Updated: Apr 3
Happiness isn't something you find "out there", it's something you create "in here" *points to self*...
I briefly caught up with some creative friends this week, which is crazy rare for me these days because I hardly leave the house. Why would I want to? I have a lovely modern apartment with a north facing view from a quaint balcony that gets drenched in sunlight all day long. For me this is bliss.
The wisdom drawn from life lessons have taught me that engaging in what makes my heart happy, and saying no to stressful situations is the most important thing I can do for myself. Also from a medical point of view, turns out I have all these gut issues that stem from stress induced anxiety. So making sure I keep my world as stress free as possible is a priority to avoid feeling sick, having horrible reactions to food and feeling like rubbish.
Now I'm not saying that I lock myself away from the world to avoid all kinds of possible stress triggers. Not at all, happy to get amongst life. I love travel and socialising as much as any other semi-extroverted introvert who works in the entertainment industry. But I also really love my own company. There's a self care aspect to spending time alone that I highly rate. I found this out about myself as a kid, spending hours in my room drawing and writing and creating art, realising that in the times where I wasn't doing this, I was more grumpy. Then it was reinforced in my early 20s the first time I travelled overseas alone. Every time I'm in the air I feel an overwhelming sense of peace, because I'm forced to be in the moment with my thoughts, with nothing but a view of the clouds or the hum of the engines, nowhere to be, no access to the outside world. A forced meditation of sorts. Which is kind of necessary if you have an eternally busy mind. Being alone with your thoughts, forces you to make your thoughts enjoyable.
Any time my stress levels are high or I feel unhappy with my life, it means I haven't been spending enough time alone or taking time out from stressful thoughts. There's a necessary reconnection to self that can only be found through autonomy and sovereignty, and I believe that this is how we find our bliss, regardless of the chaos that is our life around us.
If you can sit in the silence of yourself, with your thoughts and ideas and dreams, you can find a sense of bliss and comfort and happiness of just being. If you can't stand solitude and being left with your own thoughts and company, then you're gonna have a hard time ever finding true happiness. So you'll need to learn how to shift the way you think.
Finding bliss even when things aren't particularly great, is an art. I've managed to get pretty good at it, so I've made a list of things you can do that might help you find bliss in the chaos also, regardless of what kind of life you live...
Daily Bliss Tips
Yoga style breathing techniques to instantly calm anxiety
I do this when something particularly stressful has happened or if I'm suddenly upset by something. By taking deep yoga breaths: 4 seconds in through the nose, hold for 7 seconds and 8 slow seconds out through the mouth, your brain gets a signal to slow down the chaos and releases calming chemicals.
Creating a personal space or a corner of your home for relaxation
Make a corner to spend time in, even if it's just 5 minutes. Like my sunny balcony; every other day I sit there surrounded by plants with a cup of coffee in hand just taking in the sounds of birds and trams in the distance, and I watch the clouds roll by. I try to do this at least twice a week. For you it might be a meditation corner, or a reading nook - whatever works for you.
Consciously side-stepping stressful and anxious thoughts
When a stressful or negative thought props up - consciously force yourself to think of a solution based thought. This takes some practice, but as you become more mindful and self aware, it gets easier. For example, if you're stressed about a pending situation and it makes you feel anxious, observe and acknowledge that it's part of your animal instinct of self preservation to alert yourself of pending doom, and say; "Thanks for trying to protect me brain, but I'd like to focus on resolving this when there are more facts, not worrying about things before they happen."
Like I said, it's Jedi Mind Trick Miyagi stuff, and it takes practice. Don't beat yourself up if it takes a few tries or you fall back into worry or stress. You'll get there, which leads to the next tip...
Be kind to yourself
We are all guilty of talking shit about ourselves. We call ourselves names, like when we accidentally break something "You idiot". Or the hidden voice within that whispers neg talk like "You wont win/you're not good enough." Similar to the last tip, this one takes practice. But rather than using neg talk, try using honey talk. Speak to yourself as if you're speaking to the person you most revere. Replace words like "idiot" with "silly head" or fear based mantras like "I'm not gonna succeed" with "I will learn something from trying", and again, the more you do this, the better you'll get at it.
Doing a physical activity to distract yourself from toxic thinking
This is some Miyagi wax on, wax off stuff right here. The kind of psychological manipulation you use on kids to make them do good things for themselves (like telling them that broccoli is Emma Wiggle's favourite food so they should eat it too, or teaching them about delayed rewards so they know how to work hard when they grow up).
These Jedi Mind tricks actually work on adults too, even if you know you're doing it.
When you're in a toxic thought loop, or you can't stop thinking about all the bads of the world, go do something to distract yourself, like wash the dishes. Not only will you train your brain to stop thinking like that (cause you'll be punished with chores) you'll also achieve things, get menial tasks done when your brain is hardly paying attention. So you'll go from being stressy, to finding yourself in a spotless home 15 minutes later. This one works for me. But then again I'm OCPD so I get pleasure out of cleaning, arranging and organising things. Not that I necessarily enjoy the process of it, but the outcome pops me into bliss mode.
Achieving something small each day
Bliss can be achieved though feeling accomplished. I think this might be especially true for men. Although it's something I relate to because I'm a high achiever who is driven. The need to feel a sense of accomplishment and value can be overwhelming, and when nothing of importance is achieved, we can sometimes beat ourselves up. So setting a couple of small tasks and associating them directly with your self value and sense of accomplishment can work wonders. The trick is to make the tasks easy to achieve. Something as simple as making your bed every day can be a point of pride. For me it definitely is. Find a couple of small things that you know you can achieve every day, and once you've achieved them, reward yourself with a little bit of honey talk. eg; "That bed looks beautiful Alicia, you're amazing! Well done, you domestic goddess!" 😜
Celebrate your wins
Even the small wins deserve celebrating. We live in a hustle world and we sometimes forget to celebrate the things we achieve because we're always looking to the horizon. But make sure you find a moment to celebrate you! Even if you're not where you want to be, or you've taken a few steps back, there will still be something to celebrate. Lessons learned, new ideas formed. Whatever it is, give yourself a pat on the back because you're doing an amazing job!
This is an absolute no brainer. Not everyone can get time alone at home, but if you can escape the house for 45 minutes a day and get some exercise, your brain will reward you with all the good shit like endorphins, serotonin and dopamine. Yay! Free happy drugs!
So there it is, a bliss guide to get you started. It's not gonna be a perfect remedy every time, because we're human and we're not machines. You might go through phases of just wanting to check out of reality, and you might even need help finding your way back. But hopefully, these tips will make the process a little easier for you.
PS: As soon as I finished writing this I automatically, loudly, proclaimed to myself "It's finished. Good blog, well done!" 😉 #honeytalk
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Alicia Pavlis is a writer, actor, musician, filmmaker, photographer, visual artist, and content producer. She is passionate about progressive topics and is also an advocate for mental health awareness. All writing, artwork and content expressed on this site are Alicia's own views and intellectual property, protected by Australian copyright law, reproduction, distribution or publication without Alicia Pavlis' permission is prohibited.
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