Joseph Campbell’s famous advice was, “Follow your bliss.” Many great thinkers today seem to echo this idea by giving advice like, “Do what brings you joy,” or variants on that theme.
What they don’t stress, perhaps, is that following one’s bliss and experiencing joy are not all fun and games. Following one’s bliss can take any one of us to some scary places, some of them dangerous and exhausting. Joy, for many of us, is exactly what we will not allow ourselves to feel because we’re afraid of how easily it could evaporate. This kind of defensive thinking, the kind that won’t allow you to feel the joy or the bliss, is very familiar to us all.
Joy and bliss will come, but they will not show themselves as the cliche version of happy smiling faces all the time. Talk to anyone who has served the dying in a hospice. Many will tell you that this is the only job for them, even though each person they care for dies. There exists a bliss, a sense of purpose, a joy that is far deeper than mere success.
Cultivate deep bliss. Honor deep joy.