The key operative word in the ‘Follow Your Bliss’ philosophy is ‘your’.
I lead a monthly conversation series called The Bliss Catchers at Odyssey Bookstore in Chennai. The series is inspired by American mythologist and author Joseph Campbell’s (1904~1987) philosophy of Follow Your Bliss. Vaani and I bring in people into the conversation each month who have dared to give up predictable paths and go do what they love doing in Life.
So, I am often asked these questions. What if everyone in the world follows their bliss? Won’t society collapse because there may be no one to do those jobs that are a drudgery or are menial? Someone who visited us last week too asked me these questions again. And this person insisted that ‘following your bliss’ is detrimental to our social structure. This is what I shared with him.
First, let’s focus on what ails our society and what can possibly be the fix. There’s so much emphasis right from birth, through the growing up years, that by the time a person turns an adult, she or he is obsessed with earning a living. Our social conditioning has forced people to look for material wealth – money and things – all the time. But materialism leaves people incomplete, there’s a lack of fulfilment all around. Which is why people across the world are hugely unhappy. Folks like Campbell and British philosopher Alan Watts (195~1973) have stood up to remind us, again and again, that our lifetime is limited. So, they have championed that it is more important to be happy doing what we love doing than just earning money. They encouraged us, in their own ways, to follow our bliss, to live as if money were not an object, and watch how Life always, unfailingly, helps us to be happy doing what we love the most. Vaani and I have personally experienced the ‘opening of doors, where only walls existed’, when we have stayed rooted to our bliss. Campbell, in fact, said, ‘follow your bliss’. He didn’t say ‘follow bliss’. The ‘your’ is very significant. It means focus only on what gives you joy. The emphasis is on the individual. Not on society. The point here is that if each one follows her or his bliss, we will find our world to be a happier place than it is now.
Second, too much logic, too much analysis, constant comparison of the individual with peers, with social trends, is what has wrecked inner peace and happiness. Life is meant to be lived in the moment and enjoyed from moment to moment. If you can do what you love doing, for all your Life, then you are alive, you are living, and not merely existing. That’s how you live in the moment – immersed, in bliss. So, drop all your analyses, stop looking at others, follow your bliss first. See how you feel, see how your Life unfolds magically in the direction of your bliss and then see who else you can inject this spirit of discovery and inner joy with.
Third, even if, hypothetically speaking, all the 7.5 billion+ people in the world follow their bliss, it’s a cause for celebration not worry. The world will be so much more happier! Everyone on the planet will be thriving. Not existing. And in branding a job as drudgery you are being judgmental. Cleaning toilets may seem like drudgery to you, but may surely be someone else’s bliss. I am sure for almost every vocation out there, champions exist. And through following their bliss, of doing what they love doing, they will not only do things, that you may loathe, better, they will also do them happily!
Bottomline: just focus on your bliss. Nothing else. As they say on a plane, place the oxygen mask on you, before you help another get it on. So, you be happy first. When you are following your bliss, your happiness becomes infectious and your immediate world becomes happier. This is the way we can make our world blissful – one person at a time!