I remember reading the phrase “follow your bliss” at one time and it has stuck with me ever since. My Buddhist name is Bodhinando, which means the bliss of awakening, so I guess my teacher was trying to tell me something! I always had a tendency to be a bit serious and dedicated…….his choice of name pointed to freedom being a state of playful bliss rather than earnest endeavour!
I often think of the phrase “follow your bliss”, especially at New Year. As we make resolutions and start the year there can be a sense of earnestly trying to make good those sincere and dutiful resolutions. But where is the bliss? Where is there the sense of being drawn to an action that makes the heart quiver with joy rather than a dull sense of having to do the right thing? We may have very worthy goals: stop smoking, go to the gym, get fit and go to mindfulness classes! But if these are done with a sense of dull duty there is little to draw the heart to them with a quiver of excitement. Instead they hang heavy on us, in the same way as the childhood duty of writing letters of thanks to distant relatives after Christmas was a chore rather than a delight!
With each of your goals for 2016 consider what is the joy that is contained in them if you were to achieve the goal? Rather than the negating of an action – stopping smoking – what is there that you feel drawn towards, excited by, that gives a sense of vitality and aliveness? Feeling healthier, waking up feeling fresh and alert, feeling your body cleansing itself of toxins? Find your own sense of bliss in whatever it is you have resolved to do and follow that, rather than simply negate an action that you feel is bad for you.
For Campbell this idea of following your bliss was central to a happy life. What is it that gives you a sense of joy and excitement and how might you make that the hub of your life? For him it was the joy of exploring mythology and philosophy. For others it could be the pleasure of creating something with their hands – an artist, crafts man or builder, or the pleasure of following a dream. A friend of mine once said that those who are happiest in life tend to be doing work as an adult which they enjoyed as a child. He is a garden designer, and gardening was his passion as a boy. He followed his bliss and made it his career. For others it might not be work, but a hobby or volunteering role that connects them to their bliss. As you enter 2016 perhaps take a moment to consider what did you enjoy doing as a child? Have you become separated from following that spontaneous bliss that the child found easy to connect with and how might you bring back a connection to that now?
I’ve included a video of Campbell being interviewed below in which he says more about the idea of following your bliss. Below is a short extract from the interview:
that has been there all the while waiting for you
and the life you ought to be living is the one you are living.
When you can see that, you begin to meet people
who are in the field of your bliss, and they open the 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.
If you follow your bliss, doors will open for you that wouldn’t have opened for anyone else”
To see the video click here