Follow your bliss
I remember feeling pure bliss after waking up one morning. A few months prior, I gave birth to my firstborn son. The phrase, "follow your bliss", was very meaningful to me in that moment.
Being a newbie parent, those four weeks were the hardest time of my life. I didn’t even think my husband and I were going to make it past the first week. But that morning, it just felt like everything in my life was in perfect alignment with my career and personal life.
We purchased a home on a 30 year mortgage soon after and then we had our second child. Our little family grew and so did our responsibilities and obligations. So it was easier to put myself on auto pilot. Those moments of bliss became fewer and further between (and I didn't even realize it), popping up once in a while when we stepped away from the proverbial hamster wheel.
As time went on I felt unsettled. But I was so busy with life that I didn’t have time to stop and think about it. I mean, I had everything I could ever want and more, so there couldn’t possibly be anything wrong. I even felt guilty about it.
Fast forward 10 years. We had our third child. Something in me changed. Every unpleasant feeling that I pushed under my subconscious mind for the past 10 years amplified and I felt sad and depressed. It was like a light was turned on in a dark room so I could finally see all the excess junk I had accumulated.
The first thing I did was let go. I let go of material things in the beginning. Minimalism helped me to simplify my surroundings so that I didn’t physically feel like I was being choked or drowning in my stuff. It was satisfying for a while, but with 3 kids and 3 adults in the house, it was hard to keep the stuff under control. Plus, deep down, I knew it was more than just cutting down on stuff and simplifying. I knew I had to dig deep down, let go of intangible things and make significant changes in my life.
So I let go of trying to be in control all the time and over domineering in my own home. I let go of trying to look happy and positive all the time even when I didn't feel like it. I let go of striving to be perfect all the time because it's downright difficult. I let go of trying so hard to blend in all the time. I let go of looking for love outside of myself.
In order to have more moments of bliss, I had to love myself more. I used to think that I had to get everything I ever wanted in order to have a fulfilling life. I realized it needed to be more than just accumulating stuff and status. Love was the missing piece of the puzzle. When I decided to follow my bliss, my mental, emotional and spiritual health came into alignment. My life had a greater purpose and a clearer focus.
Learning how to love yourself will allow your cup to fill up and then have enough overflow to give to others.
WHAT IS BLISS EXACTLY?
There are many definitions of bliss. Here are just a handful. It is “perfect happiness and great joy; to reach a state of perfect happiness, typically so as to be oblivious of everything else; spiritual joy or heavenly rapture; to experience or produce ecstasy or intense pleasure or satisfaction from or as if from a hallucinogenic drug or a mystical experience”.
There is also a feeling of peace that is intrinsically built within this emotion. The trifecta of joy, happiness, and peace makes you feel uplifted and tranquil, like you’re floating as high as a cloud. At the same time, there is an absence of anger or fear and a knowing that you are exactly where you are supposed to be.
WHAT DOES IT FEEL LIKE TO FOLLOW YOUR BLISS?
Having bliss feels like joy, happiness and peace all wrapped up in one. For me, it was a feeling of complete peace and joy inside because I was exactly where I was supposed to be. It was also simply enjoying the moment. Not reminiscing about the past or planning for the future. But enjoying right here and right now.
It can also be something you are very passionate about. You get excited and light up every time you hear or think about it. It feels natural, like you were born to do it.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO FOLLOW YOUR BLISS?
Joseph Campbell once said, “If you do 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. Follow your bliss and don't be afraid, and doors will open where you didn't know they were going to be.”
That quote might be seem like impractical advice. To illustrate, at one point in my life, it was a dream of mine to become a concert pianist. My heart was in it, and I had long fingers, but my hands just never went past a certain level. I make this point because following your bliss is having the inner wisdom to learn things that are pleasurable to you. To follow a dream without fear and trust that everything will work out for your greater good. And to know where you should ultimately place your energy and focus that will give your life meaning.
WHERE DO I START?
Remember when you were a child? Following your bliss was so easy. You played with lots of different things and your imagination had no limits. There were certain things you gravitated towards because it just felt pleasurable. That is what following your bliss feels like.
Take some time to explore your mind. It does not have to take a lot of effort. It may be something that is already inside of you. An idea that keeps popping back into your mine. Or something you heard about that sparked a curiosity inside of you. You can choose to give it your attention right now.
WHAT DO I DO NEXT?
When I decided to follow my bliss, I admit that I was scared. I did not know where to begin or how to go about it. The thing that scared me the most was I did not know where my path would take me and I was going to be a big failure.
But then I asked myself, what do I have to lose if I don’t try? It felt like an even greater loss than not having tried at all. I had to trust that everything I needed to succeed was already built within me. If I needed help and guidance, someone or something will come along at the perfect time.
6 STEPS TO FOLLOW YOUR BLISS
Be willing to learn. Following your bliss will take work. If it was something you already know, then you don’t have to put in as much effort. But don’t fool yourself into thinking that it’s going to be smooth sailing. You will have frustrations and setbacks. Following your bliss will have ups and downs, just like anything in life worth achieving.
Overcome your fear. Fear is the four-letter word that stops us from changing and trying new things. It is natural and okay to feel this way. It is an emotion that is meant to protect you from danger and getting hurt. But if you don’t overcome it, it becomes a form of resistance. Ask yourself, what is the alternative if I don’t follow my dreams? What will happen if I don’t try at all? How will I know if I would have made it?
Celebrate your small wins. If you can overcome your fear and start to pursue your dreams, you will jump over the first difficult hurdles. You will may have a long race ahead of you, gratification will be delayed and you may feel lonely. You will use your creativity like you have never done before. And you will need help from others to help solve problems. So celebrate your small wins on a daily basis. This will keep your eye on the prize and keep the passion burning inside of you.
Action is a great antidote to fear. Just get started. The more you face your fears the less awful they will seem because your brain will dampen the feeling each time until it no longer scares you. Praise yourself aloud every time you win. When your brain hears positive feedback out loud, it feels pleasurable and is hardwired into your head. It will keep you motivated and make you more resilient when you have setbacks.
Don’t compare yourself to other people. This is one of the easiest and most dangerous things to do. When you compare yourself to someone else, especially if they are more successful than you, you will set yourself up for disappointment. In fact, you can turn it around. Use their success as inspiration. Know that you will reach that point too. Remember that you are on your own unique journey, not theirs.
Take small steps. Every journey starts with one step. If you go too fast and try to hurry things, you might get frustrated and you may even come to a standstill or step backward a little. Be patient, trust in the process and you will get there in due time. Take it one step at a time.
It is a big leap of faith to follow your bliss. You will not know where the path will lead you and that feels scary. Push that feeling aside and you will overcome one of the hardest obstacles. Stay with that feeling of joy and happiness, especially when you know that something is right for you. We are here to enjoy the time we have and learn to be the best version of ourselves. So this way, we can make a difference in our world in our own special way.