In mythology, the end result of the hero’s journey is discovering new wisdom to bring back to society, so that everyone benefits from the hero’s experience.
Obtaining new wisdom to help the community grow and improve requires stepping out of the known comforts of home and into the wide and wild world.
One of my favorite metaphors for this is the journey of Bilbo Baggins, who did what no other hobbit wanted to do: he went on an adventure. And eventually, he came back rich and became very famous. Bilbo showed the other hobbits what was possible when you take a chance and step out onto the road.
However, there’s no point stepping out of your safe little hobbit hole if you’re not willing to keep an open mind. If you don’t allow the journey to change you for the better, you’re just wasting time. (TWEET THIS!)
Learning Among the Masses
Many people fear going out among their fellow humans. This fear can stem from numerous sources, such as the 24-hour (mostly negative) news cycle that demonizes other people.
Whatever the source of this fear, it can cause us to avoid human contact. This avoidance is a major contributor to the increasing alienation and mistrust in modern society. We’re forgetting that cooperation is what makes our cultures grow and prosper.
However, if you cultivate a hero mindset, you can see yourself as a sort of an “ambassador” or “missionary” of goodwill. If you approach people with an open mind, and don’t automatically expect them to wish you harm, there is a high probability for a positive exchange of thoughts and emotions.
Because, in case you forgot, people are great sources of new ideas.
Make no mistake, I’m not telling you to go out and be gullible, accepting every new idea you hear. Rather, go out with a “cautiously open” mind.
To paraphrase the philosopher-comedian Chris Rock, let new concepts swirl around your head, take time to consider, and then form an opinion. (You can listen to Mr. Rock’s thoughts in this expletive-laden clip from his HBO show “Never Scared.” You’ve been properly warned…)
Don’t dismiss new ideas blindly, and don’t blindly accept them. You’re smart enough, wise enough, and intuitive enough to realize if an idea is not beneficial to you and the world at large.
We can work to reverse the dangerous trend of mistrust that is eroding our ability to cooperate. But it takes commitment to believe that other people are worthy of your respect and attention.
Yes, people can be extremely selfish. But recent studies have shown our first impulse is to cooperate. We just might be able to put to rest the age-old argument about whether humans are inherently “good” or “evil.”
Don’t Let Bad Ideas Monopolize Reality
Humanity is a tremendous engine of idea creation. But of course, many of those ideas are not beneficial to all. Many, indeed, are only beneficial to a few. That’s why it’s so important to not let those with potentially harmful agendas control the societal narrative.
Think of the world as a story we’re all telling together. If someone bullies others and takes over the story, one person gets to shape the tale any way they want.
We’re all in this world together, so we should share equally in the overarching human story. But some people seem to want to monopolize reality by pushing for their own version of “truth.”
Throughout history, this has invariably led us down dangerous paths.
Don’t tune out the world, because the inaction of open-minded people allows potentially harmful ideas to spread freely.
How do we define a harmful idea? Any idea that ignores, endangers, or demonizes an individual or a group of people.
We only have to look at the rhetoric of political campaigns to see how social cohesion is sacrificed in the hunt for votes. Mass media has given them a planet-sized megaphone to blast their version of reality
Take some advice from the oft-quoted Sun Tzu: know your enemy. Don’t close your ears to story-hogging demagogues. Listen carefully for language that divides humanity, and fight against it with your words and deeds as you battle to keep people together.
Please Pardon the Mess
Yes, the world can be a messy place. That’s the way it’s supposed to be. It’s a beautiful chaotic jumble of all that is good and evil about our species.
Don’t expect the world to stop spinning for you. YOU must learn to stand at the center and remain the calm eye of the storm.
As an everyday hero, it’s up to YOU to set the example of openness.