Sunday, December 30, 2012

Do You Want to Be Happy -- or Blissful?

Several years ago, I attended a seminar in Tampa conducted by motivational speaker and author Marci Shimoff. Marci had just published a book entitled Happy for No Reason. At the beginning of the seminar, she declared that happiness is what people most want in life.

For a long time, I believed that happiness was what I wanted most, just like everyone else. But I no longer believe that. Instead, what I now want is bliss. Let me tell you why.

Many people use the terms “happiness” and “bliss” interchangeably. But I do not believe these terms are synonymous. Even Marci clarifies what kind of happiness she is talking about. She says that real happiness comes from within us and does not depend on external achievements, money, relationships, or anything else “out there.”

Perhaps the term “bliss” is vague to most people. Oh, yes, we have heard of it, but unless we have experienced it, we cannot fully understand or appreciate it. It is difficult to describe because it surpasses the limitations of language.

Here’s what I think distinguishes “happiness” and “bliss” as most people use these terms...

You always need a reason to be happy. You normally experience happiness because you got something you wanted. Perhaps you got the new car, relationship, job, or winning lottery ticket. People often experience happiness during sporting events or social activities. I experienced enormous happiness when I bought my first iPad and again just a few days ago on December 26th when my new iPad mini arrived in the mail. We seem to believe that whoever gets the most toys or perks should be the happiest.

But happiness has some inherent flaws. It is fleeting or perishable and usually is accompanied by a feeling of incompleteness. We fear we may lose it. These qualities of happiness are true because happiness is induced by something external to us. We experience it through our five physical senses of seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, and touching -- all of which depend on external stimuli.

After many years of spiritual study and spiritual practices, I have only recently discovered that bliss is uniquely different from happiness in a variety of significant ways. Unlike happiness, bliss does not depend on external sources. Rather, it comes entirely from within you. You do not need anything outside of you to experience it. Bliss does not come from physical pleasures or material comforts. And unlike happiness, it is not perishable but rather eternal and unlimited because it comes from Spirit.  It comes from remembering what you forgot when you came into the physical world -- your true identity and purpose for coming here. Its spiritual origin explains why you can experience it “for no apparent reason.”

The Sanskrit word for bliss is “ananda.” Ananda can be described as a feeling of incredible joy, a state of spiritual ecstasy, or a condition of being at peace and in harmony with the entire universe.

Bliss is often induced by a spiritual experience or event in your life. Spiritual studies and practices can stimulate it. I often find myself in a state of bliss arising out of the things I learn from A Course in Miracles during our ACIM study group meetings. Certainly overcoming ego-driven emotions such as anger, judgmentalism, and jealousy can contribute to feelings of bliss, as can letting go of shame and guilt about the past or fears and worries about the future.

On December 21st, our Spirit Quest group met to celebrate the coming New Era, as symbolized by the end of the Mayan Long Count calendar on that date and 5,125 years of human fear, ignorance, and greed. Since that meeting and with the emergence of the New Era, I have found myself in a state of gentle bliss that has been nearly impervious to daily irritations and frustrations which, until now, have always undermined my joy and serenity.

I believe that enlightenment, awakened kundalini, self-realization, and a rising level of consciousness can all contribute to attaining a state of bliss. But ultimately, a state of bliss comes from Spirit and the kind of relationship we have with Spirit. That’s what spirituality is all about.

For a long time, I have been reminding Spirit every day during my morning rituals of my desire to experience “health, wealth, happiness, and wisdom” in this lifetime. But now I realize that I ought to substitute the word “bliss” for the word “happiness” in these morning petitions. Who knows? -- eventually I may be able to give up my attachment even to these desires. And when I let go of my attachment to these desires, I probably will experience profound and permanent bliss exceeding everything I have experienced until now.

In any case, I seek to go beyond physically-induced happiness to spiritually-induced bliss while still living here in the physical world. I believe all of us want to do this, consciously or unconsciously, because we are all spiritual beings whether we know it or not and, as such, bliss is our natural state. To be sure, most of humanity continues to live in ignorance of this, and no doubt, some people believe that achieving a permanent state of bliss is impossible as long as we remain in a world of duality. Well, I’m not sure, but I do know I would like to try. How about you?


  1. Hi Roy,
    I enjoyed this very much and I am extremely happy for you. Perhaps now, in your morning meditations, You can give thanks for Wisdom, Health, Wealth and Bliss. In that way you are declaring that you know you already have these attributes and that you are at Peace with all things. Lucky and friends

  2. It’s appropriate time to make some plans for the future and it is time to be happy. I have read this post and if I could I wish to suggest you few interesting things or advice. Perhaps you could write next articles referring to this article. I desire to read even more things about it!