I’ve been tossing around this question in my mind with regards to following one’s bliss. Well, I may have more than one question. Basically, it seems to me that a large percentage of the world (at least in this day and age) cannot follow their bliss because their material conditions don’t permit them to do anything apart from labor for the basic necessities of their existence. (Do you agree with this?)
Thus, following one’s bliss appears to be a life path that only a select group of humans are privileged enough to be able to follow. Rhetorical question — why am I (or any of us) one of the lucky ones? I don’t think we *shouldn’t* follow our bliss by any means, but I almost feel bad writing about it on my website or otherwise possessing it as a sort of life mantra when it cannot be universalized to all people.
I’ve also considered that perhaps it can be universalized, but that for some people, following their bliss would just have to be something they do in their free time. It can’t be one in the same with their livelihood. As in, perhaps for some people of the world following their bliss might mean spending two hours at night with their family or painting in their garage or making music on weekends, etc.
Another thing I’m thinking about is that this idea of following one’s bliss is relatively new and wouldn’t have made much sense a few thousand years ago when humans had far fewer life paths to choose from. I almost seems to me that it’s possible that this is a part of human evolution. By that I mean that humans were somehow meant to develop more sophisticated social organizations to enable them to pursue a wider array of pursuits, thus allowing them to more fully express their human soul/imagination/personality in whatever it is that they decide to do. Any thoughts on this would be welcomed.
So, yeah, I needed to release these thoughts somewhere. Hopefully you ladies and gents find this interesting. Again, my main question:
Are we validated in encouraging people to ‘follow their bliss’ when the mantra is (potentially) not universally applicable?
As I’m considering a bit further, I think it certainly makes sense for us to still encourage everyone to find a way to follow their bliss in some capacity. Doing so is what brings people alive, gives them a sense of purpose, fulfills them. And, following one’s bliss is what I believe ultimately leads people to effect positive change in the world, hopefully bringing the world closer to a place where everyone can follow his or her bliss. I guess I think we should all just recognize how fortunate we are to be able to follow our bliss. It’s a hell of a privilege to do so in this world, and we shouldn’t take it for granted. Hell, if you have the opportunity to follow your bliss and you’re *not* doing that, it’s like you’re slapping everyone in the face who will never really have the option. Just my opinion. I’d love to hear others.
@bashfulkoala, I was going to say what you said in your reply to yourself.
If we are a “privilaged few” who do have this opportunity, we sure as hell better take it, else it’s an insult to those who don’t.
I would agree with you, why encourage us to follow our bliss when it isn’t something that is universally applicable, but hey, what’s this entire Western Civilization that we’re in. If everyone in the world did that, we’d be pretty fucked.
Not doing something because not everyone is going to be able to do it is a poor reason not to do something… It’s like, the antithesis of new experiences. Why go skydiving, if it would be impractical for everyone to go? Why go explore a secret waterfall, that would be ruined if everyone hiked to it? Why have sex with your partner, if everyone can’t do it?
@bashfulkoala, I think you’re taking this “bliss” thing too literally. Material wealth doesn’t dictate weather you are happy or not. Not universally applicable? I disagree.
It’s not that this “finding your bliss” or whatever is something new, it’s just more documented nowadays.
@bashfulkoala, Perhaps not everyone is privileged or blessed enough to follow their bliss if it means making a lifestyle out of what you love; maybe what’s more important is making love in your lifestyle. Sure, the garbage man never planned on collecting trash when he was a thoughtful young adult, but maybe he enjoys the simple fact that he is helping clean up the city and contributing to recycling for the community. I probably could’ve come up with a better example, but my point is that while not everyone can drop what they have to follow a new bliss or new lifestyle, I believe that everyone may have the ability to find bliss and true happiness in their lives.
Pretty agreeing with everyone. Maybe social condition can make it harder depending on the bliss, but it’s not a rule. I know some very rich people that are kind of unhappy whereas I see very poor people being happy with what they have. The mindset you adopt in your life is what effectively makes things “easier” or “harder”.
@bashfulkoala, I see bliss as a state of mind that comes from committing yourself fully to an intention. Some people have more resources, but it’s in the activity of losing yourself to the cause that bliss is found. Most things are fulfilling because of what they mean to you anyway, not because of the activity itself. I imagine the bliss of a photographer isn’t in pointing the camera and clicking the button, but in choosing to be to see reality with beauty and design.
