In my previous post I mentioned that there are a few times and places in the past when I’ve felt like I’m just where I’m supposed to be, despite all the incompleteness of life. There might be chaos around me, but at the same time there is an exceptional calmness and focus inside. Like time would stop.
I began to think about this feeling more deeply and one word came to my mind: “bliss”. A word that I don’t actually even like. It has this rosy decoration around it and it sounds like a sloppy kiss. Nevertheless, bliss can be understood as a state of inner joy and contentment, despite the outside circumstances. During these blissful times, I’ve been happy with who I am and what I have, regardless of my accomplishments.
So what does it require to enter the state of bliss? In order to find out, I had to revisit three blissful stories from the past:
Story 1: Australia
When I was 18, I spent a year in Australia. The idea was very simple (and very unoriginal): to experience as much as possible with as little as possible. The year was marked by long days under the sun picking bananas, afternoons of cheap boxed wine called goon (“produced with the aid of milk, egg, nut and fish products and traces may remain”) and nights of starry skies in the outback. I returned to Finland with the same clothes I left with and had a thousand Australian dollars wrapped in a roll in my backpack.
Story 2: Lisbon
At the age of 25 I lived in Lisbon, Portugal. I had my own “Carrie Bradshaw” apartment in the middle of the city. The apartment was on the top floor and had a french balcony. Lisbon years were marked by long nights of writing my master’s thesis, afternoons of cheap bottled wine (fresh and light Vinho Verde) and mornings of long walks in the nearby park. I returned to Finland, but my heart stayed in Lisbon for quite some time.
Story 3: Sri Lanka
When I was 28, I traveled to Sri Lanka for three months. I quit my job and had only thousand euros on my account. Those months were marked by mornings of washing laundry the old-fashioned way, afternoons of writing my blog and evenings of cooking spicy curries and drinking arrack, a delicious coconut liquor. I returned to Finland wondering why walking around barefoot and losing the track of time had felt so good.
So what can we reason from these stories? That I’ve been the happiest when I’ve had the least in terms of money? Or that memories grow sweeter with alcohol? Well, not quite, but it seems that there is something to minimalism after all. And that nature has an effect on my mood and my ability to be present. Later on I’ve had this peaceful feeling in Lapland as well, so it’s not only about holidays, sun and booze.
But why is this important? Well, when I feel happiness, I am able to let go of control and planning. And when I let go of control and planning, I begin to create. In Lisbon, I immersed myself into writing and eventually got my thesis published. At the same time I also began to work towards my own Portuguese coffee shop. In Sri Lanka I launched this blog, started writing a cook book and learned to code. And in Australia…well, there I just felt happy. And most likely destroyed many of my creative brain cells with that “wine”.
Many of these ideas are already forgotten or might never happen. But that’s not the point. The point is to feel energetic and blissful enough to create something new. But when we are under pressure, tired or living in limbo, there is no space for innovation. My newest idea, and the mission of my company, is to bring a piece of these creative jungles to Finnish workplaces so that more ideas can grow.
And in the future, I’ll definitely copy this idea from Stefan Sagmeister.