“When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that’s ananda“, sang Mary Pat Saturday morning at Namaste Yoga Studio. “There is no need for music, we will make our own music in our minds.”, she said with a hearty laugh and proceeded to explain that “ananda” is akin to bliss and there are many forms it can take.
When I think of bliss I first think of happiness, but somehow the feeling of bliss goes beyond pure happiness. For me it conjures thoughts of an enlightened state of happiness, peace, and joy. That somehow when you achieve bliss, you’ve achieved everything. You are complete. You are whole. Some say that bliss is a state of “extreme happiness”. But I would prefer a less “extreme” adjective, perhaps bliss is more “supreme happiness” or, even better, “serene happiness”.
The quote I chose to feature for this post, “Follow your bliss…”, I have always thought was just about career or purpose in life. But with that yoga class, I realize that it could be more than that. Can I follow bliss in a yoga class and become more open? Can I follow bliss by listening to music and feeling more emotions? Can I follow bliss by traveling, seeing other cultures and in turn valuing all humankind more? Absolutely! It applies to everything we do.
“Respond to every call that excites your spirit.” – Rumi
There is a yoga studio in Cleveland called “Inner Bliss” – how great is that! This weekend they sponsored a wonderful event at the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame called “Believe in CLE”. It is essentially an outdoor yoga class and community gathering for hundreds of people and done so on a perfect summer night. I wasn’t able to attend but I was truly there in spirit, and the sense of community I witnessed through their photos and social media posts connected me to the bliss they achieved that night.
I started this blog to explore my own joy of living (or “joie de vivre” as I love to hear and say in French) and those things that bring me to a state of happiness and bliss. I know that what is joy to me may not be joy to others, but I believe it is possible for everyone to achieve. I am so grateful for where I am and what I have that have allowed me to be open to these experiences. I hope that you, too, will keep following your bliss and achieve a serene, pure, supreme, and complete happiness that is yours alone.
Many people search their whole lives for an answer to the question, “what is the meaning of life”? Others just live and act on it naturally. Seeking happiness is certainly a part of that quest. But happiness can be elusive, at times dodging us when we seek it most and at other times appearing randomly – when we see a robin outside our window singing about the first signs of spring. I have come to find that happiness is not about some permanent state of existence. I believe it is found in those moments that, when bound together, make up a life – when we see life through the eyes of a child, when we discover a new place in the world, when nature screams its beauty at us. Perhaps all of these experiences, together, equal happiness. And the more moments like this that we recognize and find, the happier we are.
“It isn’t what you have, or who you are, or where you are, or what you are doing that makes you happy or unhappy. It is what you think about.” – Dale Carnegie
Is happiness then a state of mind? There are people in seemingly similar circumstances who have completely different outlooks on life and perhaps dissimilar “happiness quotients”. Of course, we are all individuals and we can’t know the unique experiences and attitudes internalized over the years. But might it be possible to change our minds by seeking actions and experiences that bring us joy? And those who are happier, have just found more of those moments? As Thich Nhat Hanh says “Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.”
“Inspire Happiness” – Yogi Tea
Maybe happiness isn’t about ourselves at all – I’m convinced that the strongest moments of happiness come from inspiring happiness in others, and that may be the ultimate path to Aristotle’s meaning. Inspiring happiness can be as simple as a kind word – encouragement. Or how about helping someone with a task they can’t do themselves, nurturing someone when they are sick, offering an ear to listen, sending a beautiful bouquet of flowers, remembering their favorites, creating something they enjoy, etc.
When we seek these moments – through gratitude, by creating experiences, by inspiring happiness in others – we change. And through that change comes… happiness.
When was the last time someone said a kind word to you? or the last time you said a kind word to someone else? I am constantly amazed by the power of words to heal or hurt. I know that my life has been completely changed by just a few words of encouragement scattered here and there at pivotal moments in my growth. Whether it was my parents, sister, friend, or teacher – a word or two of “hey, I really like that”, or “you have a real talent for that” can set your course and lead you into areas you would not have discovered on your own.
“Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.” Mother Teresa
In the corporate world, employees often receive “performance reviews” and ratings that focus on correction or “areas of improvement”. How much more valuable and effective would it be if the evaluations focused on encouragement only and ignored the rest? I would love to conduct an experiment, evaluate the impact of encouragement on employee morale. For when we believe in ourselves, we are motivated, we are inspired, we are productive.
“When you have once seen the glow of happiness on the face of a beloved person, you know that a man can have no vocation but to awaken the light on [all] the faces surrounding him.” Albert Camus
In the eyes of a child, it can be transformational to say the words, “I believe in you.” It can define a person and create a ripple effect on all who surround him. Mary Barnett Gilson says “…there are persons who seem to have overcome obstacles and by character and perseverance to have risen to the top. But we have no record of the numbers of able persons who fall by the wayside, persons who, with enough encouragement and opportunity, might make great contributions.”
Encouragement… Don’t be afraid to give it. Graciously receive it. And watch how your world blooms.