The picture to the right was taken after the game-winning, adult-beating goal for the kids’ team during a soccer playdate Griffin had recently with a boy who will be joining Griffin’s class this year. (Thanks in part to their shared victory, they’re now fast friends.)
I’m the “Parent Mentor” to help new families make a smooth transition to Rainbow Community School, and when I heard this boy also had an interest in soccer, Griffin (my “Student Ambassador”) and I made sure the first meeting happened on the playing field. As a follow up, we’ll host a Pokemon Go Party at our local park this weekend.
So I’m going to keep this note short because Griffin goes back to school in two weeks and it’s more important than ever that I spend less time at the computer and more time with him enjoying simple summer pleasures, things like swimming, and playing soccer, and eating fresh, local sweet corn. (By the way, seeing his face light up when I tell him we’re having corn for dinner is priceless because we don’t eat it any other time of year!)
With summer’s end fast approaching, I want to give you a strategy for feeling happy in record time—good for any time of the year!
There has never been any better advice than Joseph Campbell’s “Follow your bliss.”
As I’ve mentioned before, all events are neutral, but the stories we tell about them create the happiness or suffering they bring. So why not make things easier on ourselves? Today, let’s choose to take the direct route to happiness—and simply be happy.
Ah, yes. Be happy. And how do you do that? The only honest answer is to follow your bliss. In other words, make sure that you focus as much as you can on the things that please you.
I hear you asking: okay, but how is that going to help me? Well, if you keep that in mind, and you focus on what is pleasing to you, more pleasing things will come to you.
That is the Law of Attraction at its finest.
But if it’s that easy, why are so many people so unhappy so often? My theory may surprise you, but hear me out. The biggest barrier to happiness—the one thing that stops more people from following their bliss than anything else—is that people think they should enjoy certain things when they actually don’t.
There are many “fun” things that I don’t enjoy, like watching sports, or going to hear live music or shopping. I try to avoid them.
On the other hand, I love to do many things that other people dread doing—cleaning, de-cluttering and organizing, for example. I get a huge happiness boost when my mom lets me take over her closets or her garage.
It has taken me years to work all this out. Sometimes folks have no trouble following their bliss. They know exactly where it is and they keep it in sight at all times.
But sometimes—often—folks have been traveling away from their bliss for so long that following it—or even figuring out what direction to look in—seems impossible.
That’s too bad, because following your bliss doesn’t just make you happy. Following your bliss is the only way for you to get on the path toward a meaningful life.
Wherever you are on the “Bliss” scale—hot on the trail or lost in the briars—here’s a quiz that will help you get your bliss on your radar screen and keep it there for good.
Ask yourself the following:
- What lights you up more than anything? When do you feel filled with joy, or in the “flow”? (Or as my husband says, “What do you enjoy so much that it makes you forget to eat?”)
- As a child, what did you do in your free time? (The most important years are age nine to eleven–in other words, fourth through sixth grade.)
- When was the last time you laughed really hard? What were you doing? What was so funny?
(A note here about that last question: I find a lot that is humorous in daily life and I laugh quite a bit, but I really remember those big belly-cramping laughs because they are rare and so delightful.)
The answers to these questions will give you the clues that will get you back on track for following your bliss. If you still come up blank, pay attention over the next couple of days. After all, the best way to find something is to look for it, and I have no doubt that you’ll find clues if you just keep your eyes open.
Create a list of the times when you were most joyful, and remember as you do so that therein lies your guide to creating an effortless, happy and authentic life. The better you understand who you are and what you really love, the better able you are to make decisions—in work and leisure—that will make you happy.
Chances are that your bliss lies right in front of you—that there’s something you’re already doing that will make you happier, put you more in the flow, if you just do more of it. All you have to do is find it. Because once you do, it’s almost guaranteed that your world will transform around you, and you’ll see your familiar landscapes with new eyes.
A Super-Charged Shortcut:
Research shows that you really can fake happiness until you make it. Acting the way you want to feel is a super-charged shortcut to feeling good.
Smile at the barista making your coffee and then tell him you want to pay for the next person’s cup. Ask a coworker what really lights them up when they do it and then excitedly share what does it for you. Play Slap Jack with your child, or offer to play with a friend’s child.
Even if you don’t want to leave your home or interact with anyone, you can still increase your happiness quotient by using your body to influence how you feel. Hold a pen between your teeth (but not with your lips—that would have the opposite of the intended effect), raise your hands above your head, and sit up straight. Or just breathe as if you were in the middle of a hearty laugh (this is called Laughter Yoga).
Try it and you’ll see: If you change how you direct your thoughts and how you use your body, you will change your mindset and how you feel about your life in record time.