I read a lot about what others think is the best way to live. I have spent countless hours studying spirituality, philosophy, psychology, history, and literature trying to learn about how people live satisfying lives.
Even though there is no one “right” way to live, there are two things that come up again and again as being essential to a happy life: Bliss and Faith.
We’ve heard them both before, but do we really incorporate them into our lives?
HAVE UNWAVERING FAITH
One way you can live a satisfying life is by having unwavering faith in something.
It seems clear to me that the recent popularity of New Age spirituality is a cry for certainty in our lives where none exists.
Today, we can always question the truth of any opinion or way of life. While this seems to give us some freedom, the uncertainty actually causes a lot of anxiety.
Back in the nineteenth century, Soren Kierkegaard came to the conclusion that faith was the best way for humans to live. This doesn’t mean that you have to join a church. You can have faith in the dominant cultural ways of life. You can have faith that raising a family is humanity’s fundamental task, or that promoting democracy and freedom around the world is the way to go.
It doesn’t really matter as long as you are certain of your mission.
However, having faith is not really a choice.
Paul Tillich says faith is a matter of grace and not something that can be willed.
This is why spiritual traditions the world over stress the paramount importance of having faith.
If we are lucky, we have faith in something. We live according to our faith whether it be a mission that is greater than ourselves, or raising a good, healthy family.
However, if it is hard to find our faith in something, then we can try following our bliss.
FOLLOW YOUR BLISS
Following your bliss has become trite, but Joseph Campbell did not come to this conclusion lightly.
He studied society, mythology, and religion for years before proclaiming it to the world.
If you don’t believe that there is any overall purpose to human life that we haven’t created ourselves, then you would also realize that there is nothing that your really have to do.
If our existence on this planet is just busying, distracting, and entertaining ourselves until death, then why wouldn’t we just do what we love?
To do otherwise would seem ridiculous. We would just be going along with a faith we don’t really believe in.
But following your bliss does not solve all of life’s problems.
For me personally, I feel that to fill my life with meaning, I must follow my bliss.
Ernest Becker says the following:
The most anyone of us can seem to do is to fashion something–an object or ourselves–and drop it into the confusion,
make an offering of it, so to speak, to the life force
I think what Becker is saying here is that following our bliss means finding something we enjoy and are working towards. My bliss just happens to be the process of searching for different ways of living a satisfying life.
Irvin Yalom says that when we are finished working on our projects or goals for the day, we should immerse ourselves in the steam of life:
To find a home, to care about other individuals, about ideas or projects, to create, to build–these and all other forms of engagement, are twice rewarding: they are intrinsically enriching, and they alleviate the dysphoria that stems from being bombarded with the unassembled data of brute existence.
If we cannot have faith in something outside ourselves, we can be courageous and put our faith in following our bliss. Follow your bliss as much as you can in a day, and when you inevitably get tired of it, engage in the stream of life, and let it uplift you as much as possible.