The Pursuit of Happiness: A Dive into Fulfillment and Potential

Jonathan Doyle Global Motivational Speaker

In this episode, we wrap up “Joseph Campbell Week” by exploring the essence of happiness. Join me, Jonathan Doyle, as we delve into Campbell’s insights on happiness versus pleasure and uncover the components that truly bring us joy. Tune in for a reflective journey on finding happiness amidst life’s complexities.

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    Welcome Aboard

    Hey there, my friend, Jonathan Doyle with you once again. If you are just tuning in, this is the end on the daily podcast “Joseph Campbell Week.” I said it’s kind of like the old Discovery Channel Shark Week. This week, I’ve been focusing on some fascinating insights from the mythologist, philosopher, and thinker, Joseph Campbell. And for regular listeners, it’s been a really different week. It’s not my usual, purely personal development content. We’re going a bit deeper this week.

    If you’re just catching this episode, you might want to go back and listen to it. I think that we started around March 4, so there’s a bunch of good stuff there, but welcome aboard. Anyway, whatever happens, you are here now so let’s get you some value.

    Before we kick in, please make sure you’ve subscribed. It is a huge help if you could do that. There’ll be links to the website. If you’re on Instagram, come and send me a DM at @jdoylespeaks. Give me a follow, reach out, and say hi. If there’s any content or topic you’d like me to cover, you can reach me on Instagram or through the website: You can find out about the work I do there. Speaking at seminars around the world, corporate consultancy work and a whole bunch of other things that I do.

    Exploring the Essence of Happiness: Joseph Campbell's Perspective

    So let’s finish off this week with a really good quote from Joseph Campbell. And he says,

    “The way to find out about your happiness is to keep your mind on those moments when you feel most happy. When you really are happy, not excited, not just thrilled, but deeply happy. This requires a little bit of self-analysis. What is it that makes you happy? Stay with it no matter what people tell you. This is what I call following your bliss.”

    Now, some of you, if you weren’t listening earlier in the week, would know there’s a bit of history to that, follow your bliss. Because it got hijacked in the 1960s around the idea that if it feels good, do it; whatever you feel is pleasurable. Go do that. 

    Decoding Happiness: Historical Evolution and Philosophical Roots

    Aristotle and the Aristotelian school of thought held that the ultimate aim of human life was happiness
    Aristotle viewed human existence's goal as happiness

    There’s a huge backstory here, especially through classical Greek philosophy, about the difference between happiness and pleasure. Pleasure is contingent upon a particular experience. Happiness is a state of being.

    For Aristotle and for the Aristotelian school of thought, the purpose of human existence was happiness. But not happiness in the sense that we construe it these days. I’ll explain this really quickly, but for most people now, when you hear the word happiness, you’re thinking about a feeling state. Happiness is like an emotion. That’s actually very new; it only really began to appear around the time of the French Revolution.

    So before that, all the way back into antiquity, the concept of happiness actually meant virtue. To be happy, it was to be virtuous, to be a person who had, in the classical sense of virtue and habitual disposition, a habit or habitual disposition to do the right thing. So happiness had a strong link to operate in a moral sense, in the sense that we would do with our language, our bodies, and our relationships, we would do the right thing. And that would lead to a state of happiness because it was congruent with the nature of our being.

    Let’s unpack this Campbell quote a bit, because why am I doing this? Firstly, because it’s a culture obsessed with happiness, right? Tony Robbins was good at this. He calls it chunking up, which is not chucking up but chunking up.

    Self-Analysis for Genuine Happiness: Joseph Campbell's Approach

    Chasing temporary pleasures often leads to buyer's remorse, lacking lasting happiness
    Chasing temporary pleasures often leads to buyer's remorse, lacking lasting happiness

    A lot of people, you ask them what they want, and they’ll say something specific. What do you really want? If you could have anything you want? — I want my house paid off. Or I want to find someone I can marry and have a relationship with. So you paid your house off, then what does that give you? What is it that you get when that happens? They’re like, I would feel peace, or I’d feel relaxed, or I’d feel happy or excited.

    You realize that a lot of the things that we say that we want — are things that we think are crucial to us — are actually ways in which we access particular feelings, states, and emotions.

    We might always remember what they call the buyer’s remorse. How many times have people saved up and bought a brand new car? Driven it off the lot, there’s this feeling of happiness. I’m happy. Everything’s good, I’ve got what I wanted. Then a week later your life is pretty much the same. Most of us can realize that pursuing these particular little ticker box things that we do in life. It brings us fleeting experiences and happiness. But they don’t intend to bring us significant, lasting senses of happiness.

    Keep your mind on those moments when you feel most happy. This requires self-analysis. What makes you really happy? My life is probably as busy as yours. It’s complex, it can be stressful. As I said in the episode on Monday, we’ve got three teenage kids. We’ve got a really complex business with a bunch of people working for us. We got stuff happening all over the world. It is full on. It’s very busy.

    Pursuing Authentic Joy: Insights from Personal Experiences

    Embrace personal adventures, explore with passion, and cherish moments of pure joy
    Embrace personal adventures, explore with passion, and cherish moments of pure joy

    What makes me happy? There’s two things at the moment that bring me joy and happiness. One is surfing, when I pull into a good wave, I am someone who’s very in my head; I’m like a real head person. I’m analytical, I’m constantly in my head. But when I’m out there on the board, it was totally not in my head. I’m forced to be completely in the physical moment in the center of being rightly connected to life and nature. This is an important part, nature has a big part to play for me too, because I think for me, that’s a powerful way in which I sense the presence of God.

