I first heard the term “follow your bliss” in the mid-90’s when a girlfriend of mine was taking courses from a liberal arts program. Topic from one course was on books/media-something-something-something. Whatever it was, it sounded fascinating but alien to me. She explained the concept of the Hero’s Journey and Campell’s advise to “follow your bliss.”
I didn’t really understand what that meant. What bliss? When am I in bliss except for when sinking my teeth into a See’s Scotchmallow chocolate? Am I supposed to eat chocolate or perfectly ripe, sun-kissed peaches all day?
I know what it means now. The thing is, once you identify your bliss, you can hardly stand not to do it. It feels as natural as breathing and waaay more fun. Maybe better than Scotchmallows even.
Here’s the bliss formula (according to Susanna):
Bliss = Flow + Impact
I’ve talked about flow before. Flow is when you are so absorbed in an activity that you lose track of time and are not conscious of yourself. Time flies by and you’ve done some of your best work. People tend to be in flow when using their strengths (StrengthsFinders or character strengths) and/or doing something they love. Therefore, it’s important to notice when you’ve been in flow, what you were doing, and what strengths you were employing.
In other words, flow tends to lead to productivity and your best work. Sounds like a good employee, right?
You might be coasting along in flow at work a lot, but it may not be your passion. What takes it to the next level is impact. Imagine that you spend all day absorbed in your activity, but what you do doesn’t really impact people’s lives.
Now imagine that your work helps others in a way that is meaningful to you.
Do you think that would be your bliss?
Campbell describes this pursuit of bliss with the attendant impact as the Hero’s Journey. It’s a journey that we’re all meant to undertake. The journey is not easy, otherwise it would have little meaning or value to us. It’s man’s fate, and the theme that plays out repeatedly in movies, stories, tales, legends, and fables from across time and culture.
Know your bliss. Pursue it. Be the hero of your own journey.