Last updated on February 19th, 2013 at 12:51 am
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.
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.
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 Hughes is the editor and founder of 8WomenDream. She’s also a magazine columnist, content creator, blogger, published author, and former award-winning mom blogger. Catherine collaborates with companies to craft engaging web content and social media narratives. Her work, highlighting stories of the resilience and success of Northern California residents, appears in several print magazines. Outside of work, she treasures motherhood, her close friendships, rugby, and animals.
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