Question of the Day: No. 524

By Troy Headrick

Here’s today’s question:

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever heard or been given?

My answer:  Back when I was in graduate school, I did a big research project that brought me in contact with the ideas of the great Joseph Campbell, famed expert on comparative mythology.  Campbell, in his famous book The Hero with a Thousand Faces, advises his readers (and all people) to “follow their bliss.” 

Here’s Campbell talking about the importance of finding “bliss” in life and what it means to follow it.

I look forward to getting lots of really good advice.

Troy Headrick’s personal blog can be found here.

55 thoughts on “Question of the Day: No. 524

  1. My German grandmother would reprimand me whenever I was naughty (often – I was a ‘challenging’ child) . . .
    “Freddy too soon old and too late smart”.
    I’m still working on it 😀

    1. I also had a German grandmother who was pretty tough. Unfortunately, she died of breast cancer when I was about eleven years old. Without just a little imagination, I can hear my grandmother telling me what yours told you. Like you, I’m still “working on it.” Thanks for sharing your story and for adding such a wonderful comment.

    1. Things do “happen,” don’t they. That’s the nature of life. It’s what we do in response to those happenings that makes the difference. Thanks for the comment.

  2. Hi Troy, follow one’s bliss and it will open doors in life! That’s a great one. At the time you heard the advice, did you reflect on how it applied to your life, or did it change your life’s future trajectory? My favorite advice in life is to BELIEVE IN MY WINGS! Haha. It helps me not be so trapped in my mind. 🙂

    1. You’ve asked me some good questions. I think the advice mostly helped me understand what sorts of things I should pursue and how I should live if I wanted to be happy. Campbell’s comment connects nicely with Abraham Maslow’s idea of “self-actualization.” Your “believe in your wings” is really good. I guess we all have wings. We just need to have the courage to use them. Thanks for the comment.

      1. Amazing! I relate to the experience you share, someone told me what makes people successful is when they follow what lights them up inside. Actualizing your potential is quite the journey to finding what fulfills you! Haha, exactly, wow, I wrote a poem and actually tied the ideas of “believe in your wings” and “courage” together. That’s exactly what I meant. Thanks!

  3. From my experience most advice given and taken is followed by neither the giver nor taker. I think learning from experience and practically implementing those learnings is the right path to self-awareness. Tooting one’s own horn for the car of another seldom has beneficial effects. But everyone’s experiences differ 🙂

    1. Most people I know do have a stubborn streak running right through them. My father also had and gave lots of good advice. While I was growing up, he often reminded me that the best lessons often come with a little pain. I guess he was trying to say what you’ve said in your comment. I think we often become more self-aware after getting a swift kick in the butt. Thanks for the comment.

    1. Right! I once asked a very wise friend if he had any regrets. He said, “How could I have lived in any other way than the way I have lived? To do do so would have meant that I had become a person other than the one I am.” That really opened my eyes. Thanks so much for participating in this interesting conversation.

    1. I certainly think you have a wise mum. Debt is a kind of slavery, isn’t it? I’m lucky that my wife and I have no debts to speak of. Thanks for the comment.

  4. “Follow your Bliss’ is something I have lived by ever since I read Joseph Campbell’s words….:). Another is Don’t be indecisive…. Indecision can kills. Thank you. Janet

    1. Thank you, Janet. So you also know Campbell. I’m lucky to have discovered his books when I was a younger guy. I’m often quite indecisive myself. I’m the sort of fellow who rarely shops, but when I want to, say, buy something, like a new computer, I’ll worry over the decision and study it and take quite a long time to actually make the purchase happen.

    1. Very recently, I’ve been hearing a version of this which goes like this: “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.” There’s lots of wisdom in both versions. We sometimes stand around waiting to be “saved.” Instead of that, just step up and take care of business. Thanks.

      1. That’s another nice version. When you truly understand it’s meaning, it brings along so much peace and power at the same time. Instead of wasting our time and emotions on wasteful expectations from others, we become incharge of our own happiness. And of course, no one knows our needs better than us.

    1. Campbell is a really wise dude. If you’re ever looking for an interesting book to read, I’d definitely recommend The Hero with a Thousand Faces. Thanks.

  5. Hey Troy! This is a good one!

    My mentor always tells me: “If you get only one thing from I hope it’s this; the ability to continuously learn. That’s where success resides.”

    1. Hi, A. B. I hope things are going well. As someone who likes to think of himself as a life-long learner, I fully embrace such advice. Curiosity. Inquisitiveness. Both will take anyone far in life and are great prerequisites for living happily. Thanks for sharing.

  6. I have told people that we should live happily and show to the people who said that we cant live.

    What i have heard is that patience and hardwork can take you to heights. Sky is the limit

    1. Yes, yes, and yes! I’m always astounded at how much better I feel after a workout. Even if I’m tired, I try to go for a long walk or ride my bike. Oddly enough, after exercising, I feel less tired than I did before I started. Thanks so much for such wonderful advice.

      1. It helps when I ‘m tired, stressed and want to reboot my brain. I’m almost 80but look I my late 50s. I’ve hD all the heart issues that killed my father at 59, my mother T 83, my oldest brother at 75. My teaming brother has had hearth attacks, quadruple bypass surgery, is on too many meds, diabetes, 12 stents, deaf and could loss his legs!

        I have had the same problem: HBP, A-fib, heart murmurs and much more, but no heart attacks and a mild stroke in July.

        Never felt better.

    1. Americans spend so much time living in the future and planning and setting goals that many forget that the only time we really have is the here and now. The past is gone, never to reappear or be relived (except as memories) and the future is not guaranteed. Actually, I’ve never heard the piece of advice you’ve given in exactly the way you’ve presented it. It’s incredibly true and profound. Thanks for sharing.

  7. My sister, who has a PHD in Philosophy, told me something after my 1st husband committed suicide that helped my feelings of guilt, that I should have seen it coming, and that I was at least partly to blame. I can’t remember what she said verbatim but it was something like, “Most people do the best they can. Your best might be different five years ago, or five years in the future, but AT THAT TIME in your life, you were doing your best with what information you had.”

    1. Your sister is wise and gave you some really good advice. Most of us mostly do the best we can given the limitations we have. One of those limitations is what we know about ourselves and others and the situation at hand. Most people don’t want to fail or let bad things happen to others, but we often overestimate our power to affect others and affect change. Thanks so much for sharing your story and advice.

    1. People almost never get in trouble staying quiet and calm. People often get in trouble getting loud and saying too much. While I was typing my response, I was reminded of the old saying, “Silence is golden.” It really is and it’s self-preservative too. thanks so much for sharing your story.

  8. The best advice ever heard, in my opinion, is “life is what we make of it, if you smile at life and it will smile right back at you; if you frown, it will frown back at you.”

  9. The best advice I ever got, was from my parents, when I was low on self esteem and confidence. They told me – remain brave, remain kind and remain yourself. Sometimes that’s all you need in life 🌼

  10. This is advice I received second hand, but the story of how the advice was first received is a good one. A now good friend of mine from Finland, who also happens to play ultimate frisbee, was playing with some other very good friends of mine. An easy to catch pass was thrown and subsequently dropped. In a low, matter-of-fact tone which held kindness, this Finnish friend said to the person who dropped the disc: “Shit happens, play D.”

    It was specifically about frisbee, and relates to other sports well too, but is also useful in life.

    Bad things will happen. Some because of mistakes we have made, some simply occurring in our sphere of influence, and others will just happen. We can lament the bad thing, or we can acknowledge it is shit, and move on to playing defense as best we can.

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