Follow your Bliss

“I’ve never done anything I wanted in my entire life” so ends the novel Babbitt by Sinclair Lewis.  Have you spent your life doing nothing you ever wanted?  Parents tell their kids “you can’t just do whatever you want!”  They can’t? Why not? What would happen if they did?

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Why do so many of us follow a life of obligation?  Why are we content to live a life not doing what we want to do?  What is blocking us? If we know the blockers, can we remove them and move into a life of bliss?

Fear.  I almost feel like writing this is a cop-out, of course it’s fear, it’s always fear, isn’t it?  But fear of what exactly? Here are a few.

  • Fear of judgment, fear of being shamed.  What do you think when your coworker leaves their high paying corporate job to raise Alpacas?  Do you feel that they couldn’t deal with real life? Did they flake out? Most of us don’t want to be judged like this, so we don’t pursue things that are out of the norm.

  • Fear of financial struggle.  “I have a mortgage!  My kids have school trips, soccer fees, and camp!  Plus I really like Disney World.” Can I give up all that to become an Alpaca farmer?  What if my bliss isn’t profitable? I’m facing this particular fear right now, as I pursue my own bliss.  As the primary earner of my family, I am afraid of putting my family at financial risk.

  • Fear of looking foolish.  This goes along with judgment, but it’s even more than that.  It’s about looking buffoonish and loony.

  • Fear of failure/success.   Following your bliss requires faith in the unknown.  You are forging a new path, and there are no guarantees.  You might fail. Or perhaps you don’t feel that you deserve success.

Not knowing our bliss.  Yes, I will follow my bliss but I don’t know what it is.  I fall into this category. I’m ready to be brave, but doing what exactly?  My brain has been scrambled by society’s constant suggestions on what is ‘good’ and ‘happy’ that I’m not sure I know what my bliss is.  And conversely, my bliss is so many things that I bounce around. Ironically, bouncing around is actually my bliss, but more on that in a future post.

Following your bliss requires some unpeeling of the layers of ideas that have been poured into your head over your lifetime.  When you shed all that, what is the true bliss that’s left?

False Dichotomy between being Responsible and Being Happy.  Many of us think that we being responsible requires sacrifice.  I was speaking with a friend about a career change she wanted to make, and her husband overheard this and angrily piped in “Stop encouraging her, she’s not like you!  She has responsibilities!” Wow. That’s a real dream killer. It’s not a choice, you can follow your bliss and still be responsible. Though it does require a leap of faith.

What is your bliss?  Let us know!