Re-shaping the Quest for Bliss
It’s been years since I closed the blog, but the name is still relevant. I hashtag it on Instagram and other places #theblissquest. People still check in with me to let me know which posts tickled them most. It was hard to let theblissquest.com go, but a redefinition was and is in order. Not just for my work and author platform, but for the evolving equation that is true joy.
I think the reason I struggled with it for so long is because, I don’t feel like it’s a quest anymore. Bliss is in hand, and therefore not a hunt with a mysterious package at the end of the journey waiting to be discovered and unwrapped. Long ago I blogged that bliss was in fact the process of searching, the journey, a constant unveiling--and yet even that definition seems too small anymore.
I found bliss. Questing is part of the moving target that plays into the equation, but it’s only a fraction of the code that seems to elude so many people, even myself sometimes. After a decade of blogging about the quest for bliss, it finally seems like the right time to start sharing out the data, tricks, hacks, and gems I discovered on the long journey.
So in an effort to define this change of definition, of purpose, and of brand I’ve been brainstorming my concepts of bliss = sustained well-being, and happiness.
What does that mean to me personally?
These are abstract in concept, I know. I’ll drill down in a minute, but I wanted to mention a meeting I had with a friend who shared her list of happiness keys and they were absolutely different than my own. I don’t think one thing on either of our lists matched. Personal happiness is, well, personal. It’s so individualized.
So I won’t be taking the platform of “This will make you happy”, what I will suggest is, “This is what I do – I challenge you to find your own path to bliss.”
This re-invention of the process comes well-timed to other popular language on the market. Marie Kondo is huge right now. I remember when her book came out years ago and my friends were all beaming over it. It didn’t catch with me then, because I wasn’t in a place where material things were weighing me down or holding up my joy factor. BUT recently I’ve come to see the beautiful parallel to the Marie Kondo way in letting go of that which does not spark joy—in relationships, romance, habits, ideas, and so on. The message she relays works on non-material clutter as well.
Suddenly, I was a convert. For the last five years I’d been doing precisely that, letting go of all the non-material patterns that don’t spark joy-but I didn’t have a name for it. I was just calling it a life-cleanse. A rebirth.
There’s a powerful emotional release, a spiritual aphrodisiac-if you will, when you cut ties to things like: fear, shame, abusive relationships, negative people, negative cycles, complaining, indulging complainers, can’ts, unhealthy habits, toxic jobs, excuses, and other limiting thoughts, language, and dialog.
It’s like magic. Taking a cue from Kondo, holding the fear and saying “thank you” before letting it go, signals that its time of relevance in your life is at an end. When you mean it, feel it, and really let it go…you have planted magic beans, from which a giant stalk will grow—then you’ll get a chance to test that new courage and climb.
So, here I am on the verge of a new image release, wondering how to put the word out there in ways that are helpful, uplifting, and encouraging. Landing on a new brand that incorporates all my passions is, well, challenging. #challengeaccepted
With a fantasy fiction series, The Pillars of Dawn in progress (book three out soon!), an erotica series in the works under a pen name, and a series of creativity workbooks and essays in the queue—there’s a lot to squeeze in under one brand.
Ultimately, my written works, and my lifestyle choices all have one thing in common. The quest for bliss, for self-expression, happiness and health. The desire for a happy expansive life, and the eagerness to share out what I’ve learned.
I expect it will be a bit of a process with some evolution, but for now I offer you a map to Bliss via the #blissbubblechallenge (Video above)
After years of writing TheBlissQuest, I developed this version of my blissbubble, which I tracked in journals and notes.
Everyone’s bliss bubble diagram will look a little different. But this is generally where I track my progress. Some categories have overlap, and or could be stuffed into different sections. Some people’s bubbles might only be body/mind/spirit.
I work with these categories because they are familiar to me, personally. I’ve been using this method for years, hence the multiple categories. I know the second I drop one, or slack in that area, the bliss bubble re-distributes weight elsewhere to compensate and it’s only a matter of time before things are all out of whack on my joy ride. No one likes a wobble in their top speed.
#Blissbubble is my wholistic tracking device. I made up my categories, but you can make up your own. Then I built the bubble map on MS Word in five minutes with a smart art insert. You can also use a sketch book, note pad or cocktail napkin to whip up a #blissbubble to check in with yourself.
Yours doesn’t need to be as complex as mine, of course. Start small. Pick a few categories you want to measure and focus on. Try this smaller one for the #blissbubblechallenge
The hardest parts of the bliss map are defining your categories if you don’t already know what makes you happy. The best way to find out, is to ask yourself what makes you unhappy, angry, or vulnerable. If disorder or poor scheduling makes you anxious or angry – a key point to your bliss may be order and organization. Could that fall under mental/emotional health? Or physical needs? It’s up to you.
Finding your pockets is the journey and exploration. Some of which might be uncomfortable, but that’s the point of the exercise. After you do the categories, the rest is so much easier.
