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Joy ahoy!

Oct 152013

I ran into an old friend on the street the other day, someone I hadn’t seen in years – and it was only afterwards that I became aware of the intense feeling of joy that had accompanied this chance encounter.
What’s joy, really, you might ask, and why’s it so important that we pay attention to it? Well, joy is a feeling of lightness and elation, as I’m sure you already know – but you’re probably not aware that it often causes a quick spike in our emotional field which can often go unregistered in our minds.
I think of joy as something like an ‘orgasm of the soul’. Much like a genital orgasm, it builds to a fast climax, then soon fades away. It’s a fleeting emotion, unlike many of the heavier, more negative emotions that we can easily get stuck in – and because of that, we often we fail to pay attention to it. But when we do, it can lead to some startling insights.
In essence, those joyful moments often inform us of where our passions lie. Why’s that so important? Because it’s passion that gives our lives our meaning, purpose and satisfaction. So by becoming more mindful of the joy we experience, we can find clues to the types of activities and people that make our hearts sing, and our lives rich.
It’s worth noting that authentic joy emerges from inside you. It’s not generated by validation from others (for example, by a compliment you might receive). It’s an interior response that speaks to you from your soul. For instance, an artist friend of mine gains validation from selling ‘commercial’ paintings that are designed to have mainstream appeal – but his sense of real joy comes when he’s pushing himself past his usual limits, reaching inside himself and painting something entirely new and fresh.
For my artist mate, it’s easy to recognise where his passion originates… but for many of us, it’s harder to pinpoint. That lack of purpose, that feeling of emptiness, of something being ‘missing’, or being incomplete or unfulfilled is incredibly common. Yet what’s often at the core isn’t the lack of joy itself, but the lack of noticing and therefore feeling the joy.
If realising your passions is something you’ve ever struggled with, one way to raise your awareness is to keep a diary of your emotions. Essentially what you do is to report in a notebook any moment where you feel like you’ve experienced joy. At first, you may find it hard to identify many instances, but keep paying attention, and over time, you’ll hopefully start tuning into some brief flickers of pure joy, no matter how fleeting. Whether it’s the pleasure of having cooked yourself something yummy for dinner, doing something interesting at work, or achieving a goal you’ve set yourself, write down these moments, because they’ll provide the signposts you need to creating more of those moments in the future.
Once we can be mindful of life’s joyful moments, we can experience greater contentment from the realisation that there’s actually more joy and meaning in our lives than we might think – and we can work on maintaining and increasing those same types of joyful experiences, to give us even more meaning, purpose and satisfaction.
In love and light,

Constant cravings

Oct 062013

We’ve been diving deep lately, with recent Bliss blogs focusing on two of the key forces that drive your actions and behaviours – your values and your needs. This week, we’re going to travel further still, into one of the most powerful motivators, especially in the area of sex and relationships – our desires.
Desires are what make the world go round. From sexual desires to the lust for wealth and power, every one of us is driven by desire of some type, and it’s happening all the time. It’s no coincidence that advertising, one of the world’s most powerful industries has been built around this insight. TV ads, billboards, and any one of the estimated 250 advertising messages we’re exposed to every day, nearly always tap into those basic human desires built into all of us.
We construct our lives around our desires – and new desires are forever being born in us. Yet while some of us embrace them, many of us remain in the dark, or fearful of them. And with most religions condemning desire in all its forms, that’s no surprise. Desires are nearly always highly powerful, dangerous, even. They carry an ‘urge’. Unchecked, they can lead to obsession, and to unhealthy pursuits like greed, laziness, envy, and even violence.
Yet our desires, when acted upon consciously and with awareness, can allow us autonomy, individuality and creativity (which are also things organised religions might be fearful of, and wish to discourage us from). Desire motivates us to action. We actually can’t live fully without them.
Desires are elusive, they can easily hide. And because they often show up in our dreams, or our imaginations, we may not be fully hear or understand them. When we fail to realise our desires, or to even ask ourselves what we really want, life can just ‘happen to us’ – but we all have the potential to ‘co-create our lives, using our desires to motivate us into action.
So ask yourself, ‘what do I most desire’ – and if the answers don’t come easily, do this simple exercise to bring them into the light. This exercise can be applied to a particular area of your life (such as your sex life, a potential partner, or your work), or you can think of it as more of a broad gauge of some of the things that float your boat in general. All you need do is take a few minutes out with a pen and paper, and write whatever first comes into your mind when you ask yourself ‘What are my top turn-ons?’. Try not to over think it. It might be as simple as ‘enjoying a beautiful sensual massage’, or ‘digging in the garden and getting my hands dirty’, or ‘devouring a slice of chocolate cake from my favourite bakery’. Whatever it is that you really love to do, whatever makes your mouth water, your knees tremble or your heart quicken, write it down. Wait a week or two, then do it again. Compare your answers, and see if there are any patterns, any clues to the types of desires you experience over time.
Most importantly during this exercise, be aware of which desires feel ‘light’ or empowering, and which feel unhealthy or obsessional. Which do you embrace, and which are you afraid of? Which do you act on, and which do you try to ignore? Don’t judge yourself. This is about creating awareness and bringing desires in all their forms into the light, allowing you to see them, to feel them and to accept them. Realising that, we can be less enslaved by them, and we’re free to express our desires in ways that are healthy and supportive of our journey through life.
Once you combine new awareness of your desires with better understanding of your wants and needs, you’re on the way to all kinds of transformations. A bold claim, you might say – but when our wants, needs and desires reveal themselves to us, we can begin to shape our lives more in alignment with them.
Quite simply, new awareness of our wants, needs and desires creates powerful shifts in attitudes and behaviour, propelling us to new heights of success, contentment and joy in all areas of life.
In love and light,