What causes your suffering is your choosing not to live your truth!
A young reader pinged me to say that he is confused. He is keen to be an actor. But his parents want him to be a software engineer. He is the only child. All his efforts to convince his parents have come a cropper. His father, in an effort to convince him to pursue software engineering, has threatened to throw him out of home if he does not give up his acting ambitions. “I don’t know how to convince my parents. It is not that they are wrong. My heart is just not in engineering. I would like to go to acting school. Perhaps to the National School of Drama. I don’t want to rebel. But I would much rather be out on the streets and work my way up as an actor, than toe my parents’ line and kid myself and them trying to be a lousy software engineer,” confessed the young man.
“What should you do when you are confronted with a dilemma – should I follow my heart or respect my parents’ wishes,” he asked.
I am not one who wants to advice children to be rebellious. But, whenever in doubt, follow your heart. This has been my principle. Always. Or, in other words, you have to do what you have to do.
Now, how do you decide what you have to do? Simple. Ask yourself what will make you happy and just go do it. Being an actor, in this young reader’s case, is his bliss. I sense that from his willingness to rough it out on the streets to work his way up in the entertainment business. That’s not just passion, that’s bliss. So, as Joseph Campbell championed, when you follow your bliss, doors always open. I too have experienced this so many, many, many times in Life.
Surely, following your bliss is not restricted to career choices alone. It really means that in any context in Life do what makes you happy. Do what protects your inner peace. You may perhaps want to call it living your truth. Which is, anything that makes you come alive, is your bliss, your truth. Follow it, live it. When you don’t live your truth, you agonize, you suffer.
I know a young lady who doted on her father. But she loathed his congenital tendency to lie. He had serious problems in his business and was borrowing from Peter to pay Paul. And he was always lying to everyone, including to his own family. One day the lady pinned him down and told him on his face that she had lost all respect for him as he was a liar. It was a direct hard-hitting statement. Her mother asked her how she could speak so “hurtfully” to her own father, who she loved so much. And the young lady replied: “The truth is he is a liar. In not telling him that I was living a lie. Now I am at peace.” I was witness to this event in this family and I simply loved the young lady’s clarity. She reiterated, through her behavior, to me, no matter what the context is, no matter who you are dealing with, you have to do what you have to do. If this means telling something that will make someone else feel squeamish, so be it. If it means you have to speak up to power and seniority, so be it. What matters is that you are at peace with saying what you have to say and doing what you have to do. Period.
Almost all the time we suffer only because we want things, people and situations to be different from the way they are. If following your bliss, living your truth, doing what you have to do, can help you be more peaceful, more happier, than you are, then what are you waiting for?
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When happiness is your ROI, you are living a Life that matters!
Yesterday a guest, who I was inviting to be on my Bliss Catchers show, wanted to know why I curate this Event Series.
I said it makes me happy. “I love doing it,” I added.
But he persisted and was keen to know what I got “out of it” – as in what is my material “return on investment” (ROI)?
I clarified that, to me and Vaani, just being happy was the single-most important criteria for doing anything. Happiness is the only ROI we look! Yes, money is important. We all need money. And we particularly need all the money that can come our way because we need to climb out of our financial situation – our bankruptcy – and turn debt-free. But when you can’t get money (as is evident from our experience), you can still do what you love doing for just the joy of doing it. So, we curate Events such as The Bliss Catchers , The Uncommon Leader and Heart of Matter – Happiness Conversations , I blog here daily and I deliver Talks even for organizations (NGOs and not-for-profit enterprises) that can’t afford to pay me a fee. Inspiring Happiness is now our raison d’etre, our Higher Purpose, for Vaani and me.
There are two parts to earning a living in Life as I have understood it. You can work for profits and you can work for joy. The ideal situation is when you can just work for joy. But you need to pay your bills, so the second most ideal situation is when you can work for both joy and profits – which is to make money while doing what you love doing. It is only when you forsake what you love, and go work only for profits, at the cost of your inner peace and joy, that you lose the plot. You suffer and feel miserable earning all the money that you do. So, for Vaani and me, when our business failed, we decided to retain our focus and only do what gave us joy. Therefore, even when we do not always get the opportunity to monetize what we do, we go ahead and do them, because doing them makes us very, very, in fact deliriously, happy!
I have realized that if you immerse yourself in what you love doing, you lose yourself to Life; then your entire living experience is a prayer! When you immerse yourself in what you enjoy doing then it ceases to be work. It becomes your Life. Then no loss or challenge can pin you down for too long. Then your energy, the one within you, resonates with the Universe’s energy. In that beautiful communion, an inner peace, a rare joy, takes over. And your entire Life becomes a celebration, a prayer, an offering to this Universe!