Expanding Happiness: On Fear and Bliss (with notes from Dad!)

Do you ever find yourself in a state so euphoric you feel the urge to immediately bring yourself back down? Snap back to reality before reality has a chance to kick you in the ass and disappoint you? I do. I struggle with appreciating, enjoying and expanding happy moments. Sometimes I find myself waiting for the other shoe to drop. Or I immediately remind myself of all the people suffering and why I don't deserve to feel so happy - convinced it will be taken away from me any second now. I'm learning to notice those thoughts and recognize them for what they are - fear. I know I am better than that. My motto is "live big!" - and fear and worry only rob me of that.

I just finished a fantastic book on this subject, The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks, about The Upper Limit Problem - our limited tolerance for feeling good. Hendricks talks about how we shoot ourselves in the foot when we feel ourselves approaching (or God forbid - surpassing) our perceived upper limits of happiness and success.

I'm going to post The Big Leap book notes soon. Today's post actually comes from a place much closer to home - they are excerpts from essays my dad (architect by day, painter/writer/reader/thinker by night) wrote on the subject of Bliss - that wonderful state of transcendent joy, at once elusive and incredibly rewarding. My dad and I had a conversation about The Upper Limit Problem this weekend, and last night I arrived home to find 30-pages of handwritten notes sitting in a manila folder on my doorstep. I'm so excited to share them with you - they are priceless - and no, I'm not just saying that because he's my dad. :)

Jim Blake (my dad!) On Bliss: It takes courage to seek bliss and it takes courage to maintain bliss.

A state of bliss is, by definition, a separation from the norms of social life. It is a standing apart, isolated from the goals of the common, the goals stated and implied of the family, neighborhood, city and nation. Good gets stale quicker than bread. That which is good soon gets old and tired. Don't be surprised when good goes bad. Bliss is dynamic.

Bliss allows you in and takes you for a ride - you want to live with it. Fear is a one-trick pony worth a 15-second glance in a museum - usually over sized - the first trick of missed bliss.

It takes courage to peel away from expectations. It takes courage to maintain a state of blissful separateness, and courage again to share what one brings back from that journey. Harnessing Bliss Take the time to win your private war against your mundane soul. It is a war of daily battles. It is a war won in the trenches With hard work, healthy habits. It is a war won when no one is looking - no one is listening And you have all the time you need to prevail.

The Bliss Crash / The Agony of Bliss 1. It isolates an individual 2. There is always a crash! The agononies and humiliations of loss. The risk of the arena - not knowing the outcome. Bliss is rugged - not gentle. It only looks easy and painless. The price is high (the bliss crash) Loss of bliss - coming down from a bliss state - depression, anxiety, fear, resentment.

The Authority of Bliss People tend to defer to one who has graceful and regular access to the bliss state and it's poetic products - from Joe Montana's superbowl victories to Erik Fischl's seductively superficial brushwork - "they make it look easy" - "they make it look fun."

Unconditional Bliss Find bliss wherever you may be, whatever you are doing, and with whomever you are with. Make the very finest with what you have. You are the sum of your bliss.