I’ve done a lot of things in my life for work – some more fun than others. I have children and bills to pay, so I’m no different from anyone else.
Except for one thing.
No matter what I’ve done, I’ve worked to find the things about whatever it is that give back to me, that feed me while I expend energy.
In the later parts of my life, I’ve been a people manager of various capacities, a trainer and a coach, so the conversation about finding bliss comes up a lot. It’s the way I operate, so something I often discuss. I love helping people find their “thing” and then showing them how to move in that direction, so they can feel more personally satisfied. I just had one of these conversations recently, so I guess it’s on my mind.
In working to motivate people, working to help them identify the thing that’s truly their bliss despite of – and often in contrast to – the words coming out of their mouth, I work to get into their heads to find their hot buttons, those things that really wind them up. And in the course of doing that, this is one of those conversations that happens. What struck me about this particular conversation was the surprise. These words were a revelation for this person. I’ve been this way in my head so long, it sometimes still takes me by surprise when I’m reminded that not everyone thinks this way.
In a way, it makes me sad that more people don’t know this about themselves. I live for harmony and creating harmony, so helping people find their bliss becomes very attractive to me from that aspect. Can you imagine a world where everyone was doing things they found even marginally fulfilling? I mean, imagine the good vibes generated from all that. It would permeate the world and flavour everything from farming to manufacturing to inventing to science to the arts. Sounds like Utopia, doesn’t it?
Let that settle in your head for a minute. Imagine how that would feel. Think about how that would affect the world and how people treat each other. Personally, I would really like to live there. And I know we can create that world.
I can’t be the only one to recognise that the desire for happiness and peace and personal satisfaction in what we do has somehow become marginalised. That’s the part that makes me the most sad. It’s turned into a joke people halfheartedly snicker at, because while that state is truly what they desire, fear of being mocked prevents them from going after it. I find that ludicrous.
When did this happen?
We used to have a hell of a lot more artisans of multiple varieties who took pride in their work. Eager apprentices who wanted to learn a trade that made them happy. And they’d do it their entire lives and pass it on to other people who were also drawn to it. It created a cycle of people who followed their bliss no matter what it was. Not everyone needs to be famous. But that’s not where we live anymore and that’s not what we hear. And that’s wrong. We live in a society that created an artificial bias against trades and other pursuits. Anything that doesn’t end in being a YouTube star is now somehow lesser.
Macroeconomics has continued to fascinate me since high school and I’ve studied a lot of global economic cycles and catalysts. But you know, even without knowing a single thing about it? I can guarantee you, if you take a step back for a sec, you could see the connection between the rise of corporations and the belittling of trades in the past hundred years or so. It seems like a huge issue that can’t possibly have a solution and we’ll simply have to deal with it.
I say we don’t have to. An artificial construct counter to human need should satisfy us? I say we rise up and chuck that shit out the window. Trade and commerce will continue, because people make things and want things and want things other people make and it’s a hell of a lot easier to move those things between countries now. So we don’t have to work so hard at that anymore.
Let’s get back to work on people.
Bottom line? People want to be happy. People feel satisfied by their own productivity and mastery of the things they’re compelled to do. It’s makes them feel valuable and valued. But what happens if you’re compelled to pursue something like pipe-fitting or arc welding? What if you gain great personal satisfaction from that while you’re told that’s a garbage thing to do with your life? How are you supposed to feel when messages around you scream satisfaction by and aspiration to anything that’s not a rock star or a superstar athlete makes you a lesser human being?
In case there’s no one else in your life who will ever say this to you, I’ll tell you straight up – it’s bullshit. Don’t listen to it, because it’s a lie. Listen to your heart.
All kinds of people make the world and on some level, everyone is interconnected. When we allow each of those components of our conjoined reality, all those different people, to follow their bliss, their connection to everything else really does affect everyone’s reality. If everyone had permission to become what they truly craved, to follow their bliss, there would be very little latent anxiety. Repressed resentment that has no target would nosedive. It certainly wouldn’t end up leaking out all around, unloaded on innocent bystanders, and fuelling a toilsome atmosphere of general unhappiness and crappiness. It wouldn’t fix everything that’s wrong in the world, but people wouldn’t have a lot of the problems they struggle with now.
And no, I’m not talking about the outliers, and I don’t think it’s okay for serial killers to follow their bliss, so stow the social justice warrior poisoned barbs. Those people are abhorrent and skew differently and are clearly not part of a balanced equation. But I believe there might be less outliers if there was more balance around them to help prevent them from becoming broken in the first place. People, all people, seek balance and that’s a fact and they’ll do all sorts of crazy self-harming and lashing out shit in the frustration that comes from being out of balance. We wouldn’t help them all. There will always be those few who remain beyond help, because they’re broken in a way we can’t fix. But we could help a lot.
We could help ourselves.
In case no one else ever says these words to you, I’ll say it. You have permission to follow the path that makes you happy. And no I’m not telling you to leave your family and take off backpacking through the Amazon, because you thought that might be a cool thing that will make you happy for a minute. Be a grown-up. Think deeply and be honest about your personal hot buttons.
Acknowledge and learn those things about yourself that will make you happy for a lifetime.
Really take a look at what gives you personal satisfaction. I’ve taken jobs to pay the bills, too, but I aim for jobs I’ll get something back out of. The ones that I gain more personal satisfaction from. It is possible. And I’m not only talking about white collar jobs here. I mean things like overnight retail restocking crews and cleaning hotel rooms and yard work for day pay and the drive through at Tim Hortons and piecework from home, all of which I’ve also done. I’m not afraid to get my hands dirty. I truly gain a lot of personal satisfaction out of those sorts of jobs and I’m not afraid to tell people that, either. I really quite enjoy it. For me, it makes a nice balance to being all up in my head so often as a writer.
I’m a terrible liar. A long time ago, I realised I couldn’t look my children in the face and tell them they could become everything they ever truly wanted when I wasn’t doing that myself. So I sat down and examined what I was doing. And it wasn’t easy. But that’s when I learned who I was and what makes me truly happy. And I’ve followed my bliss ever since in all the forms that takes. Even the ones people around me don’t understand. I don’t care. My life is full of joy. And my children? Incredibly motivated and not afraid to try anything or go after their dreams. How can that be a bad thing? I have the same thing happen with people I coach and train. I just had it happen again this week. Someone came back to tell me how happy they were they changed course and grateful for my encouragement. To have that reflected back to me in those ways? That’s my nod from the universe that this is the right way to go about it.
The point is, no matter what the job is, everyone deserves to be able to do one that makes us happy for our own reasons. Not because “society” or the Internet tells us we shouldn’t be satisfied by the thing that really does satisfy us. It’s a lie and you don’t have to listen to it. If you’re happy doing the job you’re doing, you will become more successful at it.
Find out what your “thing” is. Examine those things or the single thing that you sacrifice for the most – time, effort, thought – and look at that thing. Allow the thought to exist in your head.
Because that “thing”? That’s your bliss. Grab it with both hands and run.