On Bliss and Passion

A week ago, I read this post on living a bliss-centred life by Hugh Macleaod ( a cartoonist, photo is one of his creations). It was the first time I heard of Joseph Campbell and  his “Follow your bliss”. Macleod said that seeing for the first time was an “aha” moment, and in answer to the question of how, he says:

You just decide to do it, and then you go and do it. Or not. Whatever. It’s your call. It’s your path….Nobody can do it for you. Nobody can go there for you….

This echoes the same themes mentioned by Sarah Kay and discussed in my related post describing one’s journey.

One of the comments on Macleod’s post alluded to the accessibility of “Follow your bliss”, in contrast to the almost-cliché, “Follow your passion” (who hasn’t heard of that?).  Is there really chasm between these two? is the question I’ve been mulling over in the past week.

I tend to agree with Macleod’s  interpretation of bliss as “that mysterious place where the central energy of being finds it source”, particularly since Campbell purportedly hit on the idea from the Upanishads, with bliss juxtaposed with being and consciousness. I would interpret bliss as that state when you are really true to yourself and you feel fully alive.

How might I follow my bliss or passion? First, I have to answer what it is I need to follow.


I can still remember when I first realised that the reason I love drawing was with a few pencil strokes, what once was a blank piece of paper is transformed into art (in my eyes, anyway). Or that with a few melodic or hamonic touches of the piano (or guitar), music is created. Or with a few words I can form a tweet and with a few more, a post. Or from a multitude of resources on the internet, I can craft something coherent and engaging to facilitate learning.

When I create, I follow my bliss.


I love change and wondered if it constitutes following my bliss. Truth is, I love change when I see it as an opportunity for improvement. What I love, then, is the challenge to do things better and not change for change sake.  A challenge is an opportunity to create and innovate. Challenges are how I push the boundaries of who I am and who I am not, what I can do and what I cannot.

When I face a challenge, I follow my bliss. Failing a challenge, while disappointing, is part of the journey and I gain from what I learn anyway.


One of the hardest things since I became a parent is to claim some “me” time. That said, I have this need to connect with other people: family and peers either face-to-face or via technology.  People are so interesting and they are a good source of challenges and inspiration to create.

When I connect, I follow my bliss. That I’m dis-connected sometimes heightens this bliss.

What of passion?

I am passionate about learning and the main driver to setting up this blog over a year ago.  My pedagogical principles revolve around facilitating learning. I admire those who share the same passion as both affirming and challenging. By connecting, I am able to learn whenever, where ever and often from people I will most likely not meet face-to-face.

“Follow my bliss” is how I follow my passion. Equally, “follow my passion” drives me to follow my bliss in new and innovative ways . There is no chasm between these two as far as I’m concerned.  A good personal example is my one-off stint years ago to join the hundreds-strong choir along with the Sydney Philharmonia Choir at the Sydney Opera House to perform Handel’s Messiah. It was a challenge. It was connecting with others. It was (music) creation. It was a time of much learning on my part.

Do you follow your bliss and/or your passion? Do you know what constitute these? How can we help kids follow their bliss and passion?BLISS

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7 thoughts on “On Bliss and Passion

  1. Maureen Devlin says:

    Wow! This is a wonderful post. I read Campbell’s book years ago and loved it. All that you write is true for me, and you say it so well. I’m mainly motivated by the vision of a better world and a better experience of living for all. I hate to see potential wasted.

    Twitter is such a great source of ideas and sustenance. I’ll follow you as you continue your creative, blissful, passionate journey. – Maureen

  2. Anna Bring says:

    Hi Malyn,
    thanks for directing me to this post. I really like what your writing and I really recognise my own bliss and passion to follow in your post. I am also struggling quite a lot right now to find some “Me”-time and lately with sick kids and trying to prepare for moving it hasn’t been much of it. I also want to continue to post on my Creativity Blog and I have been doing some arts and crafts lately, but haven’t really had time to document it. In a month or so I hope that everything is back to “normal” and that I will have some more time to follow my passions.
    See you later!

  3. Dan Haesler says:

    How can we help kids follow their passion?

    The $64000 question…

    We all need to view human potential differently. We all need to define success differently and we need a supportive education system to help us do this.

    As education professionals, schools need to lead the way in “mining” the best of each child.

    Why don’t schools start from the point of view that EVERY child is gifted and talented, and it’s their job to help the kids realise that.

    Not good at maths? So what? She’s amazingly empathetic.
    Can’t remember the key historical dates for the essay? So what? Have you seen the way he energises people around him?

    Rather than grouping/judging/sorting/dismissing kids by what they can or can’t “do”, we need to see kids for who they are.

    Then we need to facilitate ways for them to interact with like-minded people (their tribe) – which shouldn’t be too hard in the digital age… and let them find meaningful ways to use their strengths…

    Too often we underestimate the potential of our kids, becuase they do not live up to our (very narrow) expectations at school.
    That’s my 2 cents… only $63,999.98 to find! 🙂


  4. malyn says:

    @DanHaesler Fantastic 2 cents.

    I think , depending on developmental stages, kids may or may not even know who they are let alone for us to see it.

    Perhaps our job as parents and/or educators is to help them find out who they are as well as help them develop towards who they want to be….and that means exposing them to a variety of opportunities in terms of learning experiences. I know that some opportunities are harder to pursue due to limitations in time and resources but we’ve got to try.

    It’s ironic that ‘grouping’ or ‘categorising’ gets so much flak nowadays but it really is an application of higher order thinking – something we are supposed to foster. It is part of knowing kids and is essential in a classroom of individuals or else the poor teacher will struggle to cope. The proviso is that such categorisation and evaluation lead to action – the much-touted create part in HOTS. How can we as parents and teachers help our kids and students create a future for themselves that would mean they are true to themselves, i.e. follow their bliss?

    Finally, here’s an article by Lori Gottlieb that serves as additional food for thoughtHow to land your kid in therapy.

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