What Does It Mean to 'Follow Your Bliss?'

Joseph Campbell

Joseph Campbell, who specialized in applying lessons from mythology to modern human experiences, was the first to use the phrase “follow your bliss.” He saw it as an essential part of the formula for living life to the fullest. Although almost everybody has heard the phrase "Follow your bliss," many people — especially business people — aren't sure exactly what it means.

Campbell meant something very specific by the phrase. It comes from one of the last interviews he did, in which he said:

"If you 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. Wherever you are — if you are following your bliss, you are enjoying that refreshment, that life within you, all the time."

In other words, if you do things you are passionate about, you'll feel fully alive and doors will open up for you.

For entrepreneurs, following your bliss means doing several things as part of running a business.

Build Your Business Around Your Bliss

Some business owners focus on the money they want to make, but that's not the best way to run a business. Instead, start by thinking about your business' mission.

Every business exists because it helps people in some way. In business economics, we study which products and services people buy to make their lives better, easier, or more worthwhile. If you focus on your values — the things you passionately care about — and especially the ways you want to make life better for your customers, your entire business plan will fall into place. You'll see how everything you do connects to that central mission. Coming up with ideas to get your message out to people and communicating your excitement and passion for what you do whenever you meet people is key to entrepreneurship.

Keep Asking How You Can Better Help Customers

When you're in business for the sake of being in business, you can lose sight of your customers. But when you follow your bliss, your focus is entirely on those customers because you act out of a passionate desire to change things for them.

If your business is stagnant or you're having trouble getting off the ground, think about the people you want to help. Ask yourself what you would most need if you were in their shoes. Then find a way to use your business to give it to them. Keep asking yourself this question over and over, even after you've begun to see some success, so that you keep improving your products or services.

[Tweet "Think about the people you want to help. Ask: what do they need most?"]

Partner with Other Organizations Who Share Your Passion

It's impossible to succeed alone. If you follow your bliss, you will quickly find other people and organizations that share your particular passion. Whenever you can, work with them. If you can partner with a nonprofit organization that does the same kind of work you do, it will really help you and your business. You'll feel like you're making a real difference, and prospects will love your business because it's contributing to a positive cause they believe in.

Following your bliss means a lot more than just doing what makes you happy. It involves building your business around a core of passionate caring and continually taking action to bring your dreams for yourself and your customers into reality. And it won't feel like work because you're serving a higher purpose.

Top photo, left to right: Jean Erdman, Joseph Campbell, and Joan Halifax
"Joseph Campbell & Joan Halifax" Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Written by Ashford University staff

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