Mythology reveals the existential aspect of the human mind and of human experience. And it does so primarily through novels, movies, fables, poetry, music, religious teachings, folklore, art, and legends.
Mythology is not fiction but rather stories that teach us who we are as human beings in all the varied ways one can live life on earth: loving mothers, devoted healers, selfish friends, genius technicians, poor leaders, inspiring teachers, struggling craftspeople, rival siblings, etc.
These stories reveal our commonalities with others and provide us a place in the world with an accompanying legacy. Whether over a lifetime or a one-time significant event or trauma, one recognizes that others have lived experiences like one’s own.
The comparative mythologist Joseph Campbell (1988) conceptualizes the primary component of mythology as the heroic journey: chosen or imposed life events move one out of the status quo of one’s life and into a journey of challenges and trials from which one returns better, and with something valuable for one’s community.
Life is a never-ending series of these heroic journeys: pregnancy, new job, death of a loved one, moving away from home, marriage, earning a degree, surgery, etc. And one’s choices and actions exhibited in them reveal the inherent values and principles one lives by, clarifying what is meaningful to a person.
Created by both personal individual experience and humanity’s collective experience, one’s personal mythology is the enactment of what one believes makes living life worthwhile, valuable, and fulfilling.
What is meaningful to a person is expressed in the manner one lives one’s life. This includes the clothes and jewelry one wears, the car one drives, the people with whom one spends time, the house in which one lives, the vacations one takes, the food one eats, etc.
If the aspects of one’s personal mythology fit together well, from the objects one owns to activities one engages in, to one’s friends and character, one will experience feeling whole and complete, self-actualized.
And by actively and authentically living one’s personal mythology one will remain resilient to life’s hardships and adversities, incorporating them into one’s life and character, remaining genuinely happy throughout your life.
It has been said one dies the way one has lived. And it is the well-lived personal mythology that provides one the means to approach dying with acceptance, giving one a good death, writing one’s story until the very end.