Aren’t you incredibly lucky already, that you are created human – the one who gets swine flu – and are not created as the swine that gives the flu? Why do you need any more luck?
At the end of my Fall Like Rose Petal Talk recently, someone in the audience, a business leader heading a large corporation, observed that Vaani and I were very lucky to be surviving this ‘treacherous’ time in our Life. He said, “I just can’t wrap my head around this. But hearing your story makes me believe that miracles do happen. I can clearly see that, every time you are both at the edge of a precipice, something, call it grace, someone, perhaps God, has come and bailed you both out financially. You both are incredibly lucky!” Interestingly, a reader of my Book Fall Like A Rose Petal (Westland) wrote to me yesterday sharing this link on how a Cornell professor has researched the connection between luck and money.
Now, I have nothing against or in favor of luck. Just as I have nothing against or in favor of money. But why aren’t we celebrating that we are human, that we are alive? Why do we need to examine luck at all, and why give it undue importance, especially from a material perspective? For instance, we consider someone ‘lucky’ if they win gold in a slogan-writing contest, but those others who competed – who could think creatively and express themselves – were ‘unlucky’ because they didn’t win!
The problem lies with the relationship we have with money. I believe we humans don’t see money as a resource that must be deployed for living Life fully. We don’t see it as a means, we instead see it as the end. Does it matter that you don’t have money or things when you have good health, you have a loving family and caring friends, when you have a home that you can come back to and when you can still sleep like a baby when you hit the pillow? This tendency to focus on what we don’t have – and if it is money in question, then no one can ever have enough of it – is causing us to remain unhappy, to suffer.
Life has to be lived celebrating what is. Not analyzing why what is the way it is. And definitely not lived by moaning about what is not. Yesterday, we were at one of the finest hotels in Chennai, talking to a couple of senior managers about our work and our Life. Neither of them were influenced by our impoverished financial status. They treated us with so much warmth, so much dignity. They heard us out and considered the value we can create for their teams, instead of evaluating our net worth. This is the kind of celebration that I am talking about – this blessing of being human, being compassionate!
And let me tell you, if you remove material reference points from your Life, if you don’t consider money to be an object, all of us are, uniformly, without doubt, incredibly, incredibly lucky to be born human. Think about it. You have been created without your asking to be born. Isn’t it possible, employing the same theory of probability that you use in other contexts, that you could have been created as something else – a swine, a reptile, a tree, a rock…whatever? The very fact that you are human, that you have a smartphone, that you can read this blogpost and internalize its point of view, in your own unique way, that, to me, is evidence of how lucky you are.
Personally, I have evolved beyond considering the luck factor in my Life. I remain overwhelmed and humbled by all the grace and abundance that’s raining in my Life – non-stop, 24×7. I believe being human, being alive, is a miracle. So, I simply experience Life for what it is, without questioning, without analyzing, anything. And in each moment, I offer a simple prayer to Life – “Thank you, thank you, thank you!”
To follow your bliss, all you need is to decide what you want from your Life. Nothing else is either necessary or matters!
I curate a monthly Event Series at the Odyssey Bookstore in Chennai called The Bliss CatchersTM. Each month I invite guests who have gone on to do what they love doing. I talk to them to understand how they have followed their bliss. Last evening, as the June edition of the Series wound down, a member in the audience asked me if following your bliss was really possible when one had financial and familial responsibilities and commitments? Besides, he added, if someone’s bliss – like traveling – required money, won’t it be important for that person to first save up that amount and then follow their bliss? Which means, is following one’s bliss then the exclusive privilege of a select few?
I am often asked this question. So, I was hardly surprised when it came up again.
First let us understand what bliss really is. In recent times, American mythologist and author Joseph Campbell (1904~1987) has demystified bliss and has made it both understandable and accessible to those who are ready and willing to follow what they truly believe in and come alive with. Bliss is definitely not what you attain sitting under a tree. It is who you are. It is what makes you come alive. Which is why Campbell says follow your bliss. So to someone it may mean cooking, to someone else it may be gardening, to another it may be traveling and so on. Another way to know what your bliss is, is to ask yourself what would you like to be doing in your Life if money were no object. If you didn’t have to worry about earning money or paying your bills, what would you want to do? That which you so absolutely love doing is then your bliss.
However, in the real world, you can’t escape money or materialism. So, how then can we pursue what we love doing without upsetting our material ecosystem? There is no straightforward method or answer available here. Just as bliss is uniquely personal, so is the way to follow it. To each one their own. So, at best, we can try to follow a simple thumb rule though.
Decide what you want from your Life. First understand what your bliss is by asking what you would be doing if you didn’t have to earn money. Then, examine your current reality and ask yourself: Are you working for joy? Or are you working for joy and profit? Or are you working only for profit, only for money?
In any context and in anyone’s Life, all three scenarios are possible. You must address all three before you decide which one you prefer. Obviously, a no-brainer is that the best scenario is when we can get both joy and profit from the work we do, from the bliss we (wish to) follow. But if you are stuck in a job or business that gives you only profit and money, and if you want the money more than your inner joy, then there is no point grieving over the lack of joy in your Life! And if you are experiencing joy doing the work you are doing, and are not making enough money from it, then don’t grieve the lack of money in your Life! Either you can try and bring joy into your Life if you have only money or bring money in your Life if you have only joy! Be clear. Be decisive. If you want a different scenario from what you currently have, remember you have to change your Life! Be clear about what you want, and go for it. Please don’t complain, please don’t whine, pine or grieve. So, really, following your bliss is not a limiting philosophy or idea. You limit yourself with your thinking, with your arguments, with your logic, fear and insecurities. Period.
If you examine your Life, all your unhappiness comes from not doing what you want to do or from doing what you don’t want to do. So, to do what you love doing, you must decide what you want from Life. Like so many, many others have done. Look around you. You will discover that almost every story of world-class performance and success (in purely real-world, material terms), in any field, conforms to this philosophy. Simply then, if you want to be happy, if you want lasting inner joy, go be the best at whatever you love doing. Money will always follow.