Uncovering Bliss When it’s Hard to Find

June 10th, 2010

I recently experienced a loss in my family. The timing of it coinciding with my choice of theme for this month, bliss, seemed painfully ironic. At first I wasn't sure how I was going to keep up with posting about it. I thought about bringing in guest posters or just taking a break. But I think I chose the theme for a reason. Finding bliss isn't just important when you're feeling great, it's good to find when you're feeling low too.

Here are some ways I uncover bliss in my life when it's a bit hard to see.

Allow yourself to be sad: This might seem counter-productive, but it's not. Allowing yourself to feel sad, when you're sad, makes room for the joy to come in.

Listen in: Take the time to listen in to what you want and need. Move towards those things that make you smile and bring you joy. Be gentle with yourself.

Small steps: Sometimes, many times, it's the little things that make a difference. A walk in the woods, watching birds outside, playing with your pets, or silly knock-knock jokes can be the way in.

Call in support: Spend time with friends or loved ones that make you feel good. I find spending time with little kids is especially helpful. Getting a hug from a 2 year old is the best!

Treat yourself: I'm not much into shopping therapy, but sometimes a pretty purple pen, a new sketchbook, a haircut, a new pair of shoes, or bouquet of your favorite flowers can put some pep back into your step.

Make a list of gratitude: Noticing at least one little thing you're grateful for each day can be a big help in spotting those blissful moments when they seem hard to find.

What are some of the ways you find joy in your life when things are tough?



42 Responses

So sorry for the loss you’ve recently experienced. I know how that goes, and appreciate the list you’ve made as a way to find a bit of joy here and there. I have trouble finding the joy and bliss a lot of days, but sometimes it’s a simple favorite dress, or new pen that makes me smile and feel less down. Wishing you much peace, and many glimpses of bliss in the weeks to come.

Hi Leah,

I’m so sorry to hear of your loss. I find it quite difficult to find bliss when things are really troubling in my life, but try to spend time with others dealing with the same difficulty and finding fond memories and even sometimes shared humorous stories help me.

I’m not sure I can quality the feelings as exactly bliss, but sharing a loss with someone and trying to ease their burden helps me to deal with mine.

Sending you lots of love and hugs,


So sorry for your loss. I’ve had several significant losses in the past 4 years, the toughest being the loss of my husband suddenly. It took a lot of tears and prayers and great family and friends to get through at first. But gradually, I found myself reaching out to help others. In volunteering, in helping people who really need help, I began to live again, to look forward to each day more and more, to know that I was really the one who was being blessed. This has been great therapy for me during my own time of mourning.

We’re on the same wavelength today – just wrote about this same thing. Sending you lots of love and hugs!

Oh, Leah, I am so sorry for your loss. I can understand how the timing might not have seemed appropriate for the theme of bliss…but I think you are so brave and wonderful to have turned it around. That’s how we need to approach life… :) All my best.

I’m so sorry Leah. Thank you for carrying on with theme. Your work helps so many people. I hope it helps you find your bliss too.

I’m sorry for your loss. Finding bliss through grief can sometimes be impossible. Even if bliss is not found there are moments of peace for sure, and those usually settle in after a dark dance with despair. Art is wonderful therapy for working through loss, it has helped me express emotion that would other wise be trapped inside. I hope art helps you too.

Dear Leah,
You highlighted a very important aspect, and that is to allow oneself to feel all that is going on, because by feeling you heal. I think acceptance is closely tied in, because by accepting your also letting go of the trouble and acknowledging what is going on through the motions, like a tide. I find joy and appreciation in this, the acceptance of allowing oneself to be through the motions.

this is a wonderful list of simple pleasures! it’s difficult to put ourselves in the shoes of an emotion that is entirely opposite of the one we’re feeling – it takes a lot of courage and strength of mind. hugs, love, and my condolences for your loss.

I truly admire your decision to continue with the theme of ‘bliss’ at this difficult time and hope that you find comfort (and bliss) as you move forward with your life.

You are a warrior of love, passion, strength and wisdom. Your gifts to the world are endless, and you still shine even through this loss. Sending all of my love, and more strength when you are feeling low. xoxo <3

I’m so sorry for your loss, Leah!

I totally agree with you about bliss being possible in the midst of pain and sadness. I believe it is not based on circumstances, but a way of life. Inspired by this month’s theme, I have been appreciating the sources of joy in my life by listing them in a little notebook I made for just that purpose, shown here, if you’re interested: http://created2bcreative.blogspot.com/2010/06/inspired-by-shona-cole-of-artful-life.html (The end of the url should be “joy notes” but I forgot to put a title before I posted.)
I have been working through some difficult times and making artful things like that book have been tremendously helpful!


