How do you find your bliss? You just follow it, right? This seems like a good enough answer to a simple question.
But have you ever asked yourself this question? Did you feel confused? Unsure of where to start? No clue how to go about it?
Or worse, did you overthink it and start judging yourself?
“I’m too young, I’m too old, I’m too inexperienced, I’m too (fill in the blank) to follow my bliss.”
I know this all too well because I’ve been there. I used to overthink things like this, come up with worst-case scenarios, and give any excuse to avoid following my bliss.
Finding your bliss doesn’t have to be this hard. It can actually be enjoyable if you have the proper tools at your disposal.
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When I think about following my bliss, my thought immediately goes to this famous quote by Joseph Campbell:
“If you do follow your bliss you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. Follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be.”
He said it during an interview with Bill Moyers in a PBS documentary series entitled “The Power of Myth”. He spoke about his life’s work and how we embark on our own hero’s journey as we go through life.
Though I’ve never sat through the entire interview, I have watched clips of it and was able to glean the most essential bits from it.
Especially the part about following your bliss. I remember not fully understanding what he meant by this though. It might have been because I was younger and less experienced when I first saw it.
It wasn’t until I went through an existential crisis and health challenge that I began my own hero’s journey and truly understood what he was talking about.
Slaying your dragons.
I began to follow my bliss when I experienced an existential crisis that followed a 2-year long postpartum depression and daily anxiety.
Even before all of that, I felt like I didn’t know who I was anymore. I was working as a dental hygienist for 10 years at the time and it didn’t feel satisfying like it used to.
On top of that, I was often lost, scared, tired, overwhelmed, and operating on autopilot.
I had a sense that there was more to my life than the status quo, but I couldn’t bring myself to follow my bliss and trust my gut.
There were a lot of doubts and fears that stopped me from following that calling from deep within.
These doubts and fears are what Joseph Campbell called your dragons. These dragons are what stop the hero from saving the world. In my case, my dragons were inner dragons.
They came in the form of negative self-talk that stopped me from taking my own hero’s journey to true bliss. Even though I was aware of this, I still didn’t answer the call.
I created a fortress of false beliefs, self-doubt, self-judgment, and criticism.
Even though my inner guide was trying to get my attention, I still didn’t answer the call.
It wasn’t until I was given a potentially life-threatening diagnosis that I finally faced my dragons.
When I was given a health challenge, my world as I knew it crumbled. Everything that I thought was important to me like money, status, self-image, and even work, didn’t seem that important anymore.
After my treatments were done, a whole new world opened up to me. I realized that I could have followed my bliss all along. I could have created a life that was truly mine by taking my own hero’s journey.
All I had to do was follow my bliss and trust my gut. That was it, plain and simple. Except, my dragons were still there.
They came in the form of excuses like it’s too hard, I might fail, I won’t be good enough, I will run out of money if I follow my bliss, my family will be disappointed in me, etc.
By this time I knew better than to listen to them and instead listen to that little voice inside of me that said, “If I only knew what my life’s purpose was, everything would fall into place and my life would unfold in the best possible way.”
So began my journey of finding my bliss.
The journey to finding my bliss.
Knowing that I needed to find my bliss was one thing. Figuring out how to go about it was another.
My old world was destroyed but a new one that was full of possibilities lay ahead of me. Everything was completely new, different, and frightening.
I didn’t know where to start, so I began to document everything. If things didn’t work out, at least I could look back and enjoy reading about my journey to finding my bliss.
In his interview, Joseph Campbell spoke about what it means to follow your bliss. Here’s a snippet from the documentary:
“Now I came to this idea of bliss because in Sanskrit, which is the great spiritual language of the world, there are three terms that represent the brink, the jumping off place to the ocean of transcendence. Sat, Chit, Ananda. The word Sat means being. Chit means consciousness. Ananda means bliss or rapture. I thought, ‘I don’t know whether my consciousness is proper consciousness or not; I don’t know whether what I know of my being is proper being or not; but I do know where my rapture is. So let me hang onto rapture and that will bring me both my consciousness and my being.’ I think it worked.
I felt the same way when I knew I had to figure out what my purpose in life was. If I knew what it was, everything would fall into place and doors would open up so I could continue my journey to find my way through the world.
In my quest to find bliss in my own life, I found my truth, which led me to discover my passions and purpose in life. What I also discovered was that I wasn’t blissful all the time and that was okay.
