Dec 2011

Finding Joe


My cousin, Chris Evans, is a big Joseph Campbell fan, and even though I bought one of Campbell’s books, I had never made the time to delve into it. But, when I saw a message on a positive psychology listserv about a new movie about Joseph Campbell’s work titled,
Finding Joe, I knew that I had to buy it. Campbell’s phrase of “Follow your bliss” was one that I wanted to explore more. Last night Steve and I sat down and watched the 80-minute long Finding Joe and I loved it. The movie involves a lot of modern day philosophers, writers, and entertainers discussing the impact of Joseph Campbell’s work on their lives. One of Campbell’s concepts that discussed in the movie is “The Hero’s Journey” which has three parts: separation, initiation, and return. We all have the opportunity to become heroes by fighting the dragons and insecurities that we all feel as we face life’s challenges. Life truly is an adventure and Campbell says, “The big question is whether you are going to be able to say a hearty yes to your adventure.” One of our family traditions when we travel with our grandkids, Cody and Kaitlyn, is to always say, “The adventure continues.” And, just like each of our vacations is unique, each of our lives is unique. “If you can see your path laid out in front of you step by step, you know it's not your path. Your own path you make with every step you take. That's why it's your path.” We each have to make our own path, slay our own inner demons, and tell our stories to help others learn from our mistakes as well as our triumphs.

In closing, I want to end with a few other Joseph Campbell quotes that resonated with me. Best wishes on your own hero’s journey. May the force be with you !!

The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are. Joseph Campbell

“If you do follow your bliss you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. Follow your bliss and don't be afraid, and doors will open where you didn't know they were going to be.”
Joseph Campbell

“The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.”
Joseph Campbell

“A bit of advice Given to a young Native American At the time of his initiation: As you go the way of life, You will see a great chasm. Jump. It is not as wide as you think.”
Joseph Campbell

“We save the world by being alive ourselves.”
Joseph Campbell

“I always feel uncomfortable when people speak about ordinary mortals because I've never met an ordinary man, woman or child.”
Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth




One of the most exciting findings to emerge out of the positive psychology literature is the positive impact that adopting “an attitude of gratitude” can have on us. Given that we recently celebrated Thanksgiving, the holiday season is the perfect time to start intentionally cultivating gratitude in our lives. Some of my Facebook friends post “Thankful Thursday” (thumbs up to my NRC friends) updates that highlight at least one thing that they are thankful for and while other Facebook friends posted daily thankfulness updates throughout the month of November. Both ideas are terrific and worth replicating. There are a number of ways to cultivate gratitude in your life!

One way that I have been cultivating gratitude in my own life is by watching daily a youtube
video on gratefulness that my sister-in-law, Judy Bloom, linked to on her Facebook page on Thanksgiving Day. The video starts out with a young girl talking about the shallowness of watching TV instead of using the mighty power of our imaginations. Then, a poignant narrator takes over and his first line is, “You think that this is just another day in your life. It is not just another day. It is the one day that is given to you…It is given to you, it is a gift, and it is the only gift you have right now and the only appropriate response is gratefulness.” Indeed, the only appropriate response is gratefulness. It can be so easy to take our lives for granted and watching a video like this reminds us how important it is to give thanks for all the blessings in our lives, including our eyesight, the weather, and electricity. As the video says, “If you learn to respond as if it were the first day in your life and the very last day, then you will have spent this day very well.” We all need to spend today and every day well.

There are multiple other ways to cultivate an “attitude of gratitude.” For example, my friend, Erin, keeps a gratitude journal. She writes down five things every day that she is grateful for in her life. Some day the list is closer to ten or fifteen things, but she always writes at least five things. One of her favorite things to do is flip back through the journal and reread what she was grateful for last week, last month, or last year. Sometimes the old entries are funny or poignant, but in either case it helps her intentionally maintain a mindset of gratefulness.

Another example is my former student, Kathleen, who sends positive notes to remind her friends she is grateful for them. She writes quick notes jotted on note cards highlighting something about the person that makes her grateful to have him or her as a friend. While the process contributes to Kathleen’s mindset of gratefulness, it also serves as a bright spot in the day of the recipient. A win-win!

Here are three links with more ideas about how to cultivate gratitude in your life:

What do you do to foster an “attitude of gratitude”?