I’m so glad to hear that working through your loss with creativity has been a comfort for you, Leah. I know that is true for me as well. As creative people, we do tend to deal with our sorrows in a different way and some of your suggestions are just great. Hugs to you and may you be surrounded with love always…

sometimes in the sadness itself, i am overwhelmed by gratitude that i am able to feel so deeply. other times, when i feel stuck in hard feelings and not able to feel better, i come back to my body and its senses–what can i sense inside my body? what is here in my vision, in my hearing? these are also the truth of the moment, and focusing on one or more can bring me more present than running thought/feeling tapes…blessings, leah, on your journey, katy

My heart hurts alongside yours.

Here are some ways I have found joy and awakened to bliss even through times of profound grief/sadness.

1. Acknowledge the grief and sadness/feel your way into them completely. This actually allows it to do its work so that the joy and bliss have space to get through.

2. Go outside – walk – sit under a tree – find a brook and have a picnic, a simple one, prepared by someone else… accompanied silently by a loved one if possible. My grief times were best when shared with people who would honor my need for silence and honor my need to talk a mile a minute without rushing in to prescribe.

Along those lines – tell people if they are annoying the heck out of you. People who love you will actually appreciate it.

3. Gratitude lists, practiced with heart. Even if your items are: I am grateful for running water. I am grateful my shoe laces haven’t broken yet. I am grateful for the color yellow. Gratitude transforms.

4. Writing and art, creativity in general. Life force will not be denied. Amen, amen to that.

5. Allow yourself the time to feel exactly what you are feeling.

(I am thinking this might be a good blog topic for me to write on!)


Hi Leah,

I am so sorry to hear about your loss – my deepest condolences. My sister died last month and bliss is not the way I would describe my recent feelings either. When I saw your theme, I sighed. Then I thought about it a bit more and decided to focus on the little things that provide me with a sense of Bliss. Even, or maybe especially, when that isn’t my overarching state of mind. It has helped, and time is too (even if the hurt never goes away, it fades). Hope it also helps you.

Big hug.

I lost my mom almost three months ago. Your list is so right on!

Wishing you many moments of bliss among your sadness. It’s good to know you are not alone.

Dearest Leah,

This is such a wise and beautiful post. First of all, I want to say how sorry I am for your loss and sadness and I am holding you and your grief in my heart with great love.

But I also want to say that you are so right. When things are hard or painful it doesn’t mean that we can’t also find places of heartfelt meaning in our experience as well as using that time as a beckoning to listen to ourselves on a whole deeper level.

I can’t tell you how many times I have experienced bliss at the same time as I was letting my tears flow because I was allowing myself to be tender with my own heart.

Thank you for your lovely insights and powerful suggestions.

Big, big love,


I too am sorry for your loss, Leah. I think gentleness is the key for me. Doing what I need or want to do without striving, just allowing, and being soft and gentle with myself. Love to you, O

Leah – sorry to hear of your loss. Love that you are being gentle with yourself! Some of my ways for finding bliss in down times include reading folks on line like you. xo

I’m so sorry for your loss Leah.
I liked your list.
For me, one of the best ways to reconnect to joy when things are tough is to create. Mostly something artistic or crafty though occasionally cooking something really yummy will do it too.
Nature time also helps, as does petting or cuddling a cat.

Thinking of you,

I am so sorry about the loss of your family member, Leah. I think making sad art can be so theapeutic as well, and a way to help ourselves through grieving. Those moments when we escape into the colors, the textures and the imagination can be blissfull as well.
Sending you big cozy hugs !

I am sorry for your loss, Leah. My mother lived with cancer for three months. My father and I strived to bring a happy moment into her life every day while she was still with us. This “bliss” that you refer to kept our family focused on what is important, love, love, and more love. Please visit my blog where you will read about the book I am writing about these happy moments my family shared. These moments turned a difficult time into wonderful, shared memories for our entire family to remember. Your message is powerful-thank you for sharing.

I too am so sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing and for continuing onward. I know for myself, when I feel lost or in pain that is one of the best times for me to just get out a canvas and go crazy with the paint. There’s something really healing and blissful just getting really involved with moving paint around making a mess. Letting my hands take the lead and allowing my head to rest for a while.

May you find peace and love in your difficult time.

may you find rest and peace, lost is suche a big thing to recovery

Very sorry to hear about your loss, Leah. And very impressed you are able to find and share with us such uplifting ways to creatively find the light in the darkness. When I experience loss I automatically become numb and encase myself within a hard impenetrable shell in order to get through it. It is good to try to learn new ways of handling the difficult times. Thank you for your wisdom and insight.

Dear Leah,

I am so sorry to hear this. My heart is wrapped around you and your family.

You are always such a brave, wise, and wonderful girl. I think trying to find bliss–or maybe it just needs a tweak in the definition–not really a discovery– during a time like this, is so incredible.

