Joseph Campbell on the Art of Being Alive.

“As you proceed through life, following your own path, birds will shit on you. Don’t bother to brush it off. Getting a comedic view of your situation gives you spiritual distance. Having a sense of humor saves you.” ~ Joseph Campbell

If there is one mentor who has helped clarify the quest for happiness like no other, for thousands of us, restless people, it’d be Joseph Campbell, without a doubt.

Best known for his works in comparative mythology and comparative religion, Campbell’s mantra Follow Your Bliss is one of the most important lessons you must learn and embed in your tired human heart—preferably before you die.



Most of us will agree that happiness is not a place or a destination—all places are temporary, situational, nearsighted, small… Happiness can only be a journey, a constant re-awakening.

Joseph Campbell takes this so-called-happiness to the next level, by transforming our tired post-postmodern race it into a quest back to our original version. An adventure? Sign me up, Life.

Because all discovery is really a rediscovery—of things we were born knowing but somehow managed to forget. As such, we are always students, always eager and curious and recent. Old life in young lungs, time after time. Who wouldn’t want a piece?

And here comes the most important lesson of my life.

The one thing I’d tell my children if they existed, the one meal I’d eat every day if words were food, the thought I’d get tattooed on my forehead if I dared (or on my heart—sometimes I can’t tell the difference), the single spiritual magic trick I’ve actually seen turn into flesh and make miracles.

I asked Joseph Campbell one day, “Dear Sir, what should I do? I try and try and try to change my wasteland into an oasis, and all I get is a mirage. It looks like water, but it’s not. I’m thirsty, Joseph, damn it.”

He smiled with his eyes:

“The world without spirit is a wasteland. People have the notion of saving the world by shifting things around, changing the rules, and who’s on top, and so forth. No, no! Any world is a valid world if it’s alive. The thing to do is to bring life to it, and the only way to do that is to find in your own case where the life is and become alive yourself.”


Life is a funny lady. She tries to teach you things. 

But you can only learn them by doing (or undoing).

“I don’t believe people are looking for the meaning of life as much as they are looking for the experience of being alive,” Campbell continues.

“I don’t know whether my consciousness is proper consciousness or not; I don’t know whether what I know of my being is my proper being or not; but I do know where my rapture is. So let me hang on to rapture, and that will bring me both my consciousness and my being.”

So dear You in Me in Him, Her, Them, dear Us, put this on your fridge, lest you forget. It’s your heart’s most urgent shopping list.

“Follow your bliss. 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 you ought to be living is the one you are living. I say, follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be….Wherever you are—if you are following your bliss, you are enjoying that refreshment, that life within you, all the time.

Once you realize that this is your only quest, your only battle worth fighting, life takes on a new meaning, lighter clothes. It reminds me of Isaiah‘s biblical poetry:

“{You} will find new strength. {You} will soar high on wings like eagles. {You} will run and not grow weary. {You} will walk and not faint.”

But between soar and soaring, Joseph advises: “Find a place inside where there’s joy, and the joy will burn out the pain.”

And you’ll be home, no matter where you are.

And it’ll be a new day, everyday.




More wisdom from our Mentors & Masters: 

>> Viktor Frankl on love, success & the meaning of life.

>> Hermann Hesse on Trees, Longing & Belonging.

>> Rainer Maria Rilke on the Art of Being Alone.

>> Charles Bukowski on quitting his job & doing what he loved.

>> Henry Miller on wholeness, love & conflict.


 {Hurry up! Sincerely, Your Bliss.}




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Andrea Balt
Co-Founder/Editor-in-Chief of Rebelle Society, Wellness Alchemist at Rebelle Wellness & Professional Dream Chaser at Creative Rehab. Unfinished book with a love for greens, bikes and poetry; raised by wolves & adopted by people; not trying to make art but to Be Art. Holds a BA in Journalism & Mass Communication, an MFA in Creative Writing & a Holistic Health Coach degree from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition®. In her work she tries to reflect the wholeness of the human experience by combining Art & Health + Mind & Body + Darkness & Brilliance into a more alive, unabridged and unlimited edition of ourselves. She is also on a quest to reinstate Creativity as one of our essential Human Rights to (hopefully and soon) be included in the UN Declaration. Connect with her in the Social Media Jungle via Facebook, Twitter & Instagram and sign up for her FREE MuseLetter.


  • Mamaste
    Mamaste commented on November 9, 2012 Reply
    A – I’ll get the tattoo on my forehead if you do. Follow Your Bliss! ~Mamaste
  • Seth Newfeld
    Seth commented on November 9, 2012 Reply
    the big falicy is “The pursuit of Happiness. Happiness exists inside us! There is nothing to pursue! We already possess it, but it’s locked inside. Thank you for reminding us of JC’s lesson! <3
  • Bob Bergeson commented on November 9, 2012 Reply
    Happiness can only be a journey, a constant re-awakening… …Because all discovery is really a rediscovery—of things we were born knowing but somehow managed to forget… “I don’t believe people are looking for the meaning of life as much as they are looking for the experience of being alive…” Following our Bliss requires us to accept our own presence – in all it’s frailty and strength, not yearning for something outside our self. Then, ironically we are able to give back and engage with the world. Happiness comes from our ability to give without expectation of return. Inspiring article!
  • Naga Nath commented on November 9, 2012 Reply
    Ah thank you AB for this fresh of breath air. JC is another of my posthumous mentors! He and Jung go hand in hand. I encourage all to take the time to read his 4 volume compendium “The Masks of God”.
  • mariposatree commented on November 12, 2012 Reply
    What a fantastic post! Humor, following your bliss, and finding an inner place of joy. Thank you Mr. Campbell, and Ms. Balt.
  • Andrea Balt
    Andrea Balt commented on December 1, 2012 Reply
    Thanks for loving life as much as him – as you – as me. Singing to Nina Simone.
  • Stefanie Honeder commented on April 1, 2013 Reply
    yes, new doors are opening! :)
  • James Towar commented on July 24, 2013 Reply
    Thanks for posting this- I discovered Joseph Campbell back in the 80’s with my father, watching “The Power of Myth”- Bill Moyer’s interviews w/ Campbell shortly before he died. My father had the “Follow Your Bliss” quote engraved on a plaque for me for one of my young birthdays- My father was a lifelong artist but now is declining in a nursing home-whenever I see that quote I am reminded of him and Campbell’s lessons…
  • fosterthetime commented on August 1, 2013 Reply
    Sadly this is the first article I have read on this site which I don’t “get”. I feel like I oughtta. I’ll try again later.
  • mindtwin commented on December 14, 2013 Reply
    There’s a downside to following your bliss that’s seldom talked about. People in your life that aren’t following their bliss will grow to resent you b/c you are doing something that they don’t have the courage to do.
  • Philip Bond commented on December 15, 2013 Reply
    “Life is a funny lady” and yes, she continues my lesson relentlessly. Many lessons come with pain and sorrow attached yet most are welcomed and yet still all are necessary. I’m here today better than before; tomorrow I’ll be better still.
  • outlayers commented on December 15, 2013 Reply
    Love you, love your boy Campbell, Love the ever-lovely, beautiful NIna Simone at the end…I have no words..thats how good.

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