But how to do that exactly?

I would not say that you should want to stop feel emotions of any kind, there is no emotion that is "wrong" to have. There's nothing wrong with being angry, sad, happy, or whatever. What matters is that you ask yourself why you might feel a certain emotion. Maybe you had a very good reason to feel anger, maybe not, only you can know. Just to emphasize, emotions are an automatic thing, and usually you don't need to ask why unless you have reason to suspect your reaction was from some sort of irrational premise, like a phobia for example.

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Hey Ferris,

It's great to have heroes, both real and fictional, people you recognize as exceptional and worthy of admiration. Roark is high on my list too. But you need to figure out how to be your (best) self, not how to be Roark or anyone else. I think I am echoing a lot of posters here in some regard but I really want to make the point that people are different. They are individuals. I think the fact is often lost, but even several supremely rational people will be very different from each other due to personal preferences, life experiences, optional values, etc. This is a GOOD THING. You will feel best in the end if you find your own unique road to rationality and happiness. It will be even better because you truly own it.

That said, you can take advantage of well-established, successful mental techniques (such as unblinking rationality and a commitment to yourself not to evade anything) that we're all familiar with here to help yourself. You already have all the tools you need.

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Thanks everyone for the response!

I think i`m getting what some of you are saying here. I understand that emotions of any kind are not causeless and that in order to stop having them I have to check my premises and change them. But how to do that exactly? I`ll give an example that is currently bothering me a lot: I broke up with a long time girlfriend and last week I saw her with another guy. You have NO IDEA of the kind of feelings that were running through my body at the time. I felt anger towards myself for feeling them. Even though I knew, logically, that we broke up, and that she was doing nothing wrong, I still couldn’t help it.

A lot of you said that it takes time and practice to realle become and adopt Objectivity in one`s life. By time and practice you mean a lot of reading? A lot of studying?

Maken, I want to change my sense of reality. Since you have done it, can you tell me what you did to accomplish it?

There is a difference between having a sense of reality and a sense of life. Reality is what it is. It exists independent of our consciousness and our "sense" or our interpretation of that reality is either right or wrong. I would recommend understanding Objectivist epistemology and metaphysics before trying to approach the ethics and how to apply it to your life.

As for your sense of life, it is much more difficult to change. You have been guided by the mystics ethics your whole life and your sense of life has developed into a sense of life guided by fear and unknowing. "Sense of Life" is pre-conceptual and you cannot change it directly by an act of volition. You can, however, make a decision to STRIVE to change you sense of life and that will happen over time as you apply Objectivism to your life.

I might be wrong in my understanding of "sense of life" and what I am saying in general, don't take what I say on faith because even though I do try to understand and Objectivism, my only source of discussing the philosophy and trying to understand it comes through these forums and reading Rand's books so I might be wrong completely.

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