“If you 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. Wherever you are—if you are following your bliss, you are enjoying that refreshment, that life within you, all the time.” - Joseph Campbell
We can be talked out of our bliss by a lot of people. “You’ll never make any money writing.” “The odds of succeeding as an artist are next to nill.” “We can’t afford college.” “Being a basketball player is such a long shot.” “Starting a business is really risky.” “Make sure you are safe.” “Get a real job.” “There’s no money in teaching.”
Joseph Campbell was a professor and prolific author most known for his work in comparative mythology. Campbell travelled the world and studied the commonalities in cultural storytelling. He found that myths across the world have the same basic themes that he coined, “The Hero’s Journey” (see the You Are a Hero post). This work was also what George Lucas loosely based his Star Wars saga after. One of Campbell’s most famous ideas was that if you want to find your fulfillment in life, “Follow your bliss.” He says that the things in life that bring us bliss are also polestars to our authentic life.
Can anyone deny the wisdom of this? How many people who truly live a fulfilling life don't follow their bliss or passion? For example: Obama’s love of politics, a doctor or nurse’s love of medicine, Bill Gate’s love of computers, Ansel Adam’s love of nature and photography, Einstein’s love of science, Frank Lloyd Wright’s love of architecture, Joseph Campbell’s love of myth and teaching, a gardener’s love of horticulture, Albert Cullum’s love of teaching. Elon Musk’s love of technology in building PayPal, Tesla, and Space X.
The simplicity of following your bliss brings our thinking from the head to the heart, from fear to love. We are also invited into a deep level of trust, courage, commitment, and work ethic. We agree to confront all the fear based messages of society that work to keep us pinned down, struggling for money, or fearful of losing it.
I have treated many people suffering from depression and anxiety issues that are largely a result of spending their lives doing things they hated. They bought the premise that they are trapped, less than, should settle, or otherwise give up on what would actually bring them a sense of joy, purpose, and bliss in life.
One retired man I spoke to said, “I take all these fancy vacations, but the thing that really fulfills me is my work at the animal shelter.” What is it that will give you flow or bliss in your life? Is there something nagging at you— a project, book, instrument, business, or passion that is lying in wait for you? Can you take a step towards it? It is yours— always has been, always will be.
Below Joseph Campbell talks to Bill Moyers on “following your bliss.” Take a listen: