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.
This website is about how to use the Hero’s Journey as a mudmap for solving life problems. Here you will find information about:
- How you might consider your life as a Hero’s Journey;
- How to use the Hero’s Journey as a mudmap for problem solving;
- Examples of Hero’s Journeys from literature and movies; and
- Information 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 essentially a story about problem solving. A person (the main character) encounters a change in their life circumstances. This results in a significant and unexpected problem that they don’t know how to fix. The Hero is required to attempt a lot of scary, often dangerous tasks which eventually resolves the problem, though never in the way they intended. Think Snow White after her father remarries, or Katniss Everdeen who has to volunteer for the deadly Hunger Games to save her sister.
Every Hero’s Journey story is the story of how the person goes about solving their major life problem.
The story usually starts with the Hero having little idea about what to do, feeling overwhelmed and lost. They are then usually forced to undertake a series of scary, difficult, sometimes impossible tasks, yet each task is a necessary step in solving their problem. At some point they experience a major setback, yet heroes somehow survive and go on to resolve the problem.
But something else also happens in every Hero’s Journey. Heroes are no longer the same person. Undertaking all the tasks, attempting the impossible has changed them as a person. A part of them has died and a new one born.
Your life as a Hero's Journey?
What if the Hero’s Journey is repeated across time as it reflects what happens in our lives? 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, we too can use the Hero’s Journey as a compass, a mudmap to finding a 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.
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.