Find your bliss with our April 12 Months of Wellness series. Get rid of mental clutter, try something new, find a role model, and create a vision board.
Although Canadians seem to be a happy bunch—92 percent reported in 2011 to be either satisfied or very satisfied with their lives—many of these people still have that niggling feeling that something is missing. Happy or not, we have creative tips for you to find your bliss.
Searching for bliss
In the fourth installment of our 12 Months of Wellness series, we explore personal bliss. And despite what you might be thinking, finding your bliss doesn’t have to include peyote and a disorienting trek across the desert floor. All you need are a few tools, a few friends, and a true desire to be happy.
Eoin Finn is an experienced registered yoga teacher and founder of the Blissology Project. He is a self-proclaimed blissologist, and often uses bliss as an acronym, meaning Beautiful Living is Super Simple. He describes bliss as “our natural state. It is an engagement in the life process, a sense of enthusiasm and wonder.”
Although we all have this bliss inside of us, it can be difficult to bring it to the surface. Finn says, “It gets covered up by our tension, worries, and dwelling on the past. We easily identify with these states of being and forget about the deep bliss inside each of us.”
This month, we focus on digging deep to find that bliss, with some simple strategies that anyone can employ. So jump in!
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Week 1: March 31 to April 6 – Start with a clean slate
Just as it’s a whole lot easier to find what you need when your home is clean and nicely organized, so is your bliss easier to find when you’ve cleared out all the mental clutter.
Finn suggests yoga as a means of clearing out the mind, as “the body and mind are so intimately connected.” Hatha yoga may be particularly helpful, as it releases “issues in your tissues,” as Finn puts it.
He explains further: “When we have mental clutter or tension in our minds, our bodies feel tight and restricted—those issues enter our tissues.” Hatha yoga, he says, allows the body to relax, and the mind follows soon after.
Check out local yoga studios and community centres for hatha yoga in your area, or pick up a hatha yoga DVD from your local library—and get cleaning!
Week 2: April 7 to 13 – Discover your talents
A good place to start in finding your bliss is to figure out what you excel at. Are you a fearless baker, a curious poet, a masterful knitter? Still nothing? The following exercises might help.
Funny as it is, you may be too close to yourself to recognize your own strengths and talents. Ask close friends and family members what they think you excel at, and consider their suggestions with an open mind.
Think back to your childhood
As children we had hours upon hours to simply play and do what we loved. Were you always drawing pictures for your family when you were younger? Or perhaps you recall that year your mom put you in trampoline classes, and you never wanted to stop?
Whatever it was that filled your time as a child, it may still be a source of joy for you today. Take some time and jot down your favourite childhood activities, remembering what you loved about them so much, and give them a shot today.
Try something new
You may not have found your bliss because you’ve yet to come across it. You don’t have to stick with what you know—in fact, trying something new might be the key to unlocking your bliss. Consider learning how to speak a new language or play a musical instrument.
As an added bonus, learning something new may keep your brain sharp. A recent study followed 11 English-speaking participants as they participated in a nine-month intensive course in written and spoken Chinese. Compared to those not learning a language, the participants learning Chinese had significant reorganization of white matter in their brains, particularly in the frontal lobe.
Week 3: April 14 to 20 – Mentor up
The support of a mentor can be invaluable to your success. Benefits include
Where do you look?
If finding your bliss means changing careers, check out professional organizations in the field you are hoping to get into, as many offer mentorship programs.
Alternatively, you can seek out people whom you genuinely admire. Perhaps you want to become a yoga instructor: you could approach your favourite instructor at the studio where you practise. Or you want to delve deeper into photography: you could seek out a local photographer whose work you admire.
Developing a relationship
Asking, “Will you be my mentor?” might not be the best approach, as this can give a formal feel to the relationship, and may imply a lot of work on the mentor’s part. Rather, ask your potential mentor for advice regarding one specific challenge or action, and gauge the response you get. Does she seem open, willing to help, and interested? If so, follow up with her at a later date to let her know your progress, and see where the relationship goes from there.
You should probably consider doing something for your mentor in return, perhaps offering a service for which you have expertise. This shows your mentor that you are invested in the relationship and you understand its two-way nature.
Week 4: April 21 to 27 – Make it visual
Vision boards are unique in that they provide a dynamic visual representation of the life you want to live. Nash Cajee, owner of Beach Yoga & Wellness in Port Coquitlam, BC, has been using vision boards for more than 20 years. She’s held several successful vision board workshops at the studio, and says that “everyone can benefit from a vision board.”
To start, Cajee says to ask yourself: “What do I really, really want? What am I passionate about? If there was absolutely no way I could fail, what would I want?” She suggests breaking it down further into categories such as wealth, health, relationships, career, contributions, and so on.
After you’ve considered these questions, Cajee says to find “powerful images, quotes, and sayings from magazines, books, brochures, photographs, the internet, and so on.” Once you’ve carefully cut your images out and set them aside, you can start planning the layout of your vision board.
Cajee offers two strategies: grouping the images according to category, or dedicating a whole vision board to a single goal. However, she also reminds us that “there is no wrong way to create your vision board,” so essentially it’s best to do what feels right to you.
Once Cajee has completed her vision board, she likes to frame it. Then she places it in her home where she will see it at least once a day. Seeing your vision board daily will help to focus your attention on what matters most to you, which will help to shape the choices you make daily, leading you to that life you created on paper.
Vision board supplies
To make your inspirational vision board, make sure you have the following supplies on hand:
Week 5: April 28 to May 4 – Make it happen
So, you’ve cleared out the mental clutter, taken stock of your skills and talents, found some inspirational people, and created a visual representation of your future blissful life. Now what? Now it’s time to take what you’ve learned and make your dreams a reality—but not without some strategic planning.
You’ve heard us suggest in previous 12 Months of Wellness articles to make SMART goals—that is, goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely. Take a look at your vision board and write down the goals that are hiding within it. There may be one giant goal, but consider the smaller goals too. By breaking down the big goals into several smaller ones, you will give yourself a better chance of succeeding.
For example, perhaps your vision board includes a picture of someone mountain biking in Utah. If this is your eventual goal then figure out what other goals you need to achieve in order to make that happen.
Do you need to get better at mountain biking? Do you need to purchase a new bike? Do you need to save up for flight and accommodations? Do you need to research the best places to bike in Utah? Each of these goals individually is much easier to digest than the bigger goal of riding in Utah, so create a timeline with each of these goals on it and stick to it.
Bliss doesn’t have to be something only the lucky ones have. You can find your bliss too; with these strategies you’ll be well on your way.
Find Your Bliss giveaway
Everyone has a calling, but for some it can be challenging to figure out what that calling is. Get started on the path to finding your happy place with our Find Your Bliss giveaway. To see what’s included and to enter for your chance to win, visit alive.com/contests.