Bliss, Ecstasy and the Pursuit of Happiness

By Lisa Cook

That’s what the headline for a recent email I received said. I am quite certain the ‘Bliss and Ecstasy’ the senders are referring to are the promised land of another course taken, webinar attended or special report to read.  I didn’t read it. I don’t care for bliss and ecstasy.  Not that bliss and ecstasy don’t sound fabulous, but I can honestly tell you they sound like the drug they are.  We are not designed to live in eternal bliss and ecstasy.  We are designed to shine, thrive and yes . . . suffer. We unfortunately have put labels on suffering that are not quite what the universe has in mind. 

“You were meant to suffer!!” does not have quite the catchy images that come from reading ‘Bliss and Ecstasy”, but let me be clear this pursuit of happiness is actually making us sick and science is starting to prove it.

In the June 2013 issue of Psychology Today, an Article entitled, “Smile . . . or Else. How Faking It Makes us Miserable,” contains a perfect quote. “The positivity imperative now coursing through the culture makes feelings of sadness particularly pathological.”

Bliss and ecstasy are giving us a false need and desire to keep up with others, or we should deny any sad or confusing feelings.  While I am not suggesting we should act on every negative thought or sad emotion that comes to the surface, we can acknowledge that it appeared and now we can decide what we want to do with that thought.

Suffering is not always clearly defined. Suffering does not mean poverty and strife.  Rather we are chemically designed to solve problems and those problems are often our own personal suffering.  It can be as simple as finding the confidence to apply for a new job or deciding what’s for dinner. Suffering also includes the complicated suffering like dealing with the death of a love one or the pain and confusion of abuse.  The story is not nearly as important as the thoughts in our mind.

What I believe happens in the game of ecstasy and bliss is the actual denial of true work.  Living in bliss and ecstasy can only occur when we truly live without judgment, fear, anger, and resentment.  When we live in a state of grace we can lay claim to a feeling of ecstasy and bliss AND confusion and doubt. However parking our butts in the happier than hell campground keeps the journey of the bliss byway short and very incomplete.

As my heart continues to unpeel layer by layer there are fleeting moments of grace but that’s the frosting on the cake of work, personal work, alas the suffering part.  I don’t suffer like an injured soldier or a body wrought with illness.   Rather the suffering, for me, is in seeing or feeling ever so slightly the taste of grace the freedom of bliss,  or the peace of ecstasy and then having it disappear as  it rolls ever so gently into the shores of more growth, more lessons, and more questions that require me to journey through my own mind and find the creaks and crevices that hold more darkness.

As you journey today through your business responsibilities , family obligations and relationships of all kinds, I invite you to examine the moments of bliss as well as the segments of suffering.  Notice how you can choose what to hang on to and what you can release.  And, really, how do you define ‘bliss and ecstasy?

Lisa Cook

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© 2013 Lisa Cook -