We then examined these stories for the seven elements of the hero’s journey. We found that people who had more hero’s journey elements in their life stories reported more meaning in life, more flourishing and less depression. These “heroic” people (men and women were equally likely to see their life as a hero’s journey) reported a clearer sense of themselves than other participants did and more new adventures, strong goals, good friends, and so on.
We also found that hero’s journey narratives provided more benefits than other ones, including a basic “redemptive” narrative, where a person’s life story goes from defeat to triumph. Of course, redemption is often a part of the “transformation” part of the hero’s journey, but compared with people whose life story contained only the redemptive narrative, those with a full hero’s journey reported more meaning in life.
We then wondered whether altering one’s life story to be more “heroic” would increase feelings of meaning in life. We developed a “restorying” intervention in which we prompted people to retell their story as a hero’s journey. Participants first identified each of the seven elements in their life, and then we encouraged them to weave these pieces together into a coherent narrative.
In six studies with more than 1,700 participants, we confirmed that this restorying intervention worked: it helped people see their life as a hero’s journey, which in turn made that life feel more meaningful. Intervention recipients also reported higher well-being and became more resilient in the face of personal challenges; these participants saw obstacles more positively and dealt with them more creatively.Ben Rogers, To Lead a Meaningful Life, Become Your Own Hero
We see this especially in the midst or aftermath of transitional and transformational life events, when greater-than-usual shifts occur. As the result of going through such experiences, we often develop new values, core needs and centrally motivating desires, losing other values, needs and desires in the process. In other words, after undergoing a particularly transformative experience, we become different people in key respects than we were before. If after such a personal transformation, our friends are unable to meet our newly developed core needs or recognise and affirm our new values and central desires – perhaps in large part because they cannot, because they do not (yet) recognise or understand who we have become – we will suffer loneliness.
This is what happened to me after Italy. By the time I got back, I had developed new core needs – as one example, the need for a certain level and kind of intellectual engagement – which were unmet when I returned home. What’s more, I did not think it particularly fair to expect my friends to meet these needs. After all, they did not possess the conceptual frameworks for discussing Russian absurdism or 13th-century Italian love sonnets; these just weren’t things they had spent time thinking about. And I didn’t blame them; expecting them to develop or care about developing such a conceptual framework seemed to me ridiculous. Even so, without a shared framework, I felt unable to meet my need for intellectual engagement and communicate to my friends the fullness of my inner life, which was overtaken by quite specific aesthetic values, values that shaped how I saw the world. As a result, I felt lonely.Kaitlyn Creasy, Loved, Yet Lonely
Such an understanding will also make it clear that finding a guide for your journey isn’t a question of finding a special person. It is a question of becoming a special person: a traveller, a pilgrim, a person on a journey. When you have done that, the whole world turns out to be full of guides.William Bridges, JobShift: How To Prosper In A Workplace Without Jobs
Leaders who acknowledge mistakes, take personal responsibility and act swiftly to make corrections are generally regarded as heroic. Their willingness to open the door to new information – however uncomfortable that may be – gains credibility for themselves and their organizations.
Yet to become open and accessible, to overcome defensiveness in the moment when bad things are happening, is no small task. It takes a certain level of self-knowledge, empathy, and strength of character.Dan Oestreich, Following SELF
The Tao Te Ching is written on many levels. There is a level waiting just below the one you currently understand. The deeper you penetrate, the more power you develop. The more potential you have for influence in the world, the stronger and more penetrating your insights become. The philosophy that Lao Tzu left behind is actually an experiment, one that individuals undertake when they are ready to enter the next phase of human evolution—that of fully conscious beings who are actively directing both their own destinies and the destiny of the world around them. In his ultimate vision, Lao Tzu believed that if each and every one of us could realize and gain control of our evolutionary power, it would invisibly unite us and allow us to become a collective, compassionate and fully aware social and universal organism.R.L. Wing (Rita Aero), The Tao of Power: Lao Tzu’s Classic Guide to Leadership, Influence, and Excellence