Life wasn’t like the fairytales I read where the young maiden is saved by the hero and lives happily, or rather blissfully, ever after.
I found out that I still had to slay dragons in my daily life and that my passions and purpose could change. I had to accept this fact of life and take the highs with the lows; the good with the bad.
What helped me get through this surprising revelation were tools that I learned to use along my journey to live a more blissful life.
One tool that Joseph Campbell spoke about was finding your Sacred Place.
According to Joseph Campbell, your “sacred place” is the place where you are able to be your most creative. He said:
“This is a term I like to use now as an absolute necessity for anybody today. You must have a room, or a certain hour a day or so, where you do not know what was in the newspapers that morning, you don’t know who your friends are, you don’t know what you owe to anybody, you don’t know what anybody owes to you, but 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. And first you may find that nothing’s happening there, but if you have a sacred place and use it, and take advantage of it, something will happen.
Your sacred space -or as I like to call it your golden hour – is going to be unique to you.
For me it’s my early morning routine, the time I spend in the shower, writing, reading, learning new things, playing on my piano, creating watercolor art, and going for my morning walk.
It’s the time when I feel most like myself and ideas come to me freely.
It looks different for the people in my life, like my husband working in the garden, my oldest son swinging his baseball bat, my middle son playing his Oculus, and my youngest son drawing & doodling with markers.
Your sacred place or golden hour is the time you can be your most blissful. This is where your creativity is allowed to roam free & flourish.
But what if you simply can’t find the time or space? Here are other tools that have helped me find my bliss and practice following it every day.
How to find your bliss.
Having a sacred place or golden hour is great, but I found out that there’s more than one way to find your bliss. These tools may be helpful to you if you want to follow your bliss but you don’t have the time or place to do so.
Trust your gut.
One of the ways to help you find your bliss is to trust your gut. I know this is a hard one because it’s scary to trust in something that you can’t control.
But sometimes your gut is the only gauge you have when you don’t know where else to turn. When your fear and doubt try to stop you, your intuition may actually save you.
Of course, there’s never a 100% guarantee when it comes to trusting your gut. And there’s always going to be a risk.
But unless you take the next step, you will simply be stuck in the same place. The next time you get scared, remember it’s okay to be afraid, but go ahead and do it anyway.
Setting aside time to do nothing to creates a space for re-energizing & rejuvenating. This allows ideas and creativity to flow with ease so you’re better able to find your bliss and decide on which path you want to take in your life.
Be like water.
As Bruce Lee said, be like water.
Bruce Lee was a martial arts expert and learned that being flexible with his moves & fighting stances gave him the upper hand during matches.
He was able to change his game and outmaneuver his opponent when he wasn’t rigid with his fighting styles and often mixed them with one another and with other non-martial arts moves.
You can apply this concept to find your bliss and allow your thoughts to flow into and out of your consciousness without judging them.
When you do, you allow the creative process to come to fruition. Ideas flow through like water and you can pick and choose which one to follow.
Buddhist zen master Thich Nhat Hanh helped bring the practice of mindfulness to the west. He called it engaged mindfulness, where you practice being in the present moment.
Mindfulness is not just being able to sit quietly for hours; it can also be done while you’re engaged in your daily activities like washing dishes, eating, driving, or watering your plants.
It increases your awareness of the present moment and helps you pay attention to what it is that makes you feel blissful.
Be more aware.
Awareness is simply being present in the moment. When you can catch yourself in it, it allows you to notice things that may otherwise slip under the radar.
Awareness opens the way to acceptance of the here and now. The more you practice, the better able you are to notice things that make you feel blissful.
The more you practice awareness, the more connected you will become to yourself, the more compassionate you will become with yourself & others, and the easier it will be to find your bliss.
- Values & passions.
- Current and desired goals and habits.
- Present and future social life.
- Reflection on a possible future career.
- Write specific goals and plans.
- Make a public commitment.
Then you use this information to help you discover what it is that will make your life blissful, meaningful, and authentic.
Following your bliss can seem like an intimidating task if you don’t know where to start. The road is unclear and that can bring on fear and doubt.
But the risk you take to find your bliss is worth it because the reward can mean living a fulfilling life that’s in alignment with your higher self, your values, and your beliefs.
Some of the ways to help you follow your bliss are being more aware, practicing mindfulness, and trusting your gut.
I hope you found these tips to live a more blissful life helpful. Do you have any tips of your own? Let me know in the comments!