Ignorance is not Bliss

Chautuaqua Institute, NY Photo by Barbara Mattio

Life is often confusing, distracting, overwhelming and a draining rut of work and obligations. Everyone is so busy these days and trying to get so much done. They overwhelm us and at the end of a day or a week, you find yourself without satisfaction, joy or bliss.

As women, we have so many people around who without malice drain us of our energy and sometimes our sanity. You get in bed at the end of the night and look at the book that has been sitting on the nightstand for a month. You sigh and reach for the book and read a page before you are falling asleep.
It’s the weekend and a friend calls because she really needs to talk, so no sleeping in this Saturday.

We make promises that we will be somewhere, work at this charity, to shopping with a friend and we end up feeling guilty that there are twenty other things we should be doing. Do we feel composed and happy at the end of the day? Are you feeling joy or bliss? Probably not. Our days are filled with “bliss blockers.”

We have to learn balance and how to say no. Yes, we have obligations but every time we postpone something that is healthy for ourselves and do something out of duty for others, we block bliss.

I am enclosing a list of Bliss Blockers excerpted from Romancing the Ordinary.
These are soul snatching actions that hurt us and drain us of our bliss.

Wanting what you can’t have
Not wanting what you do have

Seeing the world as hostile
Believing life is hard
Over reliance on outside circumstances to initiate change
Believing money is the answer
Believing you are unlucky
Believing that things will never change for the better

Not eating well
Not exercising
Not listening to your body
Continuously finding fault with your body
Feeling unworthy of happiness, love, success
Not knowing who you are
Not know what you love
Not recognizing addictive behavior patterns or dependence
Workaholism in the name of getting ahead or staying on top
of things

Lack of humor
Inability to laugh at oneself
Shyness in social situations
Lack of spontaneity
Pretending that you’re more experienced than you are

Believing the world will fall apart if you’re not holding it together
Inability to ask for or receive help
Inability to be part of a time

Putting others down so you can feel superior
Not trusting your intuition
Not following your dreams
Believing other people’s second guesses are better than your first

Inability to relax
Making a promise you dread
Surrounding yourself with negativity
Remaining in toxic relationships
Lack of gratitude

Clearly these are not all of the things in life which can block bliss. The trick is to find what are your blockers and to make efforts to clear them out of your life. I think this also goes to being authentic. Self-examination is an activity we need to use at least once or twice a year to understand ourselves and to make changes we need to bring us to a place of love, joy and bliss.

“The cure for anything is saltwater, sweat, tears or the sea.”
—-Isak Dinesen

Galveston Island, Tx; Photo by Barbara Mattio

Extraordinary Life

“The only difference between an extraordinary life and an ordinary one is the extraordinary pleasures you find in ordinary things.”
——Veronique Vienne

History has given us a parade of saints, seers, poets and philosophers who have instructed us to embrace “bliss” here in this life and not to wait until heaven. In America, Joseph Campbell began to teach us about bliss. He was followed by Bill Moyer’s, The Power of Myth. “If you follow your bliss, you put yourself on a kind of tract that has been there the whole while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living.”

We experience happiness when something outside of the regular dreary, repetitive routine of our everyday lives. Something external from us happens to shake us up and brings a feeling of gladness or happiness. It could be buying a new house, free tickets to a play, an invitation to a major league baseball game. If something happens to change the event we are upset and not happy any longer. The happiness came from an external source.

Bliss is not external. It comes from within and it doesn’t involve other people or events or times in our lives. You can recognize it when you experience joy, unusual sustained happiness or the awareness of the sensuous in the ordinary.

An ordinary life is something that conjures up images of drudgery and boredom and repetitive endless actions. As a child, I knew I didn’t just want to exist or survive. This was my concept of ordinary. But you can find the extraordinary in life with simple things. One very important aspect is to live in the moment. Allow yourself the pleasures of life. Smell the fragrance in the flowers even if they still need weeding. Stand for two minutes and find the dragon in the clouds. Put a pot of water on to boil filled with your favorite spices and allow yourself to enjoy the aroma all day long.

Set the table with special china once in a while to make the roast beef and steamed vegetables feel like you are enjoying Beef Wellington in an expensive restaurant.

Following your bliss can take you to a new job that you never expected to get or to finding a new friend who really “gets you.” Your bliss can be something that you can’t even imagine right now but the inner voice takes you to a place that just leaves you joyful.Your bliss can also take you to your backyard where you can have the most restful, relaxing day you have had in months. An afternoon lying on a chaise lounge in the sun, sipping lemonade and reading the book you have been trying to find time for, This can bring you sheer bliss and contentment.

Life can be filled with bliss especially when we listen to our inner selves. It is the incandescent in your life. It is the bandage which covers the wounds we receive in life and heals the wounds more quickly.

Bliss is personal and private like prayer. Women have bliss triggers and blockers. Mine is walking on a beach in the sunset. Yours might be mint chocolate ice cream. I feel bliss eating fresh veggies and fruit from a farmer’s market. Your bliss can be just taking a day trip and visiting your childhood home. That feeling you get when it feels as if you can’t stop smiling and are filled with sunshine.

This bliss is what can turn your ordinary life into an extraordinary one. Blogging is one of the things that makes my life extraordinary. Visiting an art museum to see a new visiting exhibit thrills me and I am experiencing bliss. I challenge you to start to take the ordinary in your life and make it extraordinary. And know that Divinity is well pleased. We are here to experience this gift called life.

Holden Beach, NC Photo by Barbara Mattio

Holden Beach, NC Photo by Barbara Mattio