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8 Lessons I’ve Learned from the Characters of the Avengers

8 Lessons I’ve Learned from the Characters of the Avengers

Who would have thought a summer blockbuster could be so entertaining, yet so thoughtful? Marvel’s The Avengers worked on a lot of levels. It’s definitely a popcorn flick, but it also makes you think about important topics like honor, belief and taking orders. Here are eight lessons to be learned from The Avengers.

1. “You people are so petty… and tiny.”

thor
    “Godly” people may see the “ungodly” as weak. Some of the people who are in power need to learn the Avengers lessons that teaches how humility goes a long way. Sometimes we have to bring those kinds of people down to earth, like the way that the other Avengers ground Thor and make him appreciate humanity.

    2. “Seeing, still working on believing.”

    Iron Man
      Not everyone is going to accept the fantastical at face value. Even Tony Stark, a man who fights and flies in an armored suit, is hesitant to believe that actual gods roam the earth. That kind of skepticism is good up to a point; no one wants to be naive. However, if disbelief in something is preventing you from moving forward with your life, you need to learn to accept that thing even if you don’t fully understand it yet.

      3. “Puny god.”

      hulk
        Even if you accept the existence of gods, they don’t control your life. Even the most powerful people don’t own you; you choose your own destiny. Their control over you only reaches as far as you let it reach. Remember that even the most “godly” people in our lives are puny if we don’t give their godliness too much weight.

        4. “You don’t understand. Have you ever had someone take your brain and play? Take you out and stuff something else in? You know what it’s like to be unmade?”

        ??????????????????????????????????
          When you aren’t in control of your life anymore, things go wrong fast. This is one of the Avengers lessons Clink Barnes a.k.a. Hawkeye learned when someone literally took over his mind, and it’s one we should take heed of in the real world, too. We run serious risk of being too controlled, whether that be by a friend, a superior, a controlled substance or something else. Remember, though, that even if you’ve been unmade, you can be made whole again.

          5. “We have orders, we should follow them.”

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          Cap

            Captain America, in true soldier fashion, believes that orders should be followed, no questions asked. Keep in mind that he just awoke from the World War II era, and his beliefs may be antiquated. Most people believe today that there’s a lot of danger in not questioning the orders we receive, including many of his fellow Avengers. Case in point:

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            6. “I recognise the council has made a decision, but given that it’s a stupid-ass decision, I’ve elected to ignore it.”

            fury
              According to Fury, even when you’re facing the most powerful people in your world, you shouldn’t take orders if you don’t believe in them. Especially not if the actions have terrible consequences such as, for example, destroying New York. Take even the most respected and influential leaders’ words with a grain of salt, unless you want to risk making a huge mistake.

              7. “We could… use… a little worse.”

              black widow
                Sometimes, as Black Widow can attest, we have to go further than we ever knew we could to achieve goals that are truly worth it.

                8. “Aaargh!”

                coulson2
                  Pro tip: don’t get stabbed through the heart with a giant spear. But if you do get stabbed through the heart with a giant spear, make sure it was for a good purpose. Agent Coulson laid down his life because he believed in the Avengers’ mission. His Avengers lesson was the most costly by far, but it was a meaningful death as he was protecting the people he put his faith in. To be like him stand for the right causes; don’t waste your time on trivial matters.
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                  Matt OKeefe

                  Matt is a marketer and writer who shares about lifestyle and productivity tips on Lifehack.

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                  Last Updated on July 17, 2019

                  The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

                  The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

                  What happens in our heads when we set goals?

                  Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

                  Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

                  According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

                  Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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                  Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

                  Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

                  The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

                  Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

                  So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

                  Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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                  One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

                  Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

                  Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

                  The Neurology of Ownership

                  Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

                  In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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                  But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

                  This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

                  Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

                  The Upshot for Goal-Setters

                  So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

                  On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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                  It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

                  On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

                  But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

                  More About Goals Setting

                  Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

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