A theory about heroes

If you watched the Super Bowl, you probably witnessed the emotional moment where US Airways super-pilot Sully was recognized as a hero, then seconds later, Jennifer Hudson sang the national anthem.  

In that moment, two tear jerkers occurred: A world recognized a hero (Sully) and Hudson bounced back from her personal tragedy to rock the national anthem.  As the moment unfolded, I could feel a lump in my throat and a pain in my stomach (it wasn't the chips). What was happening?  

In other words, what emotion(s) made us weep?  

Most experts agree that there are 7 basic emotions: Sadness, Anger, Disgust, Fear, Interest, Surprise and Happiness.  So, which emotion makes us cry when a hero is recognized or overcomes?

Here's my theory: In the case of Sully, we saw a hero receive due recognition. His life was 'made' in the moment. For him, we felt a strong emotion, happiness. The tears were tears of joy, triggered by a deep sense of justice and fairness in our hearts.  

In the case of Hudson, we saw a tragic figure rise above her situation and show us her best. In this case, we shed tears of sympathetic sorrow for her loss — and joy for her recovery. 

In both cases, the "hero-threshold" is reached, and we suspend our scarcity and forget about our problems. In that suspension of scarcity, we experience happiness for others in their success. Short of that threshold, the good but non-hero, we don't suspend our personal scarcities and might respond with jealousy, cynicism or disbelief.  

What does all this mean? Finding heroes in our life is important to overcoming our scarcity mindset (not enough credit to go around…I have the biggest problems or needs in the world). Sometimes, as in the case of this Super Bowl moment, the hero was carefully produced by the media over time.  That's not enough to sustain our suspension of scarcity.  

We've got to lower our hero-threshold and make a daily practice out of finding heros. It will help us learn to cheer for others, and solve any feelings of scarcity when it comes to respect and recognition. We need to keep our eyes open for people worse off than us, that somehow rise up like a Phoenix. If we do, I have no doubt we'll experience more happiness and eventually recondition ourself to see abundance everywhere we look.