The Hero's Journey:
A mudmap for solving life's problems?

The Hero’s Journey is a story that appears in cultures from across time.  Essentially it’s the story of problem solving but only through personal change.  In other words, every Hero’s Journey story tells us the same thing.  The problem that is caused by someone else can only be resolved when we change.  It’s unfair.  It’s annoying.  But every Hero’s Journey ever told, read or seen includes this one element.  Problem solving requires personal change and as much as you may not like it, as much as you may think it’s unfair, unjust or criminal, personal change is required.

So, take a breath and take the time to consider your life as a Hero’s Journey and how you might begin to resolve the problem of your life.

Here you will find information on how to:

  • view your life as a Hero’s Journey;
  • use the Hero’s Journey as a mudmap for problem solving it;
  • read and view examples of Hero’s Journeys from literature and movies; and
  • learn more about Joseph Campbell, the scholar and teacher who proposed the idea of the Hero’s Journey.

What is the Hero's Journey?

The Hero’s Journey is above all a story about problem solving.

In every story ever told, read or seen, a change in life circumstances, created a problem for the person we call the hero.   Red Riding Hook takes a different path and a wolf tries to eat her and her grandmother.  Harry Potter receives a letter from Hogwarts and leaves the only life he has ever known..  Both Rey and Luke Skywalker meet a droid and their lives are never the same.    Inevitably, change leads to a significant and unexpected problem and they don’t know how to fix.

All heroes must then attempt scary, often dangerous, tasks which eventually resolves the problem, though never in the way intended.  Red Riding Hood has to outsmart the wolf.  Harry Potter has to deal with someone who is trying to kill him, the same person who murdered his parents.  Both Rey and Luke Skywalker find themselves in foreign places fighting for their lives.

Snow White unexpectedly has a big problem when her father remarries

Problem solving your life

In other words, every Hero’s Journey is the story of how someone solved a major life problem yet came to have a life much more rewarding than their old life.  Get the idea?

All stories of heroes tell us the hero has little idea about what to do, or where to go.  They feel lost and overwhelmed. They are forced to undertake a series of scary, difficult, sometimes impossible tasks, yet each task is a necessary step in solving their problem.  Almost always they experience a major setback, yet heroes survive and go on to resolve the problem.

Transformation

Above all, in every hero’s journey, heroes are changed.  The person we meet at the beginning of the story is not the same person at the end.  Undertaking all the tasks required to solve their problem, attempting the impossible feats that are thrown their way, has changed them.  Essentially, they are a different person; older, wiser, but more their true selves and this is key!    They have become more their true self, a more complete version of themselves.

Your life as a Hero's Journey?

Jake Sully in AVATAR is reborn by solving his life problem

What if the Hero’s Journey is repeated across time as it reflects what happens in our lives? Is so, we too encounter unexpected or unwanted events that create problems. We too may have little idea how to address them.

Like the heroes across time, use the Hero’s Journey as a compass, a mudmap to finding  your resolution.

Life often presents unwanted problems.  What if the Hero’s Journey offers a way to find a possible solution?

We have not even to risk the adventure alone;
for the heroes of all time have gone before us;
the labyrinth is thoroughly known;
we have only to follow the thread of the hero-path.  

 Joseph Campbell, 1949.

Using the Hero's Journey as a mudmap for life
The Workbook

A Mudmap for Living

 

This book was written at a time in my life when I was lost. I had spent a lot of time and effort trying to create the life I thought I wanted and it just wouldn’t fly. Doors kept closing in my face. Expectations were dashed. People I wanted to impress weren’t. People I wanted didn’t want me. My life seemed like a continuous exercise in huge effort for little reward.

The book is an easy-to-read description of Campbell’s Hero’s Journey, detailing what to expect at each stage and what is required to progress to the next.  It includes many examples of everyday life viewed as a Hero’s Journey with questions and case examples to help you identify where you are right now in your own Hero’s Journey.

Read more about the book