I am delighted and grateful to welcome Kathy Sprinkle of Bliss Habits to my blog. Kathy really knows how to bring the bliss, every day.
First I’d like to say thank you to Sue for the kind invitation. I am just delighted to be here to talk about bliss.
For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Kathy Sprinkle, and nearly four years ago now, I created a personal project to inject more bliss into everyday Life. My experiment, which is conducted over on the Bliss Habits blog, is based loosely on (my hero!) Ben Franklin’s life long practice to concentrate on each of thirteen virtues he felt would make him a better person. In my version, I’ve come up with virtues, I call them habits, which when practiced, will help to cultivate bliss.
I realize that this can sound trite. You may be struggling to pay the bills, dealing with difficult and complicated situations at work or home that lead you to believe bliss is the least of your concerns, but this would be a mistake. Since beginning my experiment, I’ve learned that when our bliss tanks are full, our capacity for compassion and action are greatly increased. To my delight, I have also found that pursuing and sharing bliss has helped me be a better parent, wife, friend and citizen of the world.
I believe every time we experience a moment of bliss we connect to something much larger than ourselves. Bliss is magical and has the ability to transport us beyond our day to day concerns. Certainly it is possible to exist without it but thriving requires it.
Bliss can also be elusive. There is no specific formula that will guarantee you will find some but (and this is a big one) if you do create an environment in which bliss is welcome and encouraged, you WILL find yourself enjoying more of it. This is how I do it:
How to cultivate everyday bliss
#1 — Get specific and then relax
When I first set out to find more bliss I took some time to distinguish what exactly BLISS looked like, for me. In doing so, I initially came up with 13 aspects, later to be called habits, of the types of bliss experiences I hoped to create. Things like romance, joy and whimsy topped my list.
Getting specific about these areas allowed me to get clear about the types of encounters that were most likely to give me bliss or at the very least bring me some added delight. Knowing what makes you happy is a powerful first step to happiness. It is no different with bliss.
There is no sure fire technique (that I’ve discovered anyway!) that can guarantee you will feel blissful BUT (and this is a biggie) if you open yourself up and then relax about it, you will find yourself more often in situations where bliss arises.
Just this morning, I found a little slice of bliss. I had taken a few extra minutes to indulge one of my passions, to replace a normally hurried breakfast with a slow cooked and deliberate one, and had created a space for myself to really enjoy the food I was eating. Suddenly, as I was slowly savoring the delight of a perfectly ripe blackberry I had a moment; one small lovely taste of bliss!
I love blackberries and have regularly eaten them without blissful side effects, but today, because of my bliss inducing preparation, a single juicy blackberry was able to bring me to bliss.
#2 — Set your intention for bliss
I know! This sounds ridiculously simple but I assure you, this is the key to the whole shebang!
For the past four years I’ve set a personal intention to explore different distinctions of bliss. Each week I create an intention to bring more of these particular habits to my life.
My bliss habit list, which you can see at the top of my blog includes things like joy, thrift, serenity and romance. Each week I pick a specific bliss virtue and concentrate on it. When I first begin the week I choose an intention or “Bliss Initiative.” This week is “Passion Week” for me and I’ve found that our passions are always calling to us and so this week my initiative is to answer that call!
How often do we shove the things that are important to us aside? Too often in these busy times but this week I’m not making that mistake. Having a “Passion week” gives me permission to indulge these passions but what about bliss? While not guaranteed, my lovely blackberry moment became more easily accessible because of my attention on passion.
Did you catch that? Bliss became more easily accessible because of my attention.
Over the years I’ve come to realize this is the key to having more bliss. Bliss remains a bit magical and it really hasn’t, in my experience, been possible to create it specifically, BUT I have found that by giving my weekly attention to my habits I’ve created the openings for bliss to arise. Over and over, I’ve been able to encourage and experience more bliss.
Attention is the key to everything!
#3 –—Play games with yourself and others
I believe that coming up with games to play is the lynch pin of the whole thing. A game is a very human distinction. Animals don’t play games, plants don’t play games. Only humans can play games. Games excite us, they can bring out the best in us but also important, for this project, they give us a way to measure things. Ben Franklin played his game with a simple yes or no scoring system. Each night he looked over his virtue list and gave himself a “mark” if he didn’t live up to his virtues. His lifelong game was to live a blemish free (no marks) life.
The way I play for everyday bliss is by coming up with the weekly Bliss Initiatives which are concrete things anyone can do to increase their experience of the particular virtue. Some examples of initiatives:
- For the Habit of Joy — Smile at three strangers today
- For Habit of Romance — Kiss for 30 seconds upon hello and goodbye
- For Habit of Gratitude — send an unexpected Thank You note for good service
I share the initiatives I come up with on my blog to hold myself accountable and invite others to play along.
The games do not have to be elaborate. Sometimes I come up with several initiatives so I can pick and choose. The key is doing something and games provide a nice framework. It is also more fun if other people play along. For this reason I try to come up with initiatives other people might like to try too.
Games are not about winning. If you played a game to see how many smiles you could get in a day who loses?
[Note: If you aren’t up for making up your own games, you are always welcome to peruse Bliss Habits for ideas or play along directly over on our Facebook Page. This week we are concentrating on Passion (as you may have guessed!) next week is all about Whimsy and Serenity follows that!]
By playing these games I regularly put myself in situations where bliss shows up. Sometimes I am wildly successful and other times my ideas and initiatives are complete flops but I firmly believe my life has come to be reliably blissful because of them.
So that’s it! To cultivate bliss everyday:
- Get specific and then relax
- Set your intention for bliss
- Play games with yourself and others
Kathy Sprinkle is a full time wife and mom, late to the game of parenting. She battles guilt, ponders cosmic questions, encourages environmental consciousness, fosters community, and generally fumbles around in her pursuit for fun, fulfillment and everyday bliss. You can say hello and follow her antics on her Bliss Habits blog, Facebook page and on Twitter.