How to Follow Your Bliss

How to Follow Your Bliss: Inspirational Image

American author, editor, and teacher, Joseph Campbell, had a famous formula for his students: “Follow your bliss. Find where it is, and don’t be afraid to follow it.”

I envy those who knew what they were called to do at an early age — those who learned early to follow their bliss. People like Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey, Les Brown, and those kids who knew exactly who they wanted to be back when they were 8-years-old passing a tether ball back at you.

Who knows, maybe back then I knew too, but something along the way derailed my journey and I traveled a different path.

I chose to look for security.

Maybe this happened because my father became sick with cancer when I was a teenager and he died just as I graduated from high school. Maybe security suddenly looked like bliss to me, but as I aged and matured I began to realize that the only real security you have is today — right here, right now.

Life is too short to always be playing it safe.

The idea of following your bliss was re-introduced to me when my son, then an 8th grader, told me that he wanted to take up football in high school. Because of my own search for answers about living “life on purpose,” I did not want to confuse my son on his journey, so I reluctantly said yes.

I figured he’d try it on, get information and move on to something more mom-loving . . . like golf.

He had tried baseball, soccer, and basketball in the past.

Brian followng his bliss

But the football experience turned out to be the most amazing journey to watch. He has instinctively followed his bliss — wouldn’t you know that bliss would be football. He has now decided that he loves rugby too.

GULP.

My first mother-instinct is to protect him, but you can’t keep your kids from living life. He has the right to find his own way. He has the right to follow his bliss.

And if I really sit for a while and think deeply about his love of football and rugby, I can see that he has always enjoyed tackling his friends. I can’t tell you how many times I have told a household full of boys, “No wrestling, pushing and shoving in here! You have to go outside to do that!” They’d all race outside, laughing the whole way while pushing each other out the front door.

The physical theme has always been there, along with his love of building things and video games.

I’ve had a front row seat to watching someone “follow their bliss” from a young age.  It’s changed my son into this amazing person.  I can see how following your bliss makes you strong and confident.  He oozes happiness on a daily basis. He’s clear about what he wants to do with his life.

I once thought that if you were happy at a job that paid well then you had the secret to living a full and happy life.

Safety first; fun last.  A job was a means to an end.

But after all the corporate mergers, the down-sizing, the out-sourcing, and the great recession, I’ve changed the way I look at security and living life.  I simply had to find out how one “follows their bliss.” It’s the reason behind the start of 8 Women Dream.

I wanted to understand the secret to living life on purpose, to following your bliss, and to go for your big dreams — even if it meant I had to leave security in the dust. I had to change my path and I wanted to share that journey with the world.

Joseph Campbell said, “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.”

This year I’ve been studying the business side of top website dreams and sharing that process with you. The reading has taught me a great deal about following your bliss and how it relates to money and dream success. I’ve learned how much I love running this publication and how much I love creating successful blogs. A side benefit is that writing from the soul heals the heart.

I can see bliss appear when I am doing something that I love.  I can also feel the angst when I don’t.  I can say that it’s been one hell of an adventure.  It’s called, The Hero’s Journey, or at least Joseph Campbell thinks so.  And if you think about the hero’s journey … you will be tested along the way … but you won’t be able to stop because you are following your bliss.

Joseph Campbell has some tips on how to start following your bliss.

How to follow your bliss:

(Thanks to Joseph Campbell)

♦ “Sit in a room and read–and read and read. And read the right books by the right people. Your mind is brought onto that level, and you have a nice, mild, slow-burning rapture all the time.”

♦ “Keep your mind on those moments when you feel most happy, when you are really happy — blissful — not excited, not just thrilled, but deeply happy. This requires a little bit of self-analysis. What is it that makes you happy? Stay with it, no matter what people tell you. This is what is called following your bliss.”

♦ “You must have a room, or a certain hour or so a day, where you don’t know what was in the newspapers that morning, you don’t know who your friends are, you don’t know what you owe anybody, you don’t know what anybody owes to you. This is a place where you can simply experience and bring forth what you are and what you might be, This is the place of creative incubation. At first you may find that nothing happens there. But if you have a sacred place and use it every single day, something eventually will happen.”

♦ “Following your bliss is not self-indulgent, but vital; your whole physical system knows that this is the way to be alive in this world and the way to give to the world the very best that you have to offer. There IS a track just waiting for each of us and once on it, doors will open that were not open before and would not open for anyone else.”

This week I encourage you to spend one hour every day doing something you love, whether that is listening to classical music, dancing, painting, writing, cooking, gardening, reading, meditating — whatever it is — but you must do it for an hour without interruption (with the television turned off).

By the end of the week your life will feel very different from what it is today.  You will have started your very own dreamer’s journey …

Simply remember to follow your bliss.

