On the onset the word bliss can be perceived as an intimidating word, a lofty concept like euphoria or ecstasy - the ultimate life goal but one that is likely not attainable in our day-to-day lives.
The way I think of it is that it’s about inserting moments of bliss throughout the day. This approach to life is more achievable than being in a cloud nine state of mind that is more aspirational yet unrealistic.
I witness bliss in the small, joyful moments. A flock of birds on a wire gets me excited. Hearing the unison of children’s laughter in the background during recess time makes me smile. The colour and shape of the moon on those dark nights makes me thoughtful. Serendipitous encounters when someone from one area of your life collides with another person you know gives me goosebumps, leaving me awestruck.
While bliss is a state of mind, it’s really about conscious living, being fully present, aware of your surroundings, looking into someone’s eyes in conversation, freely dancing or singing out loud fully immersed in a song. Ultimately, it’s about paying attention.
I’ve been extensively vocal and public about my personal grief journey after losing my beloved husband in 2020. I’ve even written about it in a children’s book called The Stars That Shine For You that approaches the often taboo topic of loss, death and grief in a child-friendly way. Through my profound loss, I’ve seen the depth of misery and heartbreak but also risen through it with deep scars permanently etched on me. I’ve realized that in grief both pain and joy can co-exist. That it is possible to cry in one moment and laugh out loud the next. That you can poke fun and be silly even in moments of crisis and excruciating despair. That life moves on even when you don’t want to-the sun still rises every day and the flowers eventually bloom. I’ve learned through hardship that though there will always be a big hole in the center there is a garden to attend to that surrounds that hole. Seeds that need to be nurtured, cared for, and loved. Those seeds represent the present moment.
In order to tend to our seeds, we all need to pay more attention and that is difficult to do. There are so many distractions, competing tasks and priorities that come to us all at once. I’m often overwhelmed with my daily to-do lists but I try hard to gather myself together, put the phone away and ensure I’ve inserted a fun thing, a restful self-care thing, on my daily list. By adding it there, the list often gets longer but recognize that my seeds need to get as much attention as my work and home life responsibilities. Without it visible on the list, it’s something that gets put off, feels time-consuming and often overwhelming.
By making those fun and joyful moments a priority and living my life with purpose, I’m a better mother, daughter, sister, friend, colleague and overall human being. I am able to give more to others around me by giving to myself these special fleeting moments that sometimes are very short but if you add them all up, they add quality to my life.
My husband, Aly, was a fierce believer in making the best of each moment even before his illness-perhaps on some level he knew his time on earth would be cut short, so he made his life matter and prioritized quality time with me, our kids, family and his passion for playing as much golf as possible. He was the inventor of YOLO before it was a thing, a dedicated weekend warrior who believed in getting your chores on a daily basis so you could enjoy life to the fullest. His motto: work hard, play harder.
My advice is to live like Aly and treat your calendar, your precious time, as the treasure it is. Pay attention to it, and block off timeslots for what is important to you-what can provide you moments of bliss.
Walk through crunchy fall leaves. Study your dogs to see how fully they live their lives. Get quiet and be still in whatever meditative process you can incorporate into your life. For some that may mean running, yoga class, prayer, even reading. Savour your food. Fawn over sunsets. Meet a friend of coffee and get giddy over the small things. Hold a baby.
There are so many ways of paying more attention to all the beautiful things around us. Bliss is really little sparks of joy sprinkled throughout your day, glimmers of hope.