How to Lead Yourself to Bliss

Dr. Beverly Potter
Copyright material.  See notice at bottom

What is Bliss?
A phenomenon called the "flow state" is experienced when you are so involved in what you are doing that you forget yourself in the activity and it flows almost effortlessly.

You've probably experienced flow when dancing, for example, where you and the music are one and your movements seem to be almost spontaneous. FlowÑor blissÑis a refueling experience where you feel good and are filled with stamina while performing at your peak.

While it may surprise you at first thought, research has revealed that bliss is experienced more often at work than at leisure. Further, there are actions you can take to increase your moments of bliss at work. How you tackle your daily activities determines whether you'll have many moments of blissÑor burnout.

Find a Path to Your Bliss
To increase bliss you must be a pathfinder to find a path with a heart in your work. There are three pathfinding challenges. First is setting your course where you decide where you aim to go and what you seek to achieve.  Next is staying the course where you develop a method for assessing progress in order to course correct and by-pass obstacles. Last is traversing the course where you pilot your pathfinding adventure from here to achieving your purposeÑyour destinyÑwhile following a path with a heartÑa path of many blissful moments.

Following are pathfinding challenges and the steps for leading yourself through each challenge. This is a map for having a bliss-filled journey as you travel from where you are to where you want to go.

Challenge I: Setting Your Course
Setting the course is the initial challenge of personal leadership.  Finding a path with a heart involves matching what is really important to you with what must be achieved to define your mission and to develop a vision of what you want to accomplish and where you want to go.

    Get Centered: Finding a path with a heart, your path to bliss, begins with yourself and looking  inward to discover what is important to you.  This process is commonly called Ògetting centered.Ó  Without a center to begin from, you can easily lose a sense of who you are and where you want to go with your life.

    Define Your Purpose: It is from a sense of purpose that you can draw confidence to act.  Without purpose, there is little meaning, so that you can find yourself working aimlessly and wondering why you should bother. Conversely, working with purpose adds ÒheartÓ to what you do.

    Decide on a Direction: With a purpose and an idea of how to achieve it, you can set a direction for finding a path with a heart.  Decide on your direction by imagining a desirable futureÑyour destinationÑand moving toward it.

    Set Goals: Having a specific target to shoot for focuses your efforts.  When you know what youÕre aiming for, and achieve it, your confidence increases.  Accomplishing goals that match your skills and stretch your capabilities promotes bliss.

Challenge II: Staying the Course
Accomplishing anything important is usually complicated with many steps.  It is easy to get off course or to become blocked by obstacles.  Staying on the course takes persistence and skill in course correction.

    Establish Milestones: Milestones are markers on the way to your destination.  They help you lead yourself along your path in a series of easily achievable steps.  By counting the milestones youÕve reached you can see how far youÕve traveled.

    Think Flexibly: Finding a path with a heart involves different kinds of activities.  Sometimes you must brainstorm possibilities, at other times you need to evaluate progress.  Getting othersÕ cooperation takes a supportive approach, whereas clarifying your values taps your intuition.  Optimizing calls on different mindsets for each activity.

    Correct Your Course: You move in a general direction but rarely in a straight line.  Getting off course is easy to do, and happens frequently.  Expect it.  WhatÕs important for pathfinding is knowing when youÕre off course and taking action to correct the course. This is accomplished by checking your progress often.

    By-Pass Obstacles: Encountering obstacles is inevitable. Successful pathfinders transform obstacles in their path into opportunities, by challenging assumptions and changing what they do in order to by-pass the roadblock.

Challenge III: Traversing the Course
Getting from where you are to your destination and accomplishing your mission takes motivation and help from others.  YouÕve got to get yourself and others moving, and keep the momentum. You guide the process by focusing on your destination and making many choices.

    Get Cooperation: No one is an island, and neither are you. Other people can help or hinder your progress. Accomplishing anything of consequence involves getting othersÕ cooperation.

    Motivate Yourself: It is easy to lose momentum.  Pathfinders keep motivation high by creating meaningfulness and building enthusiasm for accomplishing their mission. They reward themselves for progress.

    Enjoy the Moment: Having many moments of bliss assumes that you have the capacity to become so immersed in what you are doing that you lose yourself and feel at ÒoneÓ with the activity at hand.

    Pilot Your Journey: The personal leader guides and manages the process of finding a path with a heart. Like pilots, pathfinders steer themselves, deciding when to take which action, when to move forward, when to hold back, and how to best get around obstacles and stay the course.

Copyright 1997: Beverly A. Potter, excerpted from Finding a Path With a Heart: How to Go From Burnout to Bliss, Ronin Publishing,
Berkeley, Ca. Permission is required to reprint this material.  Contact: RONIN. POB 22900, Oakland CA 94609 , Fax 510/420-3672,