So much LOVE, LOVE, LOVE to you my friend.

Big hugs,

For me, it can be very simple things that bring solace at low times.
My dogs are a wonderful source of love and affection. I also find that the “comfort foods” of my childhood evoke happy memories. Being in the kitchen and creating a meal is a sort of meditative act that shuts off the ruminating part of my brain.
Last but not least, being outside on my bike and sweating it out helps a lot. As the miles fly by, I leave much of my burden out on the road and it makes me feel lighter.

Try to keep your chin up, Leah. This too shall pass and you will come out on the other side with new appreciation of and compassion for yourself.

It’s so brave of you to continue on with your theme at a time like this, Leah. I’m so sorry for your loss. I hope you’re able to give yourself plenty of time to grieve and heal. I think we’re expected to bounce back from sad situations much too quickly these days, almost as if nothing ever happened.

I’m really sorry to learn of your loss Leah. I know how difficult it can be to carry on in the face of grieving. At the same time, I wanted you to know how much your posts have touched me this month. I did not learn of your loss until today, but your art and your posts have really spoken to me this month. Hang in there and continue to honor yourself and your feelings – you are moving thru the valley and up the mountain each day!



Saddened to hear of your loss. It is okay to take a break from blogging you know… we will wait patiently while you take time out for you and yours.


I’m so sorry about your loss, Leah. I agree, it is important to allow yourself to feel the emotion fully; if you try to move on immediately to happy again, the other stuff is still there, just buried and can pop up at unexpected moments. When I am feeling terribly sad, it is my husband that makes me feel a bit of bliss again. Even though I may be feeling the sadness, he offers me safe space to process my feelings.

my deepest condolences, I am so sorry to hear about your loss Leah. Finding bliss when you are low is so very hard and to dig down deep and come up with this list says so much for your wisdom and well being. Thank you for sharing and may you peace.

xoxoxo sweetie. sending you lots of love and a big, big, hug. so nice how much support you’ve received here. thinking of you.

Sorry to hear you’re going through a hard time, Leah. Your thoughts on looking for bliss during the hard times are profound. Just the practice of a gratitude list has gotten me through times of grieving and other painful emotions. Sending you hugs. xoxo

I lost my father two months ago and know just how difficult it is to find the path through the grief. I found, for myself anyhow, that wrapping my arms around my creative self also kept my dad close.

My thoughts are with you and yours in this time, Leah.

I was sorry to hear about your loss.I had recently lost a good friend this spring,and I was very sad.I think about her all the time,but I know she is in a better place.We just have to go on,time will heal but never completly.my mom told me that my dad always said life is for the living,we will have bliss with our loved again one day.What we do know until then is remember them and think of all the fun times we had.

Dear Leah,

You have given a hint about your encounter with death but have not given details, so I would never assume what this situation means to you. Death comes in many forms and causes many emotions in us.

Withstanding the pain of a death is hard and slow work. Bliss, in this situation, might slowly come from working with the material around the death. Like a carpenter taking salvaged wood and beginning to work with imperfect pieces. You are still creating. It is just different.

One of the things I have seen is that as people begin piecing together a narrative of what happened that they gain perspective on the hidden blessings (sometimes VERY hidden) inherent in their story.

You are a beautiful person, and I hope this loss releases more of your beauty into the world, as the planet needs you.


Oh Leah, I’m so sorry for your loss. Be kind to yourself, take things slow and return to your list often. Remember, bliss can be found in the smallest, seemingly unimportant places, things and actions. But it’s still there.

Sweet and strong Leah! How courageous of you to pick the way of NOT eluding the pain and escaping reality. Thank you so much for sharing this, it gives courage to us all!

I agree with you on the fact that allowing yourself to be sad uncovers the bliss. Because that way you do NOT step out of yourself and keep in touch with your feelings. True bliss is really being connected with your deep self.
For me bliss is also the knowing that I am connected to and supported by the universe. Uncovering the teachings it has in mind for me. And that’s also what you did by daring to see that you didn’t choose this theme accidentally, the universe maybe made you choose it so you would be reminded of bliss in the darker times that were coming up.

You’re a wonderful, strong woman!

Lots of Love,

hi leah
i am so sorry for your loss.
this post is beautiful and so true.
you are always helping others even when you
do not feel good.
you are so special.


I’m really sorry for your loss Leah, you and your family are in my prayers.

I’ve been feeling really sad angry and frustrated this week. It’s been so bad that I’ve been moved to write poetry again. A lot of the poems were really sad and depressing but just getting out the negative feelings and seeing that I still know how to write poems paved the way for some bits of bliss in my day. It resulted in a short and sweet haiku that I posted on my blog about one of the things that give me bliss.

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