I have increasingly overheard the phrase “Follow Your Bliss” – a term originally from “The Power Of Myth” series by Joseph Campbell – being used as a replacement to the term YOLO. I wouldn’t be surprised if there was to be a #FYB hashtag trending right now. It appears to have taken over as the “hedonistic catchphrase for the new-age spiritual hipster” (Hardcore stereotyping for fun here). With this leading us to irresponsibly pursue the most idealistic state of pleasure regardless of the consequences of actions that lead us there, e.g. Travelling down easy-street without a care in the world.
“Yet it is important to note that following one’s bliss, as Campbell saw it, isn’t merely a matter of doing whatever you like, and certainly not doing simply as you are told. It is a matter of identifying that pursuit which you are truly passionate about and attempting to give yourself absolutely to it. In so doing, you will find your fullest potential and serve your community to the greatest possible extent.” (Taken from The Joseph Campbell Foundation – www.jcf.org)
Bliss isn’t – ecstasy, happiness, escapism, selfishness, hedonism or indulgence in forms of money, activities, beliefs, people, food, alcohol, drugs, sex, good times, nor is it chilling out… man. The feeling derived from these types of experiences is fleeting, it’s great at the time but then you are always seeking “the next experience, the next big thing”. Bliss is not fleeting; it’s sustainable, deeply fulfilling, following your heart, being courageous, facing uncertainty and the pain that may ensue and yet understanding that you are responsible for giving your own life meaning and through following your bliss you are doing what makes you come alive.
We live in a time where much of our society is following the culturally conditioned path of the West – following their bliss in terms of material possessions and external gratification through career or title. Although at first glance these may seem like harmless goals, if you were to imagine every individual seeking these goals you may see how this could be influencing the current global crisis we are in the midst of.
So, how do we find our bliss? Firstly I think following our intuition will help, doing what feels “right” when a situation arises in our lives. However, “right” doesn’t necessarily mean good or pleasant. It’s something within guiding us and although it may feel uncomfortable we should find the courage to embrace it.
Asking ourselves questions such as: What am I passionate about? What do I love doing? What activities do I engage in where hours go by but it seems like minutes? What was it that made me different when I was younger? If I had all the money in the world, and all the time in the world, what would I do and how would that benefit the ecosystem that I am a part of? – These questions are important as they may give us an insight into something deep down we want to pursue and also allow us to fully dive in to make it happen.
Most importantly, what does it mean for you to be human and how can you express it! This will help us to understand different levels of the human condition and experience – further connecting us with others through tools such as stories, art, music, poetry, dance, singing, performance, and writing, to name a few – These tools are significant as they give us a creative outlet to express ourselves. Joseph Campbell saw that myths aren’t stories outside of ourselves, they are internal battles that we are all facing and we all want to become a hero in our lives. With this we can continue to become more aware that we are all one and I hope this will lead us to serve others and our planet with the respect they deserve, the respect you wish to give yourself. It is an absurd idea that the environment is an object that we can use and exploit without limits. This idea has led to the ecological crisis we face today causing a global epidemic which affects us all.
After writing this I came across the film “Finding Joe” this posed more questions and provoked more thought on the subject for me compelling me to add more to this article.. I highly recommend checking it out as I think it shows in another profound way what Joseph Campbell was trying to make us realise when he said “Follow Your Bliss” and if you don’t have the time I hope this article gives you an overview as to what he meant by this phrase.
Who was Joseph Campbell? “Joseph John Campbell (March 26, 1904 – October 30, 1987) was an American mythologist, writer and lecturer, best known for his work in comparative mythology and comparative religion. His work covers many aspects of the human experience. His philosophy is often summarized by his phrase: “Follow your bliss.” – Wikipedia
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