I spend a lot of time with my niece and nephew. My niece Saskia is two, and we call her ‘Sis’ or ‘Sissy’. Her brother Jagger turned six this year and we call him ‘Jags’ or ‘Jaggerbombs’. They’re the best (obviously) but looking after kids (even just as Auntie Bex) is exhausting.
It’s the best kind of exhausting though, because these kids have so much energy, so much love to give, they’re just so blissful. They’re so happy and blissful with the mundaneness that is everyday.
They’ve always been this way. Nothing revolutionary has happened to these young children to bring them such an appreciation for the everyday. And they don’t seem to be outliers; most kids are generally happy (so long as they’re receiving the love and care that a young child requires). The fact that these kids have always just been content leads me to believe that we’re all born with this ‘bliss’.
So why aren’t we all living blissfully now?
Think about your happiest, fondest, most blissful memory as a child. Where did that feeling go? And how can you get it back? We (you) have to go back to where you lost it. Where perhaps it was taken from you.
Unfortunately you’re going to have to do the most disgusting emotional autopsy- some people like to call this soul searching.
I personally find that to be sugar coated and misleading. I’ll use myself as an example.
When I was a child until I was about sixteen, everything was my favourite thing — much like Sissy and Jags. I loved everything about my little life from my dance training and going to school, to listening to my favourite playlist when I got ready in the morning. I would wake up with happy little butterflies in my tummy for the most mundane of days.
That all stopped in eleventh grade. For various reasons including but not limited to a traumatic motor vehicle accident, an unexpected death, and the horrific reality of infidelity absolutely tears your family to shreds. I developed a combination of anorexia nervosa, which in later years morphed into a diagnosis of binge/ purge disorder/ bulimia nervosa.
The lust for life that I had once possessed was drawn out of me bit by bit.
I appeared OK for a long time, but to quote Julie S. LaLonde, “Resilience is futile”. It was from August- December of 2018 that I lost 60 pounds in just five months. Yes I lost weight, but that weight was made up of everything that added any and all value to my life — my family, friends, dance, school, musical theatre, socialization, spontaneity, holidays, celebrations, freedom … my bliss.
My eating disorder took away my pretty little pink tinted glasses that I used to (figuratively) put on every morning and drained all of the colour from my day.
So we’ve lost our bliss by means of mental illness, loss, heartbreak, whatever it may be. But how do we get it back? Do you remember what it was like to be nine years old? Do you remember how it felt to be you, before you were robbed of your bliss? Return to that. Easier said than done, yes, but let me give you a starting point.
Once a week, once every two weeks, live out your perfect nine year old day. Return to that alignment that you felt within yourself. Cook your favourite foods, play your sport, nerd out at the science museum for the day. Are you thirty years old geeking out at the dinosaur exhibit for hours on end? GOOD! Do everything that peaks your interests, narrow down what sets your soul on fire. Others won’t understand, and they shouldn’t. You’re not doing these things for them, you’re doing them for you. You live your life for others six days a week — get selfish for 24 hours.
With this in mind, I thought it would only be appropriate to share my perfect nine year old day:
- Dance class.
- Acrobatics (tumbling, gymnastics, etc).
- Ice cream or popsicles.
- Playing on a beach or in a creek and finding cool rocks to put in my pocket so I can show someone my cool rocks later.
- Eating outside — NOT on a table. On the grass or on a blanket with my shoes off.
- Digging a huge hole at the beach.
- Falling asleep watching Harry Potter.
As you rediscover the things that once made you happy, they lead you to new interests and new passions. It’s a beautiful cycle. My love for acrobatics and gymnastics as a child has led me to a passion for yoga and the gym. My love for ice cream and sweets has launched me into the world of baking as a side hustle and for charity.
So how does this ‘perfect nine year old day’ translate to real life? Integration. Eventually, you won’t have just one day a week where you do what you like. You take bits and pieces from this ideal day and sprinkle them into the mundane everyday. You create a day, a week, a month, a life that you’re passionate about, and see where it takes you.
Suddenly, my pink tinted glasses are polished and ready on my nightstand. I wake up and the hue on my day is turned up to 110%. How did I find my bliss? I didn’t find it. I returned to it.