All over facebook these days you will find those inspirational little memes that tell us how to live a happy life. Many of them instruct us to follow our dreams 100% and all will be peachy, but I have to say that I personally find them offensive and short sighted.
Don’t get me wrong, I do believe that we can manifest our perfect reality if we put our minds to it, but I don’t think it is as simple as it is made out to be, and underneath the sugary surface is something that is more bitter to taste.
Here is an example:
So what is wrong with this? Why shouldn’t we follow our dreams?
No reason at all, but we have to be realistic about the amount of work needed and the ultimate effect. Can we really just hand our notice in and expect the world to go with what we have in mind?
The first part of manifesting something is intent which is bound in with faith. The teacher Kryon uses the metaphor of jumping into a lake when talking about working with intent to create a reality.
When we stand on the edge of the lake we know many things, we know that when we jump off the earth gravity will pull us into the water, we also know that once we jump there is no going back, and finally, we know will will be getting wet.
All of these things are guaranteed; there is no danger of gravity not doing its thing or for the water to not be there to cushion our fall when we land.
But life isn’t like jumping in a lake, we are not working with laws of physics that do not fail us so we have to trust that what we believe will happen actually does happen.
In many aspects of life it doesn’t matter if it goes wrong, we can try things out, make changes and if it wasn’t quite like we hoped we can walk away. This safety net allows us to take small risks and I encourage people to do that. Feel the fear, do it anyway and you never know what wonderful things might happen.
But, I feel these annoying little quotes point to much bigger things in life. They are often worded in a way that implies one of the biggest aspects of our lives, our full time job.
How many of us get up on a Monday morning and face a week doing a job we don’t find inspiring? I know I do and almost everyone in my social circle is the same. Some are lucky to have jobs they love, but it’s rare. So these little quotes suggest we could just drop it all, follow our hearts and all will be well.
Think about that for a moment and think about the metaphor of jumping in a lake. Do you have 100% faith that you can hand your notice in today and at the end of the week have the money you will need to pay the bills?
I don’t think there are many people out there that have that much faith in their higher power or their ability to manifest; and yet this is what the meme implies. There is no talk of preparation. We should be able to ditch what we are doing and either walk straight into our perfect job or trust that pennies will fall from heaven so we can swim with the dolphins.
And this is where my problem stems from. When we read these quotes it sets up a thought process that is not what the poster intended. This is how I think it actually goes:
Person reads the quote and thinks
Hmm, yes, you’re right. I should be doing something I love.
I hate my job, it’s so boring and doesn’t fulfil me in any way. Everyone else has a job they love, why can’t I do it?
What would I love to do all day?
I know, I would love to swim with dolphins, how amazing would that be?
There are people who get paid for that aren’t there?
So, what do I need to do? Well for a start I need to be where the dolphins are.
Not many dolphins in Wellingborough, I’ll need to move.
Hmm, will have to sell the house. So I’ll get it on the market.
While I’m waiting for the estate agent to come I can hand in my notice at work and look at where I can find dolphins.
There are no reliable dolphins in the UK, I need to go somewhere else in the world.
I’ll look into how much it will cost to move to where the dolphins are.
Also, what jobs are there out there that pay to swim with wild dolphins?
Hang on I would need to be a marine biologist? I have qualifications in horticulture and bookkeeping, I need a degree?
That’s a 3 year course at least. How am I going to pay the bills?
What about my family? How would they feel if I asked them to let me up sticks and move to the Caribbean?
But the text says I should do what I love and everything will be fine! My life sucks!
And so we find ourself feeling like we are stuck in job we hate, not following our dreams and less than adequate.
So what is the answer?
For me, the concept of doing what you love is missing the point of true happiness. It’s easy to be happy when everything around us is lovely, but there is no substance to that happiness because it is based on everything going our way. As soon as something happens that is not to our taste our world comes crashing down. We don’t learn to find the silver lining in the cloud if there are never any clouds.
This is where learning to Love What You Do comes in. Same words, just in a different order but such a different meaning.
If we accept that there are things in life that are necessary but not particularly nice we can start to find ways to love them, to look for those silver linings; and there is 2 ways to go about this:
Gratitude – Look for the aspects of the situation that actually give you something good. My job bores me senseless, but:
- It pays for me to have a lifestyle that I enjoy.
- It gives me a reason to get out of bed every day.
- I have people around me so I am not on my own all the time and there is always a chance of making wonderful friends.
- Sometimes it gives my brain a work out.
- I am not at home so I don’t have to do housework.
See how I can start to feel grateful for a job that is less than perfect?
Secondly, we can use the concept of “acting as if”. This sounds like I shouldn’t work but from experience I can assure you it does. We act as if we enjoy our job, we act as if it is important to us, and in time we find that we do enjoy it and it is important. Try it, it really does work.
In this process we are learning to be happy no matter what. Rather than our happiness being based on external situations and things there is a foundation of self reliance. If we managed to get the job swiming with dolphins, how scared would we be, deep down, of losing it? But if we can do a job that doesn’t initially inspire us but still be happy it doesn’t matter if we have to find another job.
But, I also think the problem with the opening quote runs deeper and is even more damaging to society.
What happened if everyone in the world decided to jack in their boring job and follow their dreams?
Lets take just one job that many people take for granted; rubbish collection.
How many people do you think aspire to be bin men? Do you think there are enough kids in schools saying to their careers teachers “I want to get up at 3am every morning and pick up everyone else’s rubbish”?
Personally I very much doubt it. And yet we are ALL supposed to follow our dreams. What state would the world be in if we did that?
So, before you repost that meme that tells people we need to follow our dreams remember that if we all did that society would start to struggle very quickly. When you throw rubbish in the bin, give thanks for the fact that there are people out there that aren’t following their dreams, they’re getting up in the morning and doing what needs to be done, and you know what some of them may actually learn to love it.