A Bliss Practice
Any search regarding productivity ‘hacks’ will result in nirvana-like terms like flow and bliss. I don’t know a lot about these states but I do know a fair amount about hyper-focus, a related state that is often mistaken for a bliss or flow state. Before I talk about what bliss is and how to create it, let’s talk about what it is not.
Bliss is not hyper-focus
As an executive ADHD leadership coach I’ve worked with individuals for years with real hyper-focus challenges. Hyper-focus is a response to a sense of urgency due to excessive delay or procrastination. When a deadline approaches, the fight-flight center of the brain is activated and adrenaline is made available to ward off the ‘incoming threat’. Dopamine, a neurotransmitter key in attention areas of the brain is made available. The clarity and motivation that comes with hyper-focus feels great in the moment, even blissful, but this is temporary. The high productivity of hyper-focus is followed soon by a crash and recovery period. Nothing blissful about it.
Bliss is also not a mindset, rather not entirely. Mindset is a perspective on the front side of a task - how one approaches a situation. Bliss is a response to tasks completed - residing on the backside of a task. Bliss is a chemical response in the brain to a sense of accomplishment and a sense of control in your day resulting in a peace-of-mind sensation. The motivation system in the brain is activated when we achieve bliss. We feel a sense of belonging, a path forward and the autonomy to solve our own problems. There is an undeniable connection between achieving bliss and flow state. If bliss is a chemical response in the brain to a series of key actions and deliberate intentions, one can create a blissful state by committing to a simple daily practice.
Commit to a daily practice that:
Only matters to you
Unleashes your own inner craftsman
Taps into your own creative process
Happens first thing in your day or is a part of an AM self-care regimen
Produces some tangible, creative product that you can share with the world - an artistic product, a blog post, a podcast, a new process or model - anything that is a result of your own crafting efforts
Extends over a 21 day period
Convincing your belief system
Our belief systems are powerful influencers in how we view a situation and the ultimate choices we make in our day. If bliss is achieved when we have a sense of control (and safety) then we have to convince our belief system that this is the case. If you predominantly think that someone else is in control, you think you are a victim or think you are at the whim of others then bliss is not possible. The steps above help to shift thinking around control. Nothing is more powerful and satisfying than exercising an intention solely authored by oneself. Placing this practice first thing in your day and not letting it fall into the margins of your day sends a powerful message of who is ultimately calling the shots.
Completion of relevant actions releases serotonin in the brain, a mood enhancer. Completion of an action only important to you reinforces a powerful sense of control and self-determination.
This can and will eventually lead to a mindset shift of resourcefulness and resiliency, key attributes for leaders and influencers.
Tapping into creative processes is like a cross-fit workout for your brain, exercising new neural pathways and engaging important neural networks outside the often overused limbic system.
Finally, habits develop over a period of 3 weeks. Committing to this practice without evaluation for a period of 21 days vastly improves the chance of the practice becoming a real habit and evolving into a real source of bliss.