The Hero’s Journey

Joseph Campbell’s body of work into the field of mythology is very relevant to the topic of stress. Through stories, fables and myths in all cultures, Campbell noted a trend in the storyline; a concept he called “the hero’s journey,” also known as the spiritual journey. The hero, he said, 1) departs: going from the known to the unknown (facing fear all the way), 2) accomplishing a task (also known as the initiation stage or baptism by fire… also producing fear)… and 3) returns home upon accomplishing the task as “the master of two worlds.” One time while explaining this concept in a keynote speech, a fellow in the front row murmured under his breath (I embark on the hero’s journey every time I get on the L.A. Freeway!). His point was funny, yet true. Our lives are a series of hero’s journeys where upon we encounter stress on a regular basis and are invited to overcome it. There are two ways to meet stress, however. The first is as a victim (also known is psychological terms as “victim consciousness.” —as the saying goes, “Once a victim, twice a volunteer”). The second way is as the victor. The choice is ours. Campbell said when the hero is on the right track, the journey is blissful. Take his advice and follow your bliss!

(Note: I will be away at a wellness conference and resume this blog on Thursday July 23rd. Thanks!

• Stress Tip for the Day:
Take an honest look at your life today and observe which path you have made a habit of taking; the victim or the victor. The path of the victim tends to be one where we hear constant bitching, moaning and whining about how “bad” things are. Victims are complainers and often add a touch of sarcasm, pessimism and typically see the glass half empty, if not broken. Complaining is easy. But, as the expression goes, “pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.” The path of the hero is the high road. It takes work to hike the high road, but the views are incredible!

• Link Worth Noting:
I found two links of Joseph Campbell that may be of interest. Better yet, consider investing the PBS 6 part series where Bill Moyers interviews Campbell. Although this was filmed in 1987, the content is ageless and as relevant today as it was when it was filmed.
I might also put a plug in for the latest Harry Potter movie I saw yesterday: Harry Potter, like so many great stories IS the Hero’s journey. As Campbell said, we gravitate toward these stories to find our way back home.

• Photo of the Day:
A photo of the Edith Clavell Glacier near Jasper National Park in the Canadian Rockies (which by the way is melting at an alarming rate). I selected this photo as a symbolic picture of the hero’s journey. Many of our biggest stressors appear to be roadblocks on life’s journey. But we are never given a problem that we are not able to handle… when we put our minds and hearts into it.
• Quote for the Day:

“Follow your bliss.” — Joseph Campbell

Brian Luke Seaward, Ph.D. is an internationally renowned expert in the fields of stress management, mind-body-spirit healing and stress and human spirituality. He is the author of over 10 books including the bestsellers, Stand Like Mountain, Flow Like Water, Stressed Is Desserts Spelled Backward, The Art of Calm, Quiet Mind, Fearless Heart and Managing Stress (6E). He can be reached through his

© Brian Luke Seaward, Ph.D.

Brian Luke Seaward

Author Brian Luke Seaward

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