The path to bliss

blissI received an email this morning from an old friend. She’s struggling at the moment to find her purpose in life. She is a dynamic, gorgeous person with a big heart and soul, who has dedicated her life and energy to work. She chose the high flying career path rather than the kids and family path. But now that she’s in her early 50s, she’s questioning whether she did the right thing. And what to do next?

I have other friends who have reached a similar age but chose a different path. They dedicated their life to their families, had children and didn’t take the highest paying jobs or the ones with the most advancement because they couldn’t do that and look after small children. But now, their children are growing up and flying the nest. They also ask if they did the right thing. And wonder what to do next?

I took the middle road. I took a high paying job and tried to balance that with kids and family. In the end, I couldn’t do it. I crashed and burned out. It’s made me re-evaluate all of my priorities and change my life completely. There isn’t an area of my life that hasn’t changed in the past three years.

I’m happier now than I ever have been and more at peace. But there’s still days when I question whether I’ve made the right choices. And I definitely wonder, what’s next?

My coach, Alan Cohen, talks about following your bliss. Follow my bliss.

Too often in the past I thought of life as a destination. I needed to get the next job or get to the next stage in my life or get a new car or get any number of things to be happy. But I’m come to see life as a journey. A journey where if we follow our bliss, we can’t really go wrong. We might make a wrong turn here or there, but if we follow our gut instinct, our intuition, it will always lead us down the right path for the journey. We’ll meet the right people, at the right time who will help us with whatever part of the journey we are on at that moment.  It might not all be smooth sailing and sunshine and roses, but it will just feel right somehow.

Following my bliss right now seems to have something to do with palliative care. All signposts on my journey at the moment are pointing towards something in this area. I am not sure how that will turn out or what that will look like, but I’m trusting my intuition and taking small steps forward as opportunities present themselves.

One of those opportunities is to do some volunteer work for our local palliative care organisation. Another is a class to become a death midwife.

My dad’s reaction when I told him what I’m doing was, ‘Can you make any money out of working with dying people?’ It’s a fair question for my dad to ask as I’m pretty sure he’s worried about my financial state at the moment. But it’s similar to the question he asked me when I told him I wanted to major in history and political science at college. He thought I should major in business or something that would help me get a ‘real job’ upon graduation. I followed my bliss and graduated with a double major in history and political science. That was almost thirty years ago and I haven’t starved or been without a roof over my head any night since then.

Dad was right on one level. A history/political science degree may not have been as practical as a business degree. But it did help me hone my writing, analytical and strategic thinking skills that have served me well throughout my career. So following my bliss was the right thing for me to do at that time.

I’m taking a bet that following my bliss now will also see me through. And it will lead me down the next bit of the path of my life journey.

All around me I see people in society who don’t follow their bliss. They are automatons getting through their day. Just living for the paycheck. Or so scared to follow their bliss because they just can’t bring themselves to trust that the Universe has their back. I want to live for the bliss, for the adventure, for the journey itself. And I know the Universe has my back. It keeps proving it to me over and over again.

I know others who are following their bliss. They have decided that life is too short and the journey can be a lot more fun if they follow their bliss. Some have given up everything to follow their dream. Some get to a certain point in life where they realise they have spent so much time making everyone else happy that now it’s time for them to make themselves happy. Some find creative ways to follow their bliss. I recently met a woman who told me she works as a public servant from 9 to 5, but she is an artist from 5pm to 9am every day. She has figured out a way to live her bliss.

And that’s the thing. Each of us have a different bliss to follow. What will work for my artist friend won’t work for my chef friend or my friend who is about to start massage school. But each of them are following their bliss in their own way.

So what advice can I offer my friend who emailed me last night? I think all I can tell her is to go within and remember what made her happy when she was younger. Nine times out of ten, that’s where our bliss lies. Because when we were kids we didn’t know any different than to follow our bliss. We did fun things that we were naturally drawn to. We didn’t worry about how to make a paycheck out of them or what to do next or be scared that it wouldn’t work out. Figure out what you are naturally drawn to and follow that. It might not look exactly the same as when you were a kid since you’ve learned a lot along your journey so far that you can now apply to your life. But see where it leads. It might just be the path you’ve been looking for.

The path to bliss.

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