You are probably familiar with the phrase "follow your bliss."
But what does "bliss" mean?
Is bliss a sunny day at the beach, good times, chilling out, or freedom from struggle?
Or is it something else?
Here are 5 common misunderstandings of what bliss is and, at the end, I'll share with you why, if you aren't already, you ought to be following your bliss.
1. Bliss Is Not...Joy
Whether it's a sunny day at the beach, the perfect date, the great party with close friends, or the simply sublime experience, this is not bliss.
These sorts of experiences are joy, rapture, or elation, not bliss.
You can't live in these elevated experiences. If you try, you'll soon find yourself thinking that whatever was joyful is normal.
Bliss, in contrast, is sustainable. You can be blissful every day.
2. Bliss Is Not...Doing Nothing
With your hectic and stressful life there are, I am sure, many days you wish you could just quit working and stop worrying. Wouldn't you like to get a break and just stop doing - anything.
If this idea has crossed your mind, then for a short time this is probably an excellent idea.
Take that vacation. Get away for a while.
But, as they say, don't quit your day job. If you think your bliss is in doing nothing, you'll soon enough discover that you are not satisfied with your newly limited lifestyle.
Let us follow Gandhi's sage advice:
Bliss is doing that which fulfills you. Action that touches you deeply and fully. Bliss is active.
When you are following your bliss the idea of not being active feels unsatisfying. After all, what is more enjoyable than doing what you love, than following your bliss?
3. Bliss Is Not...Doing Whatever You Want
Ah, to leave your responsibilities behind without a care in the world. That certainly does sound blissful, doesn't it?
But this is not bliss. This is irresponsibility. Would you really be satisfied with yourself if you simply ignored your responsibilities? If you're like me, you'd feel uncomfortable.
And what about your responsibilities to others, society, and the planet? These sorts of things are partly cultural but, mostly, they are genetic. You're hard-wired to care as much as you do. Exactly where you fall on the responsibility spectrum varies, however.
Bliss comes from following your heart. If you are true to yourself, you will know which responsibilities you can resolve and remove from your life, and which should stay.
On the other hand, if you are a sociopath, then your bliss is in doing whatever you want. I hope what ever your bliss is, it's good for the rest of us.
4. Bliss Is Not...Easy
Following your bliss is not following the easy path. You cannot simply set your intentions upon your bliss and relaxing while the universe manifests your bliss as you sit on your sofa.
If it were this this easy, we'd all be following our bliss. Despite the recent hype of "The Secret" and intention manifestation, there is a bit more to it. Setting your intentions is a great start but it's just a start.
Following your bliss requires action and courage. Remember, doing nothing (and sitting on your sofa wishing counts as nothing) is not bliss.
It takes tremendous courage to embark upon your personal journey. The path is unknown and fraught with fear and it takes strength of will to overcome that fear.
5. Bliss Is Not...Painless
When you follow your bliss you might think that suddenly life is like "Easy Street" and you can just enjoy the days without hardship or sorrow.
I wish this were the case but it simply isn't so.
Yes, life happens. It won't wait around for you while you are off following your bliss. You must persist through the challenges life throws at you.
These life-challenges are an essential part of what Joseph Campbell, who coined the term "Follow Your Bliss," means when he talks about "the hero's journey." That hero is you. The journey is that of you undertaking to follow your bliss.
Now you know 5 things that bliss is not but what is bliss, then? Bliss is...
Following your dreams, desires, or heart.
Bliss is that deep, fulfilling, sustainable, driving need you have. That thing that is the true "you."
Your bliss is your life's purpose. Your bliss gives your otherwise meaningless life meaning.
When you are following your bliss you are powerful and empowered. You are focused and the universe is waiting to help you, or so it seems.
What this means is that you will see the blissful opportunities that were right in front of you all along and make new opportunities simply by making the effort of asking.
Following your bliss can give you the strength to persevere through life's obstacles. Your bliss is your calling, your vision, and your mission.
Your bliss is your meaning of life.
Life on Bliss
For a real taste of what bliss looks like, and deeper understanding, I recommend you check out "Finding Joe", a new feature-length movie featuring Deepak Chopra, Mick Fleetwood, Rashida Jones, Tony Hawk, Catherine Hardwicke, Laird Hamilton, Robert Walter, Akiva Goldsman, Sir Ken Robinson, Robin Sharma, Lynne Kaufman, Alan Cohen, Brian Johnson, Joseph Marshall III, Rebecca Armstrong, Chungliang Al Huang, David L. Miller, Gay Hendricks, David Loy and Norman Ollestad.
These well-known, and less-well-known people share personal stories of their path to bliss and fulfillment. I can tell you, they certainly look happy. If you are looking for inspiration, look no further and watch the movie trailer:
Visit the Finding Joe website to rent or purchase the video.
I am following my bliss and I can tell you it is certainly not always an easy path. Sometimes I wonder if it is hell.
Most days, however, I wake earlier than I ever have in my life. And I feel good every day. Even the bad, fearful days are still better than a day of heartless, if safe, drudgery.
If you aren't on the path of your bliss, why not? What is holding you back?