"Follow your bliss ... 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. 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." -- Joseph Campbell
In the 70s, when I first heard the phrase "follow your bliss," popularized by mythologist Joseph Campbell, it immediately hooked my attention. In college, while studying the ancient wisdom teachings of the Upanishads, I heard the word "bliss" used frequently but never really stopped to consider what it meant in practical terms. My dictionary defines the word bliss as: "Extreme happiness, ecstasy and serene joy." As a marketing major at the time, I can tell you that this sort of bliss was not even on my radar.
Was Campbell saying that I could follow a career path that would make me extremely happy -- one that brings joy and a smile to my face -- and that doors would open effortlessly for me, providing me with the means to live well? But what would my parents think? I became a marketing major because my dad was my hero and made a great living as a VP in a major ad agency. It was then that I realized I was following my dad's path rather than my own. Why? Because, not only did I want to honor him (and make the kind of money he was making), I wanted to be him. The realization I had was that, in the process, I was really dishonoring myself. This was the first of what would become a series of re-defining moments in my life as I set out on the path that Campbell refers to as "the hero's journey."
This "reality check" became a re-defining moment because I knew in my heart that my bliss would never be found in studying economics and market trends, or selling someone else's ideas and products; as it would turn out, my bliss would be found on an entirely different path. I began to focus on where my passion was and one day, right there on campus, a new door opened for me. While sitting on the grass, playing guitar and singing with my friends, it became obvious where I would find my happiness -- it was right there in front of me: For three years I had been hanging out with people who were following their bliss... as music majors. In short, after going the distance for three years of college as a marketing major I changed my major to music and never looked back. I had found my bliss. As one door closed another door had opened, and in the process, I began to understand what Joseph Campbell meant by "bliss."
Did music turn out to be a lifelong career path? It did for about 10 of the happiest years of my life and then one day, while performing for a group at a spiritual conference, another door appeared before me and it had "Now follow your bliss through this door," written all over it. Through that affiliation, I stepped through a portal, which put me on a new pathway of self-discovery by studying the metaphysical teachings of Ernest Holmes and the science of mind. I followed that path, which ultimately became a fulfilling career of public speaking and teaching spirituality for the next quarter of a century. In 2008 my soul began to stir, telling me there was something more for me to do. It was then, as if by some mystical, serendipitous occurrence, another door appeared before me and flung itself wide open: One day, through a chance email exchange with someone at Tarcher/Penguin Publishing, I was casually invited to submit a book I had written a couple of years prior. That "someone" would soon become my friend and publisher.
That book was The Art of Being which led to the second book, The Art of Uncertainty, and there is a third book is in the birth canal right now... all because, 40 years ago, a mythologist named Joseph Campbell put a notion in my head that if I would only be willing to follow my bliss, the universe would open the doors that would take me to a life I never dreamed of and sustain me each step of the way, one step, one door at a time.
I share this story with you not because it is all that special, but because it illustrates the point that anyone who is willing to leave the well-trodden path that many before them have traveled and follow their bliss on the road less-traveled can do the same thing. Is it easy to follow your bliss? Of course not; that is why Campbell calls it "the hero's journey": You'll have a chance to encounter every dragon (fear) that lives within the darkest caverns of your mind that wants to keep your life small and safe... and I can attest to that. Your re-defining moment doesn't happen just one time in your life; it happens every time you make a decision to follow your bliss, again, and again, and again. There are new doors awaiting your arrival. The big question, as Joseph Campbell puts it, is "whether you are going to be able to say a hearty yes to your adventure." I say yes, how about you?
If following your bliss is an idea that resonates with you, here is an opportunity to begin your journey by viewing a new film, Finding Joe, available to enjoy in your home! Finding Joe, the acclaimed film by Patrick Takaya Solomon, beautifully illustrated by enactments of Joseph Campbell's universal mythology are rooted in deeply personal accounts from some of today's most well-known faces -- Deepak Chopra, Mick Fleetwood, Catherine Hardwicke, Gay Hendricks and many more. Finding Joe proves how Campbell's work remains relevant in today's world, and provides a clear map for living your fully-realized life. The film follows the stages of what Campbell called The Hero's Journey: challenges, fears, dragons, battles, and the return home as a changed person.
With stunning cinematography and an inspiring, accessible message, Finding Joe will inspire you to take the reins and embark on the heroic journey of following your bliss and realizing your most authentic life. To view the trailer for the movie and to get more information about this special offer by Spiritual Cinema Circle, click here.
For more by Dennis Merritt Jones, click here.
For more on happiness, click here.
Follow Dennis Merritt Jones on Twitter: www.twitter.com/DMerrittJones