How to find your bliss


Finding one’s bliss. Such an fuzzy, amoebalike concept. So New Age. And yet, it captures an essence of something that words like “happiness” and “joy” don’t. It implies a pursuit of something meaningful; something meant for you alone. It is more ethereal and less rational than a goal.

A few years ago, when a friend and I found ourselves in a restless, discontented state, we made a pact to find our bliss—the thing that we alone were meant to do. We each had clearly identified this bliss: hers was to find a soul-mate; mine looked…something like what I’m doing now. But reaching our respective blisses involved some faith and not a few hurdles.

We each wondered if what we wanted were possible. And if we found it, would it be what we’d hoped and worked so hard for? And what if we didn’t find it? Would we be content to settle for something else and let the dream die?

So, we set upon our blissquest, taking the steps that seemed to make sense at the time. (The Quakers would call it following the way that opens.) Nothing happened. She met a number of less-than-matey souls, and my house languished on the market for two years. Despite the lack of encouragement from the universe, I searched mightily and finally bought a trailer. It remained parked in a lonely corner of a dealership in Vermont—waiting.

Then, out of nowhere, in the middle of the economic meltdown, my house sold. Greenbacks were not flowing here; I was just able to sell at a loss I could stomach. Within months, I’d wrapped up my work, bought a tow vehicle, picked up my trailer, and hit the road.

Have I found my bliss? Yes.

Has it been blissful? Well, that’s the interesting part. In many ways it’s been harder and more challenging than I expected. And in many ways I’m just as temperamentally suited to live in a little bungalow in small town America baking apple pie as I am to be trundling solo all over North America in a tiny trailer. But this life, this kind of travel been every bit as compelling and fulfilling as I’d hoped. This is no walk in the park, folks, but it’s quite a ride, and it truly is my bliss.

And my friend?

She found her bliss, too. Last summer during a trip to Europe, she sat by the Adriatic Sea one day, gazing into its emerald green water, and she thought of her home near the beautiful Lake Michigan shore, and she thought of the man she had met a few months earlier. “Suddenly, I realized that everything I had been seeking was right in front of me. It was all there,” she said. “All I had to do was reach out and claim it.”

So, how does one find bliss? I’m no expert, but here’s my short list:

  • Identify what you want. Articulate it. Speak it. This isn’t easy, but the more specific you are, the easier your personal bliss will be to recognize when it comes.
  • Work toward it. Lay the foundation. Buy the Bliss for Dummies guide. Do you need more education? Do you need certain skills? Do you need to put a “For Sale” sign in your front yard?
  • Do not worry and do not strive. Anxiety is hard to avoid, but make this bit of wisdom from the coffeehouse guy (check out the link) your mantra.
  • Believe. Finding your bliss is as much a spiritual journey as anything else, so pay attention along the way. Believing, not worrying, is a step in a good direction.
  • Recognize it. Bliss may come in unexpected ways and at a time you least expect. It’s not an “on demand” product, and it may take a certain type of vision to recognize, so keep the eyes of your heart open. And be patient.

And finally, you won’t find bliss in money or any material thing, so don’t even think about asking.


6 Responses to How to find your bliss

  1. Davis 5 November, 2011 at 9:25 pm #

    My problem with bliss — which I have now and then encountered — is that it never lasts.

    • Kate 5 November, 2011 at 11:08 pm #

      A couple of thoughts here: I neglected to mention that I think bliss changes at different points in life. Bliss at 22 probably looks different than at 45 or 70. So, it’s an evolution and maybe a maturation process.
      But as I define bliss–that which you are meant to do, that which makes you deeply content and fulfilled or in which you find meaning–it may be outgrown, but it lasts beyond the moment.
      It’s not that burst of joy or delight, not that mountaintop experience that inevitably fades.
      And as I said, bliss ain’t always easy. It doesn’t always feel good. It’s just that it’s what you’ve been given to do.

  2. Lois 5 November, 2011 at 5:42 pm #

    Real wisdom here. It’s that “recognize it” part that’s a challenge every day. Thanks for this, Kate!

    • Kate 5 November, 2011 at 10:56 pm #

      Honestly, I think the paying attention part is hardest–and the believing part. (I’m a big doubter–see comment below.) But bliss is slippery in all its aspects.

  3. Erik 5 November, 2011 at 5:15 pm #

    I think I might be closer if I stopped worrying about things I can not control. My job forces me to spend a lot of time considering worst case scenarios, that doesn’t help.

    • Kate 5 November, 2011 at 5:42 pm #

      I haven’t stopped worrying, either. I’ll let you know if I find a cure for that. But wow! What a bummer of a job! I guess there’s a need for preparedness, but too bad you have to be the one to do it. Thanks for taking it on the chin for the rest of us, Erik.