We see the bumper stickers which advise us to “Follow your bliss” and read travel, spa and even restaurant ads which promise blissful experiences. However, what exactly is bliss?
Bliss comes from an English word originally meaning outward lightheartedness, merriment, happiness and joy. It is related to the Sanskrit word ananda that translates roughly as supreme happiness or ecstasy. From a psychologically perspective, bliss moves from the external to an internal feeling of being in soulful or spiritual harmony or peace with not only your self but with the entire Universe. That certainly is a tall order to fill!
Before we can follow our bliss, one must find it. Decades of not following your bliss make it difficult to know exactly what your bliss is. However, we get moments of bliss when we are living according to our true self. Those ‘aha’ moments, the spontaneous tears and the unplanned laughter, and partaking in passionate interests which are deeply meaningful. These are times when your soul lets you know, “Alright, I’m here with you and I like it.”
Start by doing more of want truly gives you feelings of inner joy, peace and contentment. Take an honest look at how your thinking and actions affect you. Think the thoughts and hold the possibilities that bring a heartfelt smile to you. Start to let go of beliefs, expectations and roles that restrict who you truly are. Notice when the ‘can’ts,’ ‘shoulds’ and ‘are you crazy’ thoughts arise. What part of you does not want you to follow your bliss? What would following your bliss mean for you and for others?
When you begin to follow your bliss, ideas, situations and opportunities begin to flow. As Joseph Campbell, who coined the phrase, ‘Follow your bliss,’ advised, “Find where it is, and don’t be afraid to follow it… doors will open where you would not have thought there would be doors.” As you begin to trust your inner wisdom more, you begin to get glimpses of possibilities and of hopes for a better way of living your life.
Bliss is not found by looking outwardly – we find our bliss within. Although we were born with bliss, it got buried or put aside as we chose paths which served others more than served us. Campbell stated, “If you follow your bliss, you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living.” Spiritual leader Howard Thurman suggested, “Go out and do what makes you come alive, because what the world needs most are people who have come alive.”
According to Campbell, we seek moments which “our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances without own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive.” Ah, the rapture of being alive! This is bliss – a feeling that we are living the life aligned with our true self – the life we were intended to live.
What brings you alive? Where do you find your bliss?