    When I’m surfing, I feel genuine happiness. I said this to Karen at dinner last night. There’s this feeling that I’ve been waiting for all week. It’s the feeling of when I paddle out and duck dive the first wave and the water goes over my head for the first time. This feeling when I come up and I’m smiling. I’m almost giggling because I’m just in a place where all of the complexity and demands of my life don’t tend to reach me. And I’m really immersed in the presence of beauty and the divine. I’m happy there.

    I had another experience this week. I’m playing a lot of golf at the moment. I’m just blessed that I’m lucky to be a member of a really beautiful course here where I live. I was on the 16th hole, it’s a long par four, and I had it pretty well. I ripped a big drive in the middle of the fairway, and I’ve got a long three-wood to the green.

    It was just the most perfect afternoon, it was just pine trees, a blue sky, and solitude, and no one’s around. The fact that no one’s around means I can make this story up. No, this actually happened. I really thought through the shot carefully, really committed to trying to do it well, and I absolutely stripped it onto the green. I didn’t play it very well, I was using bad words. There was no one there, but I have to tell you the truth, I used bad words. And I was literally frustrated. I’m like, Life is terrible, everything is terrible.

    Reconnecting with Nature and Solitude: Pathways to Happiness

    Find solace and renewal amidst the beauty of the natural world
    Find solace and renewal amidst the beauty of the natural world

    Then the next hole on the 16th, when I parked it and played like we were suddenly happy, I’m going; hang on. As I’m talking to you today, why was that experience of happiness? And let me join the dots. I was in nature, I had solitude. It’s going to sound strange, what I did was play that hole really well and what that means is that I have potential. My potential to play was actualized. Which means I could have played that whole game terribly, but through concentration, application, and effort. I was able to manifest my capacity for excellence.

    It might sound like a strange example, but the joy that came and the happiness that came from the result were the result of feelings that I had. I did something good with the ability I had, and that led to a feeling of happiness.

    Now, if you extrapolate those from the specific to the general, from the concrete to the abstract, It means that happiness comes from being in a particular environment and fulfilling my potential. Golf is the concrete example and the abstract principle that flows from it is: Solitude, nature and realizing potential. These are the things that brought about an experience of happiness.

    Optimizing Happiness: Practical Strategies for Daily Life

    Maximize happiness with practical daily strategies, mindfulness, and embracing peace
    Maximize happiness with practical daily strategies, mindfulness, and embracing peace

    So at dinner last night, Karen and I had this catch-up routine because our lives are busy and we really have to make time for our relationship, 25 years of marriage. We have this thing where it’s like, What are the three wins you’re having at the moment? What are three things for which you’re really happy and you’re excited about? Two of mine are golf and surfing.

    Let’s talk about you, right? Where are the experiences in your life at the moment where you experience not just temporary excitement, or you’re thrilled about the short term. But where’s the happiness? And you might be in a really tough phase right now. You might be thinking I don’t have any; there’s no happiness in my life Jonathan, it’s all terrible. That’s not quite true. There will be something.

    I’ve had bad days, even recently, and things have been really tough. I love to read, and we have a really beautiful bedroom. Since we’ve been married, we’ve always had the bedrooms as a very special place. You can’t dump stuff in there. It’s a very calming place, very beautiful. And at night we have this fan in the room, It’s really just peaceful too. I go in there to read. No matter how bad the day’s been, I feel this kind of relaxation. I’ve always got a great book I’m actually reading, a 900-page biography of the American Civil War, by General Ulysses S. Grant. It’s just fascinating, but that’s irrelevant. No matter what, if things are tough, there’ll be joy somewhere.

    Discovering Components of Happiness

    Identify happiness components and integrate them into your life.
    Identify happiness components and integrate them into your life

    So, my friend. Where’s the happiness in your life? Try to pull it apart a little bit and look into the components of it. Look into the components of it. For me, the golf had certain components when I pulled them apart and looked at them, they pointed me in other directions. What does that mean? It means both surfing and golf are telling  me, Jonathan, your heart, your spirit needs a connection with nature. So many of us these days are living in really busy, crowded, difficult, technological cities with devices all the time.

    Even from the Bible, Adam, I think of Adam and Eve. Adam, in the original Hebrew, means the man of the earth. The kind of mythological first parents that we have as first humans were people deeply connected to the physical world. The Genesis story starts in a garden, right? I think there’s a part of us that needs reconnection to nature, to solitude, to beauty. But you have to find yours. So that’s the message for today. Even if life’s tough for you at the moment, Where’s the happiness? Analyze it and look for the components. Try to bring more of those components into your life.

    Closing Remarks: Spreading Happiness and Gratitude

    Jonathan Doyle - International Speaker, Author, Executive Coach and Mentor
    Jonathan Doyle - International Speaker, Author, Executive Coach and Mentor

    Please make sure you subscribe. Go check out all the links. Instagram: @jdoylespeaks. Everything else is on the website:

    If you’ve got a need for staff training, if you’ve got conference events, I cover a huge range of topics and can build something specific. I just love being on stage and blessing audiences. I do a lot of consultancy work now for big corporations too. If I can be a blessing to you in your professional work or any other area, go check out the website.

    God bless you my friend, it’s been a big week here. “Joseph Campbell special edition week”—who knows what’s going to happen next week? Who knows? Do me one last favor, I want to see this grow. I want to share these ideas with more people. So if you’ve got family, friends, or social media feeds, If you could put these links on those feeds and share them with some friends that would be a huge blessing.

    God bless everybody. My name is Jonathan Doyle. This has been the Daily Podcast. You and I are going to talk again very soon. 

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    Jonathan Doyle


    I’m on a mission to liberate the potential of the incredible people that make up your organisation, school, or business.

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