This week on North By North West I talk about heroes. The heroes that you had as a child or even today can be a great tool for discovering more happiness in the moment and in the future. You can hear it on the podcast here. Look for the episode from February 27th, 2016.
How do I start?
Make a list of :
- Three of your heroes from childhood. Superheroes count, but so does sweet Aunt Myrtle and your imaginary friend.
- Three people you admire today. Hero might feel like too strong a word, so start with ‘admire’. This list can include real and fictional people, so heroes from books or movie plots count.
- Across from each hero/object of admiration write down what you admire about them. What makes them a ‘hero’ to you? Are they brave? Generous? March to their own drummer? Saving the world? How are they inspiring you?
And lastly, read through your list.
- Are there themes?
- What surprises you?
- Where are you living these attribute
- Where are you, even in a small way, living like your hero?
The Hero and the Gratitude Journal
Gratitude Journals are said to increase people’s satisfaction and happiness. They help you take the time to notice what you have and appreciate it, which leads to a feeling of contentment. Noticing how you are like your hero is another way to appreciate and recognize yourself living a fulfilling life. Noticing is very powerful. Practice seeing where you are stepping into life as your hero models. By naming it and being aware, you will be more satisfied.
This is the moment I need to be rescued by my superhero!
Ask yourself: who do I know/admire that would know exactly what to do or say in this situation?
For example- you want to quit your job and go out into a new self-employed venture. It’s a terrifying thought. Take a look around your life. Who do you know who is living a self-employed life? How are they walking that life? What friend is fearless or loves new adventures? How would they tackle this? What would they say? If you step into their shoes you can access those traits you admire. If it weren’t in you already, you could never see it another.
Writing the Hero’s Journey
The Hero with a thousand Faces is a book by Joseph Campbell. Written in 1949, it put forward the idea that from culture to culture, the story of the hero is the same. The elements of challenge, struggle and rebirth into a new life are present in all of them. Batman, Luke Skywalker, The Buddha, Frodo, Christ-all their stories share key elements. So does your story. We are the hero/heroine of our own life story. When we feel overwhelmed or stuck, we see no end in sight. Everything seems hopeless. This is the time to write your story as the heroes Journey. Then you can discover that struggle is a chapter. Not the whole story. In fact, if you look back over your life so far, you can see that you have lived this arc several times already.
Here are the 12 Stages of the Hero’s Journey from an article by Dan Bronzite
The exercise? Write your story using this template
I encourage you to do this by referring to yourself only in the third person. You can give yourself a pet name, or mythological title. You can embrace the play of this exercise and make yourself a young knight, or princess in a kingdom. You can cast your struggles in the realm of archetype. There can be a wicked sorcerer (your boss) and a kind old magician (your best friend who mentors you)
Stepping out of the story and retelling it in this way is a powerful tool. You have a chance to see your story from the outside which gives distance and perspective. You can be reminded that this is a chapter, not eternity. You may begin to see the new traits, strengths and ways of being that you are learning. The arrows of hate may be zinging towards you, but perhaps you have the magic shield of patience and love that sustains you. The larger and more dramatic the size and scope of your story, the clearer the themes will be. The more clarity you will have about what you are learning. And perhaps even the some peace will come as you recognize that like Alice In Wonderland, sometimes you have a bit longer to wait before you come back out of the rabbit hole into the world you left behind.