Our life has become so economic and practical in its orientation that, as you get older, the claims of the moment upon you are so great, you hardly know where […] you are, or what it is you intended. You are always doing something that is required of you. Where is your bliss station? You have to try to find it. Get a phonograph and put on the music that you really love, even if it’s corny music that nobody else respects. – Joseph Campbell
I love playing tabletop games. There is nothing that makes me happier than sitting around a table with friends new and old, playing a game together. The puzzle of the game makes my brain cells work a little, but the social interaction with the people around the table makes it sublime. For me, that’s one of my “bliss stations.” It really brings me joy.
I also getting lost in a book. I love reading nonfiction, where my mind spins around new ideas, but I also love speculative fiction, where my imagination runs wild. I love getting so deep into a book that the time just disappears. That’s another “bliss station” for me.
Another one? I actually really like getting lost in a work project, getting into the zone where the hours fly by. I absolutely love how I feel when I snap back to attention, realize that time has passed, and notice how much I’ve accomplished. That’s yet another “bliss station” for me.
The time I spend with my children is another one, as is the time spent doing pretty much anything with my wife. Sometimes, I get them when I get lost in a powerful piece of music, or when something makes me laugh deeply.
“Bliss moments” are simply those moments and situations where many of the negative parts of your life just float into the background, leaving you simply feeling great and enjoying the moment.
I believe that “bliss moments,” however you might achieve them, are the true highlights of our life. They make our day-to-day existence worthwhile. I know that they certainly make my own life worthwhile.
There was a time in my life where I felt that I was achieving “bliss moments” when I would walk out of a store with an armload of books or a new gadget or when I was trying out a new restaurant. In those moments, I would feel incredibly good about things, but those moments came with a price.
I felt empty and sad whenever I’d examine the state of my finances and get a glimpse that I was heading in the wrong direction. I’d feel distraught when I’d look at the bills and not know how I was going to pay them.
Here’s the truth: if you have to spend money to achieve a “bliss moment,” then it’s a false moment.
A bliss moment, on its own, doesn’t steal from the joy of other parts of your life. It brings joy without ever demanding a payment in return. It doesn’t give you stress at other moments in your life. It takes away that stress for a little bit and makes the stress you do have easier to handle without adding more to the pile. A “bliss moment” shouldn’t require hard choices and sacrifice later on.
Here’s a big secret that I’ve learned about personal finance and life: the more “bliss moments” you can find in your life that don’t require you to spend money, the better off you’ll be.
It’s because of that realization that I constantly seek out free sources of “bliss moments” – or at least sources that incur only the slightest additional expense. I go to community events, particularly those that are free and overlap with my interests, such as community game nights and free concerts. I consciously set aside blocks of time to allow myself to fall into the “flow” of working and, as often as I can, the “flow” of a good book. I also set aside blocks to spend specifically with my children.
These steps cost me very little in terms of my money, but they’re all powerful sources of “bliss moments,” and it’s those little moments that bring so much deep joy into my life. With those moments at hand, the desire to have more stuff falls dramatically. I don’t need “stuff” to have these moments.
Seek out the bliss moments in your life, especially the free ones. Find ways to bring them into your life on a regular basis. I’ve found nothing better in terms of making my life feel whole and making me realize that I don’t really need things or expensive experiences to enjoy a tremendous life.