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Personal growth: Difficulties in “doing what you love” July 11, 2017

Posted by Dennis Mellersh in Concept of personal growth.
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Taking Joseph Campbell’s advice to “Follow our bliss” is tempting. It is appealing to imagine ourselves in a situation where we are always “in the zone” and a state of rapture with our major personal choices, particularly in our careers.

But in our efforts to reach our personal development potential, It can be frustrating and ultimately counter-productive to make our happiness contingent on a simplistic and restrictive interpretation of “doing what we love.”

In a somewhat fuzzy and imprecise explanation of what he meant by following your bliss, Campbell told Bill Moyers, “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” (1)

Or as interpreted by many, “Do what you love, the rest will follow.”

But pure rapture or bliss derived from any endeavour is impossible to sustain indefinitely. It’s like burning the candle at both ends – more light, but it burns out quickly.

No matter how much we might love doing something, if we do it in any depth, with thoroughness and with consistency, it will have elements that we don’t love.

It’s nice to imagine a life of vocational bliss, but it’s probably more realistic to think in terms of doing what is satisfying to us.

(1) Cited in Wikipedia article on Joseph Campbell – Joseph Campbell and the Power of Myth with Bill Moyers, edited by Betty Sue Flowers. Doubleday and Co., 1988.

— Dennis Mellersh



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