Catherine



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Catherine Hughes, Be an Online Success

Director of the 8 Women Dream Project at 8 Women Dream
Catherine’s dream is to make 8 Women Dream the premier online publication for women looking to pursue their dreams. She is a published author, a freelance writer, and a guide for those who want their dreams to come true online. Catherine would someday like to be invited to speak at TED about her observations about her 8WD project inviting women to take a chance on their dreams. Wine was required... Catherine posts on Sunday evenings and fills in dream stories as needed.
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Latest posts by Catherine Hughes, Be an Online Success (see all)

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  • Alexis McGhee

    My BF and former coworker would complain there isn’t enough
    time in the day. And I would argue with her. It really made me mad. I believe
    we have enough hours in the day; it’s how we choose to spend them.  And
    now I realized I wasn’t mad at her or the saying, I was angry with myself
    because I knew I wasn’t spending my time the way even I knew I was supposed to.
    I, like her, sacrificed safety for happiness. I am currently job seeking, but
    more importantly I am creating my own happiness. She thinks I am crazy, but she
    had noticed the difference in me.

    • Alexis, congratulations on recognizing how we all like to play it safe — except that playing it safe can make us so unhappy. It’s interesting to me how much we can deny our right to happiness and shut down the things that bring us joy. Good luck on that job search — I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you!

      Catherine

  • kellyswanson1

    What an AWESOME post.  I think so many people are afraid to come out of their comfort zone – and that’s where bliss is. It’s when we step out in faith. It’s where our dream becomes bigger than our fear. Does the fear stay? You bet. The dream is just bigger.  Another way to find your bliss: Ask yourself when was the last time you felt really alive? Not just living – but really alive. For me, one of the times I felt the most alive was working at camps to reunite children with their incarcerated parents. It’s a day of forgiveness and healing. It’s a time when I feel really alive. So why haven’t I done one in a while? Busy I guess. Better put that back on my to do list. Feeding our soul is just as important. Thank you Catherine for helping people follow their bliss.

    • Why thank you Miss Kelly. You are so right that bliss resides just outside our comfort zone. I was happiest when I was performing on stage as a ballerina – not just the love of dance, but the actual performing… now that’s a dream story for another day…:-)

      Catherine

  • Mikemorse34

    I love this so much! I’m in the process of finding my bliss and along the way I have found myself doing many of the suggestions given. I found out the hard way you can say. Years of self-inflicted abuse, working crazy hours, cursing the coffee for not being strong enough.
    What I finally realize now is that I wanted to be Mr. Macho. I could be the strong one through a divorce, addiction, severe illness, etc. and so on. When it came crashing down like a ton of bricks I had to humble myself. The biggest humble pie I had seen to date and eat it like a kid in an old fashioned country fair pie eating contest.
    I still have some left to eat, but when I do, it’s after an hour of watching the sky go from black to sunrise. Appreciating the quiet, the steam from your coffee, the fact that soon Bliss will form from the chaos and illnesses. When the pieces fall in place at some point, I’d like to think they are the little, humble, thankful things that I once looked past and now look towards.

    • Mike, thank you so much for your comment.  You know, what you have been through is what Joseph Campbell would say is the hero’s journey.  George Lucas used the hero’s journey to tell the story of the character, Luke Skywalker, and think about how that character evolved through loss and pain to make his dream come true.  Campbell loved what George Lucas did with the character.

      If you interview people who are successful, all of them have triumphed over some great tragedy.  They don’t often share it until someone thinks to ask.  You are on your way…

      Catherine

    • kellyswanson1

      Thanks for sharing Mike! I always talk about women not getting the fairy tale. Seems like men might have bought into the idea too – perhaps the idea of the superhero. You shined a light for me on the male perspective. Thank you. I am truly grateful. Knowing this will help me as a motivational speaker – to know what men might be going through. If you ever get a moment to repost (and give me more research material) I would love to know ten things you learned from this process of trying to be Mr. Macho to now.  Just if you have time and feel led.

  • ImanWoods

    Wow, Cath! I’m echoing Heather. I needed to read this too. I think my bliss might be changing and is terrifying not having the same anchors of goals to work towards. I need to open up and let my bliss evolve. I’ll be reading this over and over.

    • Thank you!  Sometimes it’s hard for us to remember to stop each day and participate in something completely joyful and for just ourselves.  This is especially difficult when you are a loving, giving mom.  We tend to think of caring for ourselves when we collapse on the couch after our kids have finally gone to bed, too exhausted to move.

  • Cath – How do you always read my mind and give me EXACTLY what I need to focus on? I spent the day fidgeting and trying not to be annoyed that I wasn’t doing what I really feel my bliss is. One hour, every day this week, is what I need to get back to my happy dream place. 

    Virtual hugs until I can get you one in person again soon!