Often, people feel the need for someone else to come in and “save” them from their hardship. Instead, this musing explores re-framing this concept to make yourself the hero in your story and provides tips for saying a hearty YES to the challenge.
If you want to be spiritually bulletproof, you need to believe that you and your life matter in the grand scheme of things. If you don’t believe this, you are going to have a hard time dealing with adversity because all the heartbreaking hits that life hands you will feel like meaningless suffering.
Victor Frankly—a psychiatrist who lost all his family in the concentration camps in Nazi Germany—believed, “Those who have a ‘why’ to live can bear with almost any ‘how.’”
Spiritually resilient people have a strong sense of “why” they are living. They think of themselves as heroes on a kind of quest. All that happens to them, good and bad, is part of the myth they see themselves living.
Joseph Campbell believed, “Myths are public dreams, dreams are private myths” and spiritually resilient people see their lives as privately unfolding myths intertwined with the unfolding myths of everyone around them. They consciously create mythic constructs for their lives by reframing heartbreaking hits as twists or turns in the plots of their spiritual sagas.
It can feel weird at first to think of yourself as a hero on a quest and it can seem downright crazy to “say YES” to an experience or situation thrust upon you by a heartbreaking hit. However, if you want the benefits that come with spiritual resiliency, you are going to need to look at things a whole new way. Spiritually resilient people see that invitations to adventure often come disguised as heartbreaking hits. These invitations arrive unbidden and unwelcome, but spiritually resilient people open them up and will themselves to say YES even though they may be freaking out inside at first.
If you stop and think about it, most of the heroes we love in literature, movies, or real-life begin their adventures or set out on their quests after receiving an invitation in the form of a hit. They know that there really is only one story being told in every great book written, movie made, or life lived. We love the story of a hero who says YES to the adventure, endures all sorts of trials, and goes on to achieve something or become someone extraordinary. We keep creating and responding to art that tells this story because, deep down, we know that it is our story!
To validate this point, check out some or all of these movies: Braveheart, Gandhi, The Count of Monte Cristo, The Lord of the Rings, The Pursuit of Happiness, and Forrest Gump.
When spiritually resilient people say YES to the adventure put in front of them, it doesn’t mean that everything suddenly gets easy and goes smoothly. On the contrary, saying YES can actually seem to make things harder at first. When a hit calls them to an adventure and they say YES, they step upon what Joseph Campbell calls “the road of trials.”
Spiritually resilient people also know that there is a reliable, divine pattern at work in the universe. When they face an obstacle and surmount it, they are rewarded with new knowledge, personal power, or wisdom. Awareness of this pattern allows them to reframe the hits they take as not only the natural part of life but even as vehicles for spiritual growth.
Think about all the lessons you’ve learned in your life up to now. If you are like most people, you learned many of those important lessons the hard way—through problems and suffering that you had to endure and get past. Essentially you have been living a life of a hero on a grand adventure all along.
Looking back, you can probably identify many hits you took that, in the end, taught you what you needed to know or took you where you needed to go next. It’s actually pretty simple to see the meaning in your past. The trick is to see it in the present.
I can certainly relate to this in my story of spiritual growth. To thrive, you need these three attributes:
(a) Vitality – Besides a healthy diet and regular exercise, it also includes spiritual resiliency, not living in anger, resentment, hatred, or guilt by forgiving those that have harmed you and forgive yourself so you can be fully present and embark on your hero’s journey with your fullest potential;
(b) Purpose – Say YES to your hero’s journey knowing that the Universe never gives you a hit that you cannot surmount. Fully commit in faith that you can not only accomplish your hero’s journey but land on higher ground. A good friend reminds me: “Conceive—Believe—Achieve” and:
(c) a Growth Mindset – a lifelong learning philosophy, knowing that the harder the journey the grander the learning and a stronger personal resiliency.
As Joseph Campbell inspires, “The big question is whether you are going to be able to say a hearty YES to your adventure.” Just do it! – a new world awaits you!
Peace, gratitude, and many blessings,