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 how problems get solved but only through personal change.

Here you will find information on how to:

  • Consider your life as a Hero’s Journey;
  • Use the Hero’s Journey as a mudmap for problem solving;
  • Learn from 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.

The main character encounters a change in their life circumstances.  For example, the arrival of a new person, moving to a new town, a death of someone dear).  Inevitably. this change leads to a significant and unexpected problem they don’t know how to fix. The Hero must then attempt scary, often dangerous, tasks which eventually resolves the problem, though never in the way intended.  For instance, think Snow White after her father remarries, or Katniss Everdeen who has to volunteer for the deadly Hunger Games to save her sister.  Or Hamlet who learns of his father’s murder.

Snow White unexpectedly has a big problem when her father remarries

In other words, every Hero’s Journey is the story of how someone solves a major life problem.

The story starts with the Hero having little idea about what to do, feeling overwhelmed and lost. They are then forced to undertake a series of scary, difficult, sometimes impossible tasks, yet each task is a necessary step in solving their problem.  Inevitably, they experience a major setback, yet heroes survive and go on to resolve the problem.

Transformation

Something else also happens however in every Hero’s Journey.  Heroes are no longer the same. Undertaking all the tasks, attempting the impossible has changed them as a person.  In short, a part of them has died and a new one born. They are transformed.  They have become 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