Stop Trying To Be Happy And Follow Your Bliss


Happiness. Everybody’s looking for it. I just googled the word and 40,000 hits came instantly up. Even I, a confirmed non-techy, realize that translates to lots of folks chasing it.

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But what is happiness? And how do you find it?


The dictionary says: ‘Happiness results from the possession or attainment of what one considers good.’ Now, that’s about a lame description! And I know tons of folks (I’m sure you do too) who worked tirelessly to achieve what they considered to be good, only to find in the end they weren’t happy after all. And then they were pissed about that in addition to not being happy. Talk about adding insult to injury!


As everyone likes to say: Money can’t buy you happiness.
No, but it can sure buy you freedom. And if freedom is what makes you happy, then viola! Happy you are. But if you were looking for money itself to fix your life, not-so-happy you are. Dang that money anyway.


How often do we, especially in youth, believe that a soul mate will make us happy? That one person who, famously from Tom Cruise’s movie-roll lips, “completes me.” Eeeek! If you need someone to complete you, I strongly suggest therapy! Happy relationships don’t start co-dependently (except in movies). That sort of relationship is going to come with surging highs, but also troubles and trials and precarious lows that take you back to not-so-happy once more.


Often I hear folks say to fake being happy until you are. But I always thought Deepak Chopra, MD, had the best answer to this when he called it mood-making. It’s not real. And will slip right off like a runaway in the night.


Of course we all know that happiness is not a thing we achieve by striving for it. That’s like trying to hold water in your hand—the tighter you grip, the more liquid you lose. I always loved Victor Frankl’s take on it: “But happiness cannot be pursued; it must ensue. One must have a reason to ‘be happy.’ Once the reason is found, however, one becomes happy automatically.”




It’s like those moments of inspiration (inhaling spirit) where you take off at a mad gallop after characters running through your story.
Or at least, that’s what inspiration is to me 🙂 The world around you blurs at the edges and your heart patters and time stands still while that thing races on and you are oh-so-happy to chase it. Ah, now that’s bliss!


One of my favorite people who ever lived on this planet was Joseph Campbell, and I’ve studied him forever. Probably long before I even knew I was enamored with his work. His ‘follow your bliss’ lives between the lines of almost all great works of spiritual teachers, from days or yore to modern times. It’s what the real myths teach.


And it’s that very thing talked about above—that running with the wind at your back when the goal isn’t even the thing, the sheer joy of flying being meaning unto itself. Because it’s in following our bliss we find that happiness has tagged along for the ride. It indeed ensues, as Frankl says, without being pursued.


And once you find and follow that bliss, then it becomes so abundantly clear, as Pharrell sings, that “happiness is the truth.”


Bliss to me is writing and stories and characters run amok and trying to see if they can dig themselves out. It’s words and the turning of a phrase that tweaks you oh-so-happily. It’s reading other great authors and falling in love with their people and places and plotlines.


So that’s happiness and bliss to me—what’s yours?


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