This topic interests me now because it is descriptive of my present struggle..not as any sort of abstract struggle…but a biting reality that I am confronting moment by moment, day by day…I actually feel very energized and …perhaps I could say, I am in a state of bliss because I feel in touch with what I want to do and I have been spending time doing it, learning and practicing …and being rewarded in terms of positive feedback from people who either directly benefit or simply witness and enjoy what I’m doing. I would like to follow the path I’m on and find a way to be financially rewarded for doing what I love doing …since it is essentially the expression of who I am and who I can’t help but “BE”, no matter what I do for income. Strange in a way …but true that what I do for income I have always had to force myself to do…when the work was plentiful I could earn a decent income and “dream” of making a change…yet the work itself was very demanding, so it took all my time and attention and the idea of seeking my “bliss” was simply a pleasant thought or dream…but nothing compelling me to change my life. The effect of the economy on my work and income has been drastic and long term devastating. ..So right now I am hardly able to survive and actually living with the threat of eviction/ potential homelessness …that doesn’t stop me from “seeking my bliss”…so I feel “happy”…at the same time I recognize that I need to survive first, and this state of “bliss” will leave and abject misery fill the space it occupied if I fail to find enough work/income to prevent eviction etc ..I guess my situation is “mid-story”…the end of this particular chapter is yet to be written…so I am actively confronting my reality ie the need for money…TONIGHT I WAS THINKING HARD…just give it up and go back to feeling numb and miserable and unconscious…just focus on staying alive …it also struck me that depression may have a significant “survival value” in this sense…because when I am depressed I am also more realistic …more “nose to the grindstone”…higher order brain functions are diminished by depression…and following your bliss is a “higher order” activity…but if you can’t afford it, it could distract you just enough to kill you…so that’s where I am…looking for a way but wondering if following the path of my dreams will actually end by falling off a cliff to my destruction…
To follow your bliss is really just living in the moment – and doing the little things with bliss – which will then grow into bigger things.
If you nurture the little things that bring you bliss now, and anyone can do this no matter what your situation is, then it will grow. Slowly by slowly.
So do things now with presence, and feel good about them. Be there fully. Right now, your bliss (purpose) is to fully read this sentence. Once this is done, you’re bliss will be when you look at another page. If you get a drink, then your bliss will be in drinking that water, appreciating everything that you come into contact with.
The desire to become greatness and to do something which has meaning means to live with ego, and to not fully live.
To live with ego is to live in illusion, to desire fulfilment in these things which you think will give you fulfilment.
Also this, Maslo’s heiarchy of needs. “Attaining your Bliss” seems to be higher up on the triangle, and you can’t build to it till you have a solid base.
I should’ve been more specific by what I mean by ‘following your bliss’. I see now that my phrasing was arbitrary and could thus be taken in a thousand directions. For clarification, I am not in any way stating that I believe that happiness depends on material wealth, @motorik. I also do, in fact, believe that people can find bliss, satisfaction, and happiness, the whole shebang, (assuming their basic needs are fulfilled) in virtually any situation.
However, I was referring to following your bliss in the sense of literally being able to do WHATEVER you want to do. Want to become a naturalist? Do it. Want to be a monk? Do it. Want to be an artist? Do it. There are countless possibilities for a fortunate minority group of people in the world, and in theory, most anything is feasible for said group of people if they want to work hard enough to do it. This seems like an incredible privilege. That’s what I was getting at.
Some people live in totalitarian states. Some people must do manual labor all day just to eat. Some people are in countries in the midst of internal conflict, war, or genocide. For the majority of the world, following one’s bliss in the sense I’m referring to *isn’t* an option. I guess I just feel really lucky, almost a little guilty about it. Why me? Why do I deserve to be able to get a college education, go teach in Korea, pursue my dream of being a writer, artist, and philosopher? I’m so immensely grateful for these blessings, and I suppose that’s all I can be, but it’s just a bit troubling to me. That’s really what I was trying to express.
And it strikes me now that this could come off as a first world problem, whiny-type post. Please don’t take it that way. I’m just posing these rhetorical questions and explaining my thoughts because I wanted to express it somewhere and potentially fuel a discussion.
Everyone is already following their bliss!
When we see others as creators just as ourselves, we allow them to manifest whatever they like, whether that be “their bliss” as we might perceive would be good for them, or whether they create their own little anger/poverty/frustration hell in a handbag existence that we might perceive as detrimental to life itself!
They’re still creating; therefore creation itself is the bliss we talk of, and that is going on regardless of our personal desire for all beings to be “happy” or wanting the world to be a certain way.
Just try to perceive the ever present bliss, even when it is hidden in the so called misery of others, then we allow the universe to unfurl itself in it’s own astounding way.
@bashfulkoala, I see. There are many ways, but then again you can also look in the point of view of those people, and you would see the privileged as people who are chasing their tails trying to find their “bliss”. A happy family that gets fed three times a day is the ultimate “bliss” for some, and if you think that they are poor, you’ve got it all wrong. We have a lot of resources but no substance, while other people have no resources and a whole lot of passion. I really don’t know how to explain it… I hope you get my point.