Remember feeling bliss?
As Canadian Mental Health Awareness Week and Mental Health Month approach, we may ask ourselves some deep questions. Maybe we ask, 'at what age did we forget how to just being happy?'. Barring an abusive childhood, when we were children we simply did things because they made us happy.
Play all day without once wondering what we might look like in a mirror? ALL day!
Scarf down our favorite treats without once worrying about calories? Absolutely!
Dance like no one was watching? Yep! (At around 5 years of age, I once twirled around the room after my mother’s dance class was over. Everyone cleared the floor just for my solo lol. Sadly, I would never dream of that now!)
Smile like goofballs for a picture? Count me in!
Then something shifts...
...damn proud of the lessons we've learned
We all hit an age where we suddenly become self-aware. I guess it’s needed, we need to become mostly aware of social norms, become responsible and carry our weight in the world, be accountable for how our behavior and words affect others. However, somewhere on that journey many of us simply gave too much away. We allowed others to tell us how we should look, how to act, how much to tolerate, what our values should be, what to hide away about ourselves, what masks were acceptable to wear, and that is not favorable for our mental health. In that process of giving away our complete power we may have lost our happiness. Not to say we weren’t happy on many occasions, in our lives. But dare I say that many of us lost our deep inner happiness? The kind that comes from really liking who we are, what we stand for, proud of the physical bodies that carry us through this life, and damn proud of the lessons we’ve learned along the way that make us who we are today.
I might not always enjoy bliss and it's okay.
From this path of finding inner happiness once again, of going back to listen to that inner child, and what she or he wants, I painted the piece “Bliss”. “Utter joy or contentment”, so bliss is defined in one dictionary. Something I’ve discovered on my search for this “happiness”, is that I also need to be okay with not feeling it. I won’t always feel bliss, content, or even happy - and it's okay. There are going to be awful days when I want to pull my hair out and scream at the world, when I think I'll never ever feel happy again. But as surely as the dark days come around, the difficult times do eventually fade into grey, then slowly into a misty white, and to be very cliché, “the sun shines again”. Optimal mental health is about taking the bad with the good and knowing how to cope.
True bliss, probably isn't always blissful...
I think true bliss comes from accepting the ebb and flow of feelings, emotions, and life’s highs and lows. Finding the little things everyday for which we can be grateful. Being open to receiving love and praise. Forcing ourselves to take tiny steps forward in our learning journeys, and giving of ourselves and our knowledge to others from the lessons we’ve learned. Learning how to weather the ebb and flow of life is key to optimal mental health.