Bliss is a state of mind that is tantalizingly impermanent and also out of reach for many women. Bliss has the amazing ability to slip in and out of grasp like a slippery fish living in deeply muddied waters, and sometimes it’s close enough to touch but we fear that the slightest movement will scare it away forever. I’ve learned that bliss will not disappear if I try to grab hold of it, but I do need to remember where to look for it.
Have I found bliss? I can’t say that I have, but it crosses my path every once in a while. I know now, more than ever, where it hides and why it can be so elusive.
I went through a rough patch several years ago. When I think back, it seems as though my mind had a cartoon cloud drawn over it. I know now that I wasn’t getting enough rest. Late nights, broken sleep and early mornings were starting to take their toll, and life with two children wasn’t always a ray of sunshine. I decided I needed to help myself. Every night I wrote one sentence in a special leather-bound journal. My criteria was pretty simple: I had to write one good thing that happened that day. But sometimes this simple act of jotting down five or six words wasn’t so simple at all. Some nights I’d find myself lying in bed with pen in hand and my journal on my lap, really struggling to find one thing I could immortalize on paper. But somehow I always managed to find one, even if it was something as unassuming as a cup of hot coffee or a smile from a stranger. Sometimes, on a bad day, that’s the best I could find. But at least it was something.
During this time, I never flipped back to see what I’d written in my journal. It took months before it occurred to me that I could do this, and when I did, I had a revelation: Every single day really did have at least one good thing about it. And if this were true for past days, it would be true for days to come as well.
One day, I didn’t need my journal anymore—the cloud had lifted—and I learned that there is always something worth celebrating every day, no matter how small.
When bliss starts to slip away, I’ve learned that the first thing I need to do is heal myself. I write this as a mother, and I know first-hand that we often put ourselves last. We need to remember to take care of ourselves, sleep when we can and stay healthy. How can we be happy if our bodies are not?
The second thing I have learned is to recognize those blissful moments and be mindful of them. If we can recognize them, we are more likely to find others. I’ve made a concerted effort to identify them because moments of true bliss are rare. I take photos and keep track of them on my blog. It may sound strange that I’m cataloguing my blissful moments in some kind of virtual archive, but as I write this, I realize that it harkens back to my old journal. Same as before, I love having that reference available to me, whether I need it or not. When I look back at my collection, it reminds me that there are many blissful moments out there ready to be enjoyed, absorbed and treasured. It’s okay to hoard these moments and keep them close. They are fuel.
An interesting thing happened when I recently looked back on my collection. I realized that many of my moments are shared with family and connected to the outdoors: yellow maple leaves sparkling in the sunlight, achingly blue skies, golden fields, tall trees, fresh raspberries from our garden. Now that I know them, I am able to find my blissful moments more easily and even construct my own when I really need one.
I’m happy that I’m learning how to find my bliss again—or perhaps my bliss is finding me?
See more from Andrea on her blog quietfish.com.