Bliss is a word that brings many different images to mind. We often associate the word with heightened mental states such as those brought about by meditation and a life of simplicity. At the other end of the spectrum, we might picture a life of complete abundance rooted in physical sensations, wealth, and material possessions.
Living a Blissful Life
Opposite action is a skill I learned as a patient in dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) some three years back. I had begun DBT—a form of therapy that attempts to teach skills that can help counteract a particular behavior—for emotional volatility, and one of the very first skills that I learned was opposite action.
An idea that I keep returning to with my journey toward a happier life is looking for joy in situations that aren't typically very joyful. I'm sure you've heard the phrase, "Hard work is its own reward," but what does that mean? How can something that you loathe doing be in any way rewarding? How can you look for joy there?
I believe that January offers the stillness necessary for revivification, and because of this, I've gotten into the habit the past couple of years of using the month as a true reset. I am especially thrilled about this opportunity this year. I ended 2022 not with a bang nor a fizzle but with a nagging cold, a shoulder injury, and a sub-par attitude. I'd like to share with you today my intentions around the new year to amend these physical and psychic wrongs.
My name is Matt Brocklebank, and I am delighted to be writing here on the blog "Living a Blissful Life" as part of the HealthyPlace team. I hope my insights into overcoming anxiety, panic, and obsessive-compulsive-related disorders will enable others in similar situations to do the same. From my own experience, I know that the idea of living a happy and fulfilling life can sometimes seem like nothing more than a fantasy. I also know that it doesn't have to be that way.
The best gifts don't come in prettily-wrapped packages. The best gifts aren't found under the tree. The best gifts are things we experience all year long.
This is my fourth attempt at writing a post today, and it'll be a miracle if it's my last. Since waking up this morning, I've started three different articles on three different topics, only to give up each after just a few sentences. Nothing was ringing true. So, I've decided to write about the only thing that does feel true, which is that today, I don't have much to say about bliss. I feel no bliss.
I know how important authentic feelings are to recognize. I'm feeling a little blue. Sorrier words have never inaugurated a blog post, I'm sure, but I'm not here to impress you, I'm here to be authentic, to share authentic feelings. What's authentic right now is that it's just one of those days.
This isn't one of those stock Thanksgiving blogicles where I waste 500 words tossing around washed-up phrases about how "gratitude is an attitude." It's much worse than that. I'm going to try to challenge your notion of gratitude altogether. I said early on in my HealthyPlace journey that I wasn't going to try to convince anyone of anything, but we all knew I was lying. So let me be explicit about this: I want you to leave this post believing that gratitude isn't just for the things in your life that are working. I want you to walk away feeling grateful for the challenges in your life that aren't.
I'm writing this just a few minutes removed from a morning run, which I hated almost every second. I'm not like the runners you see in the movies who gracefully jog with their camera-ready smiles; my face is usually fixed in a mask of focused despair, disguising not at all how distasteful I find the whole situation. This run was no different—my feet hurt, my heart pounded quicker than it wanted to, and my respiration struggled to keep pace. In short, the run absolutely, unmistakably, irrevocably sucked. It was exactly what I'd hoped for. I was hoping to increase my distress tolerance.