I first learned about a bliss book from Sylvia van Bruggen during a workshop at the Muse Online Writers Conference. (Follow her now on Leap to Joy.)
What is bliss? Complete happiness, undisturbed by gain or loss.
What is a Bliss Book? In simplicity: a book that makes you happy.
Whenever I feel my writing sucks, or am generally depressed, I can open my bliss book and bring on a smile. I have words of encouragement about my writing, quotes, lists of favorite things, and I’m always on the lookout for pictures to clip from magazines.
The most important rule is no negativity allowed.
CREATING YOUR OWN BLISS BOOK
Make or buy a pretty journal or notebook. I use a lovely illustrated fairy journal.
Write up a purpose page. What do you want from this book? Here’s what I wrote in mine: Fears have no power here. My bliss book is my quiet place. A way to center myself and find my muse. Smile. Play. Be Free. Free my muse; free my writing; free me from doubt and fear; free me from burdens that I may fly.
Add something regularly. Anything that makes you happy. Ideas: lists, pictures, doodles, quotes, stickers, poems, mantras
I also have a gratitude page (well, multiple sections at this point). Anytime I lose sight of the good things in life, sucked down in negativity, I can search for something to add to this page. There is ALWAYS something to be grateful for, even in our darkest hours.
Open your book! When you’re in a slump, or forget your motivations for doing what you love (whether that be writing, or parenting, or running). Read it front to back, or open to a random page. Let it inspire you once more.
You can expand this idea of bliss into other forms. A bliss box, a bliss room. Anything or anywhere filled with things that inspire and lift you up.
Coloring as Therapy
I first got into coloring as an adult about five years ago, when I was working at CaptionCall. The job consisted of transcribing live phone calls, using a voice recognition service. So I would hear one side of a conversation, echoing it back in a monotone voice so the software could show it back to the hard of hearing person on the other side of the line. As far as phone jobs go, it was a good one - I didn't talk directly to people, didn't have to answer questions, and felt good about the service helping those in need. But it really wasn't a job I enjoyed. It was stressful trying to keep up with the conversation, could get very mindless, and I wasn't used to talking so much.
What got me through my shift ended up being coloring. Sometimes reading between calls was hard because you didn't have enough time to get into a book, but I could easily grab a pencil and fill in a section. I found it helped me with the stress, and helped the day go faster. And I really enjoyed my new hobby. I even bought a new bag for work that had room for a colored pencil organizer.
When I got my job at a library, my coloring did slow down. But my passion didn't. I still collect books from my favorite artists. And situations like these are great reminders to step back and find time for myself. I even pulled out my new clipfolio and colored during a webinar video I watched for work.
When to Color
I like to multitask while I color. Listen to an audio book or podcast, watch tv, or even during work when appropriate (webinars, conference calls). It's not using the language part of your brain so you can be creative and still pay attention to something else.
Here are links to my favorite artists. They all have sample pages you can print out for free. You can see some of my own completed pages of theirs below. Many coloring book artists also have groups on Facebook where you can share your finished work and connect to other coloring peeps. One place I don't recommend finding coloring pages is Pinterest. Often, those are not authorized freebies. Support the artists!
Selina Fenech - link to free sampler
Johanna Basford - link to free pages
Hannah Lynn - link to sample book
Some of my Finished Pages
Below: First three are from ColorIt. Second group is Hannah Lynn. Third group is Johanna Basford. Final group is Selina Fenech.