Lessons From People: Joseph Campbell & Different Phases of Life 

Joseph Campbell was a world-renowned teacher and mythologist. He spent much of his life studying and dissecting myths from all over the world. It was his belief that myths can act as blueprints for our lives by acting as a navigational tool. In his book, Reflections on the Art of Living, Campbell gives his thoughts on various subjects, including the idea that as an individual, you need to adapt and change according to the new phase of life you are entering or exiting.

Lessons

Embrace The New You

The old skin has to be shed before the new one can come.

As we move through life, a different version of you is required. Give up old beliefs and values which served you well in the past, in order to build new ones more appropriate for the future you want. This includes habits, routines, traditions, and relationships. These often tether you to the old you, the one you are trying to change and improve. No permanent change comes without sacrifice, so you have to determine what is no longer valuable to you.

If we fix on the old, we get stuck. When we hang onto any form, we are in danger of putrefaction.

As Joseph Campbell says, by hanging onto an old form, you are in danger of decaying. You are forcing something old and irrelevant to still serve you instead of paying that form its proper respects and burying it.

So, as we transition from different phases of life, for example, from childhood to the workforce or from dependant living to independent living or from womanhood to motherhood, a different version of you is required in order to succeed fully in this new phase of life. Once you acknowledge this, then you can reflect on what needs to be purged, what parts of you need to be shed, and what new habits, ideas, routines, and so on need to be adopted.  

Destruction before creation.

Fully Commit

As you go the way of life, you will see a great chasm.

Jump.

It is not as wide as you think.

In order to embrace the life you want, there has to be a full commitment.

You can’t hold on to past desires and wants while you aim for new ones and try to make everything in your life work at the same time. Some old hopes and dreams need to be abandoned so you can fully commit to the openings that are available to you.

Often, we cling to the old ones because there is a glimmer of comfort there. You know if all else fails, you’ll have your comfort blanket waiting for you, but such commitment can cause your failure to begin with. So, it’s best to jump. To be active. To take chances because, through such actions, other doors open. Other avenues reveal themselves to you.

Through commitment, you make progress in your life. 

Suppose you have shed the serpent’s skin but want to leave some tagged on the end. This is a major problem. It is an anxiety that has to do with what’s back there. 

If you don’t fully commit, you also then leave the door open for guilt and shame. These feelings arise when you think about what else you could have done or wanted to do. Instead, acknowledge those wants belonging to a different version of you, one that no longer exists so you can move on to something more relevant.

Be A Great Servant

The first half of life we serve society—engagement. The second half of life we turn inward—disengagement.

Clearly understand what or who you are serving at the moment, so you can actively mold your life in order to be the best servant you can be.

Not every moment of your life is meant for your own service.

Your time is not yours alone. Whoever you allot that time to, make sure you are not cheating on them. This concept can be as simple as the time allotted to exercising where you are a servant to your physical body and attempt to do your best not to cheat on its needs or helping a friend move into a new apartment where your time is then given to your friend, to a more complicated allotment of time such as finding inner peace for yourself which may require countless hours of meditation and reflection and new experiences all of which you must do in order to serve yourself. 

Renouncing The Old You 

The recommended one is a gradual renunciation. That means getting quit of what you can in a decent, organic way. You can even take with you a few little responsibilities, with the understanding that they are terminal—you’re not going to add to them. The responsibilities that you add will be those of your own new condition, whatever that may be.

Transition to the new you may have to be gradual. Piece by piece. It is impossible really to wake up one day and decide to be a different version of you and achieve that by the time you go to sleep. Or wake up and have a completely different life.

But, once you narrow in on what you want your next few years to look like and what you want yourself to look like, then it becomes a matter of taking on the right responsibility. If you want to become someone who is more confident and can speak in public clearly, then taking on the responsibility and signing up for public speaking courses makes sense. As you take on responsibility suited for the new version of you, you balance that out with a slow and gradual transition away from the responsibilities that the old version needed, which, for the public speaking example, could be less time spent in solitude and more group activities where you are forced to interact publically.

Renunciation is literally a death and a resurrection.

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