When I’m struggling, or out of balance, need perspective or feel overwhelmed, I go to the slider axis. I put a dot on the category somewhere between 1 and 5. Then I go around all the categories and then link them up.
The weak spots will reveal themselves. Those are where I focus to return a sense of balance and joy. If my community / world category is lower than all the other categories—I reach out to my community and invest energy, and or ask for help if I need it. Strengthen those bonds. If my finances are dragging behind the other categories, I sit down and crunch budget, make a plan, and build a strategy. If my creativity is slogging, I make an artist date with myself and build something new or exciting, something that feeds my curiosity. If I’m feeling emotionally drained, I reaffirm boundaries with people asking for too much energy.
Using the map allows me a visual of where my states are—or where I think/feel they are. Then I can adjust from there. (keep your #blissbubble notes to track your progress monthly or quarterly) The goal is obviously to feel my best in each category. Sometimes being honest with myself about how I really feel about a specific category is difficult—so I separate that category out, and make a smaller, more detailed axis around the points that make up that particular piece of bliss.
For example, when I was working on this map to be able to publish my current state, I realized my “Mystery” and “Health” categories were low compared to others. I already know that my mystery (curiosity/wonder/imagination) have needed attention for some time. I’ll schedule time for play and research into some weird off-topic curiosity and make that a priority soon. I’ll also book a trip to somewhere on the map I haven’t seen, yet.
As for the health, I’m not entirely sure which part of that combination might need attention: So I break it down. Mind/body/spirit.
As I suspected, at the time of completing this, my health feels out of balance because it is. I need to focus on my body and mind a little more to tune into a greater feeling of bliss.
My MIND really could use a rest lately. A good rest. Maybe even a shutdown for maintenance. This is great for a Netflix binge, or a day on the beach (only if I can truly shut my brain off). My mental health is also affected by stress. This can be caused by overlapping timelines, chaotic communication, backlog of workload, or scheduling snags. The best way to limit stress for me is to take an afternoon to reorganize my office or calendar, and get caught up on emails.
Re-configuring a workout or daily exercise, along with a tweak in diet should close the gap in BODY. Then reevaluate in a couple of weeks. (I’ll start with more hydration, adding more walking to my schedule, and cutting back on sugar)
For me, it’s not about total balance all the time. It’s about feeling good, thinking good, and actively working toward an even better place. It’s about WELL-BEING. Overall sustainable well-being.
Sometimes we slip up. Sometimes we get stuck. Sometimes we loop where it’s unhealthy or negative. The important thing for me is making a plan/goal, then chipping away at it. I’ll get there once my mind is made up, however long it takes, I’ll get there.
More importantly, even when I do have those times when all the numbers match, I’m all threes, or all fours…I don’t want to stay there too long. Challenge/adventure is my key driver for growth and change. It instigates the evolution beyond my known matrix, which is only fueled by my curiosity and creativity. These hungers will usually keep pulling me (or inviting me) out of my comfort zones. And quite frankly, I like it that way.
When I’m stagnant at 3 or 4 all the way around…I give myself a difficult challenge or goal, and or I go in search of a transformative adventure. Because for me, bliss is a state of perpetual evolution; a hunger to know, understand, learn, and interact with my world. To build something new or engage in a new process. Being too idle is stressful and crazymaking for me. I know this about myself, so I map it into my bliss planning.
I’m a builder. I must create. Change is inevitable in the creative process. When the ticks on the boxes are stale… I just kick it all up a notch and see what happens.
Cue Indian Jones theme song….
Some people refer to this need as “Upsetting your own apple cart”. I can’t say whether that’s a correct evaluation or not. I’ve been accused of it before, sometimes with merit.
I can only say this about the ratchet-it-up-a-notch strategy. There are proper healthy times to do it, and there are unhealthy toxic ways of doing it (I’ve done it both ways). In the self-destructive or externally toxic way, no Bueno.
In the personal evolutionary way…you only hurt yourself – but it could be argued, that stagnation will also hurt you, and will also become toxic. Conversely, the inherent risk in kicking it up a notch could bring you wild rewards, happiness, and personal satisfaction. For me, the risk is worth it. Nothing ventured, and all that.
So you’ll have to use your best judgement. If you’re the kind of person who sets bombastic goals, or has beautiful huge dreams…you’re probably a lot like me. Staying inside the lines, inside the comfort of the known edges will get to feeling claustrophobic, even suffocating, and a new challenge will need to be presented to keep you from digging a rut. Again, best personal judgement, and all.
Long story short, too late.
This is the beginning of the re-branding of bliss and my work as a creative. These posts will eventually tie into my works on creativity and the essays to come. I’ll keep checking in on this process and sharing the tools I use.
I’d be delighted to be your ambassador to bliss, to creativity, and to well-being. If the tools I post are helpful, please write in. Share your thoughts or offer feedback. I’m always open to new concepts and challenges.
My first challenge to you?
Build a #Blissbubble for the #blissbubblechallenge. What makes you truly happy? What makes you feel alive? Map it, and share it if you’d like.