In revisiting what I had taken to be my life purpose recently, I rediscovered Joseph Campbell. I first came across Campbell as a young man in my 20s, when I was enraptured by The Power of Myth TV series he filmed with Bill Moyers. It was as much the presence of the man – his intelligent, compassionate twinkling – as the resonant content of his interviews that engaged and inspired me.
One of Campbell’s core philosophies is Follow your Bliss. He is basically saying that when we do what we love, Life opens up for us. He says, “If you do follow your bliss you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while... When you can see that, you begin to meet people who are in your field of bliss, and they open doors to you. I say, follow your bliss and don't be afraid, and doors will open where you didn't know they were going to be.”
Following your bliss isn’t simply a matter of hedonism – of doing whatever you like. It is about identifying the pursuit you are truly passionate about and giving yourself to it absolutely. In so doing, you will find your fullest potential and serve your community to the greatest possible extent.
What I think is overlooked is how incredibly demanding and deeply confronting it is for us to follow our bliss. Campbell might as easily have said to follow our blisters. For we still have to apply ourselves, take risks, make choices and sometimes sacrifices, face betrayals and abandonments, stand in the fire and face our doubts and apparent inadequacies as we square up to doing what brings us and keeps us alive.
What is your bliss, anyway? I also think that the maxim belies how hard it can be for many of us to discover our bliss; to recognize it; experience it and live it… let alone follow it!
What is your experience of following your bliss? How has doing this transformed you and your life?