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.