Following your bliss, taking a hero’s journey — inspired by Finding Joe

If you know nothing else about the late mythologist Joseph Campbell, it might be his oft-quoted call to follow your bliss.

About a year ago, career coach Kim Curtin gave me advice I hadn’t expected: watch Campbell’s interviews with Bill Moyers and see what inspiration comes about following your bliss.

Then Kim started talking about the recent premiere of Finding Joe, a new documentary about Campbell’s teachings, specifically about following your bliss and another popular Campbell-ism, the hero’s journey. Here’s the trailer:

This inspiring film by Patrick Takaya Solomon features such diverse perspectives as Deepak Chopra, Mick Fleetwood and Tony Hawk. I scribbled down these 10 thoughts in the dark movie theater:

  1. If you haven’t found your bliss yet, think back to the thing the other kids teased you about, the thing that made you different. Because often your bliss is not what others are doing or what others tell you to do. It’s individual to you. It’s your path, not anyone else’s.
  2. Your parents most want security for you, but if you bargain away your life for security, you will never find your bliss. Living in fear of failure or fear of what people might think keeps you from your bliss.
  3. The movie tells the story of a small village that covers its golden Buddha statue in mud to keep approaching invaders from stealing or damaging it. It works, but the villagers are driven from their home and eventually no one is left who remembers the statue is gold until the protective layer cracks. Sometimes your great value is hidden from view until something cracks you to let it out.
  4. Nietzsche said, “The snake that cannot shed its skin perishes.”
  5. Deepak Chopra suggests in the movie that you pick two or three of your favorite heroes and really think about who they are and why they appeal to you. Hold them close, and see if you don’t start to adopt some of their strengths into your own life.
  6. What if you climb the corporate ladder but find it’s propped against the wrong wall?
  7. Your bliss doesn’t have to be profitable to be worth doing. Part of the journey is exploration. Something that starts as a hobby could turn into a career, but you don’t have to know where it’s leading if you’re just doing something that makes your heart feel good.
  8. On every hero’s journey, there is a dragon you must slay. Campbell said the dragon is often covered in scales that say “you must” or “you must not,” representing the social obligations and fears that keep you from your bliss. You must face down this dragon, though sometimes you don’t need to slay it — you can show it love and it will give you what you want. You just can’t let it defeat you.
  9. What if time and money were limitless? What would you do then?
  10. Courage is not the absence of fear. It’s moving forward feeling the fear. And that can be learned. It’s like going to the gym. You practice tolerance of fear and courage, and it becomes more and more familiar.


Learn more about Joseph Campbell at the Joseph Campbell Foundation

Learn more about Bill Moyers and his work that included six hours of interviews in The Power of Myth

Watch The Power of Myth on Netflix (if you’re a subscriber)


Categories: career, creativity, lifestyle

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8 replies

  1. Adding this movie to my netflix queue.

  2. Colleen: What a fantastic synopsis of the movie Finding Joe! I love these 10 take-a-ways! I’d like to add that his work continually inspires me. I have read and re-read, listened and re-listened to him and his work time and again and he always works on me in a new way. His wisdom is like a sunset, new & different each time.
    There is so much talk today about story-telling and he is one of the best I’ve every heard. That’s why I always advocate people start with The Power of Myth so that they can get to hear him! Even though I was a young girl when I first heard him – he drew me in like a magnet.
    Patrick’s movie did an amazing job at showing us what Campbell’s studies and teachings are all about.
    I would not be who I am today nor would I have had the courage to live this extraordinary life I’ve lived without Campbell’s inspiration.
    Thank you Colleen for this great post!


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