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Reply To: Things Joseph Campbell Never Said


3. “When you follow your bliss, the universe will open door where there were only walls.”

To the best of our knowledge, though Joseph Campbell would certainly agree with this point, he didn’t say exactly this anywhere that we can find. This specific statement comes from Rebecca Armstrong, who had known Campbell, a good friend of her parents, from her childhood on; Rebecca may well have been paraphrasing, rather than using a direct quote.

Rebecca is accurately conveying Campbell’s sense of the phrase; JCF just can’t guarantee it’s an exact quote. Better to use one of the many other verified versions:

“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.”

Joseph Campbell and the Power of Myth, with Bill Moyers

“Follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be.”

Joseph Campbell and the Power of Myth, with Bill Moyers

“But each incarnation, you might say, has a potentiality, and the mission of life is to live that potentiality. How do you do it? My answer is, “Follow your bliss.” There’s something inside you that knows when you’re in the center, that knows when you’re on the beam or off the beam. And if you get off the beam to earn money, you’ve lost your life. And if you stay in the center and don’t get any money, you still have your bliss.”

Joseph Campbell and the Power of Myth, with Bill Moyers

“How do you find the divine power in yourself? The word enthusiasm means ‘filled with a god.’ So what makes you enthusiastic? Follow it.

That’s been my advice to young people who ask me, ‘What shall I do?’ I taught once in a boys’ prep school. That’s the moment for young boys (or it used to be; I don’t know what’s going on now) when they had to decide their life courses. You know, where are they going? And they’re caught with excitement. This one wants to study art, this one poetry, this one anthropology. But Dad says study law; that’s where the money is. Okay, that’s the decision. And you know what my answer would be—where your enthusiasm is. So I have a little word: ‘Follow your bliss.’ The bliss is the message of God to yourself. That’s where your life is⁠.

From Understanding Mythology: an interview of Joseph Campbell by Jeffrey Mishlove.”