Playing dress up is not just for children: Humanist Jennifer Hancock for Saturday, Oct. 31, 2015

Halloween is a time for youngsters to dress up and pretend to be something they are not.

This is the first year my son doesn't want to go as something scary. Instead, he's going as Link from the Legend of Zelda games.

His costume isn't about what he fears.

It's about who he aspires to be -- a hero with an ocarina and a sword.

His transition from focusing on the things that scare him to how he might overcome his fears to achieve greatness is important.

Some people get stuck in their fears and never move onto conquering them.

This is why playing dress up and pretend is so important, and not just for little ones.

My news feed in September was full of free-thought friends in cosplay at the various conventions they were attending.

Their costumes were almost all scientists and philosophers. They aspire to be like their intellectual heroes.

While we might aspire to be just like our heroes, the reality is to be at our best while under pressure requires practice.

This is what pretend play is. It's practice.

It helps us become the people we aspire to be.

Humanism is tied to the humanities, to the stories we tell about what it means to be human.

What are the challenges of living?

What are our demons?

How do we find the courage to fight for what is right against enemies that terrify us?

To best answer those questions, we need to find someone who has done just that.

If someone else can find their courage, perhaps we can, too.

It doesn't even matter if the hero is made up. Just knowing someone else struggled with the same fears and overcame them fortifies us for the struggles we face.

How often, when you are confronted with a difficulty, do you ask yourself: "What would my hero do in this situation?"

Most of us do this, and those who don't, should.

Figuring out what is right and moral is sometimes difficult.

Finding the courage to do the right thing despite the difficulties is even more so.

Reminding yourself your hero would do the right thing despite the difficulties helps you overcome the inertia holding you back so you can act with courage.

One of my favorite lines from the Baghavad Gita is: "Each man's God, his conception of Deity, is himself at his best magnified to infinity."

I find this is true of heroes, too.

So the question is, who is your hero and why?

And what are you doing to be the best version of yourself that your hero inspires you to be?

Jennifer Hancock, Hancock, a humanist educator and the author of several books, is at and on Twitter@jenthehumanist. Faith Matters is a regular feature of Saturday's Herald.