If you’ve been reading here, you know we’ve recently moved a bit out of town. I’m exploring new roads to and from town, going up and down hills and venturing on roads that, to my surprise, I’ve never been on despite having lived in the area for more than 34 years.
On one of my drives, I discovered a road called Bliss Road. As soon as I saw the sign, I smiled. How lovely it would be to live on Bliss Road, I thought. I passed this road a few times and recently took a right turn to drive on it.
As I drove down Bliss Road, I took in the sprawling family farms, surrounding hills, and valleys, some of them with livestock grazing in the fields. As I drove, my mind wandered along with the hills. I wondered just how lovely it would be if only it were as easy as making a quick right-hand turn, a quick choice, to find ourselves on our own road to bliss. Wouldn’t it be amazing if it were only as easy as this to discover how we can navigate our lives to our own Bliss Road.
This morning that is my thought exactly.
We have a choice.
To choose to find our way to our bliss.
What makes us happy – or not? Do we make a conscious choice that supports us being kind to ourselves and others even if it might “cost” us something (time, money, effort)? Do we stop long enough to “smell the proverbial roses?”
It appears that taking the road to bliss isn’t easy. I think part of the difficulty lies in the question – Do we even know what bliss is to us?
I remember 25 years ago when I was an entrepreneur growing my PR agency while also being a wife and mom to very young children. I was super stressed and just not happy.
To support me, my husband Rich offered to take charge of the kids one Saturday and told me to “go do something fun — just for you.” I gladly jumped at the chance to have a whole day to myself. I remember the anticipation of the joy and happiness I’d feel just being alone for a few hours. I was like a kid anticipating what Christmas morning would bring!
I thanked Rich, kissed the kids, and got in my car (Correction: climbed into my battered minivan littered with toys and sticky car seats), fueled by visions of returning happy and recharged. This was going to be a great day).
It didn’t turn out that way.
Instead of spending hours doing what makes me happy, I spent almost the entire day in a confused stressful state of indecision.
The majority of my precious time alone was spent in a gut-wrenching spiral of “deciding” what to do with said precious time. I kept changing my mind over and over and over again.
At first, I said to myself – I’ll head to the mall and treat myself to something nice—just me. Once I turned the minivan in the direction of the mall – it wasn’t long before I decided I didn’t want to do that. What? Spend my precious time shopping in a crowded mall. No way. So, I turned around and decided to hang out near the lake; that was what I really needed. To watch the waves and sit. Maybe I’d grab a coffee. So, I started to go there and turned around again and again until I pulled off to the side of the road and wept.
While my lack of sleep and fatigue undoubtedly contributed to this situation, the truth was that I had no idea what would make me happy. I had no idea what I wanted.
Can you relate?
I was like Sr. Galahad of Camelot in the Bridge of Death scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
He approaches a troll guarding the bridge he must cross to continue his holy quest for The Grail. He meets the troll and must answer three questions. The troll’s final question is, “What is your favorite color?”. He doesn’t know for sure and is cast off the bridge into the fiery death pit.
When we are in a state so far removed from who we are and what we want, there is no way we know what will make us happy. And we can’t expect others to know either.
We must be our own GPS on our road to bliss.
As Joseph Campbell said, “To find your own way is to follow your bliss. Follow your bliss, and the universe will open doors where there were only walls.”
What walls are up for you? Perhaps you don’t know what you are doing to block your path to happiness.
That is OK. You can step back and unravel this so you can find out!
Slowing things down will help. I bet you may have already experienced this.
A friend, and a fellow writer, recently reminded me that many of us had rediscovered our ability to go S L O W er in our lives – thanks in no small part from our personal experiences from the “Great Pause,” aka The Pandemic. She wondered if our quest for bliss may be fueling many of us to step off the “hamster wheel” of life for a bit – seeking more of what makes us happy, safe, and peaceful.
I was thinking of this as I drove up and down the hills on the actual Bliss Road; I was reminded of the “walls” Joseph Campbell was referring to that we have to face and conquer in order to find what makes us happy – bringing us closer to blissful experiences. I can tell you that despite the challenges along the way – I have found the effort well worth it.
If you are determined to rediscover what makes you — YOU … You can slowly rediscover what fills you and your life with peace, delight, jolliness, cheer, and laughter. Yes, it may seem daunting, but you can reorient yourself to find your Bliss Road.
Here are a few helpful hints:
• Take a breath. Stop for a few moments and be with yourself. Breathe and be. Just taking a breath and slowing down for a moment can reduce stress and give you a better chance of finding what is blissful at that moment. Bliss may be there – you may be too busy to recognize it. (If you aren’t sure what to do – try Box Breathing or a similar simple breathing exercise. Google it – I’m sure you’ll find some helpful videos.)
• Take notice. Notice when you are happy and joyful. What puts a smile on your face or makes you smile on the inside? Who are you with? Where are you? What is happening? Those are clues to finding your bliss. Make a note of these and invite these situations to happen more often in your life.
• Just do it. Be like Nike and just do it. Find what makes others happy and try it out. You never know if it might make you happy too!
• Fake it. Fake it till you make it. Put a smile on your face even if you don’t – and especially if you don’t – feel like it. That’s right. I dare you to stop reading and put the biggest grin on your face right now. Did you try it? I find that when I do, I can’t help but feel a bit lighter and perhaps even happier.
• Happy by Association. Have you ever not been in the laughing mood yet found yourself around others amid a giggle fit, and before long, you find yourself tee-heeing along with them? Joy and happiness are contagious. If you aren’t happy – find others who are and hang out with them. It could rub off on you!
• Think back. Think back to when you felt the most joy or were very happy. You can use those times to feel that joy right now. Close your eyes, visualize those moments, and relive them as if they were happening now. Feel what you were feeling then. Your body will remember and bring you back to that feeling. You can also use those memories to recreate similar situations in your future to increase the possibility that they may evoke similar positive feelings for you now.
Each time I drive past the sign for Bliss Road I find that I’m smiling! I may take that route home more often. I hope you find your way to your own Bliss Road too.