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PERSONAL MYTHOLOGIES

November 12th, 2022

There are certainly those who erroneously think they are the main character - that the world revolves around them. Delusions of grandeur aside seeing one’s self and one’s life as part of a story arc can be very useful.

The structure of the hero’s story isn’t just something reserved for ancient epics and action movies. Such a structure is a blueprint for navigating parts of life with courage, ingenuity and the vulnerability required to change in order to become someone with more agency. That really is the master variable for happiness: agency.

Certainly many things are involved in living a fulfilling life, but most of them are proxies for agency. Money, for example is probably the most practical incarnation of agency - more money means more options, more abilities via the work of others who can be hired.  But notice how those who come into unexpected amounts of wealth usually find that it doesn’t make them happy, or they squander the wealth - having little idea how to use it in a way that honors the agency which money has the potential to enable. But other than just money, agency also increases bye means of adding an additional skillset or making a key friendship. Each is an expansion of one’s ability to have an effect on the world.

This is the key metric at the core of the Hero’s story - a difficult journey that increases a character’s agency to the level of a hero. The hero acquires this leveling-up not just for reasons of self-actualization, but also to make a gift to society now possible with new agency.

But unlike the usual story with a single arc, we are constantly living a woven patch work of mythologies as we grow and mature in different areas of our life. Imbalances abound and often its very clear when someone has put all their energy into one area of their life while ignoring potential in others: say for example, someone who has an amazing career but lackluster family relationships that stagnated years ago. 

We are living multiples stories on multiple dimensions that intersect, and if we are smart we can import the lessons from one story into another.This is really the essence of creativity - seeing connections and patterns across disparate realms that don’t obviously connect.

This is why we are a story-species. Such mythologies are the most flexible structures for superimposing lessons on our own lives - by imagining ourselves in the position of a hero whose story we’ve heard or seen or which as been passed down.


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