Jacqueline Beckley heads a product development group and helped design a study sponsored by McCormick (the spice company). The study was called “Crave It!” and was “one attempt to find out what gets people excited about certain foods.” (The End of Overeating, Dr. David Kessler, p. 126) Food manufacturers and restaurants design foods to be craveable. When asked what makes a hamburger craveable, Beckley responded, “A hamburger has all the required flavors, all the texture. It gets you excited, gets your juices running. You begin to chew through it, you feel alive. It suspends time for a brief moment. . .craveability is about the body. Your body is trying to modulate its happiness. It is trying to get to a state of bliss.” (Ibid.)
Is it any wonder our country has a problem with obesity and other countries aren’t far behind. There are entire industries pooling their resources to pursue our hard wired need to experience bliss. It’s not enough to say, “Well, just resist,” because we are bombarded with seductive invitations to literally feed that bliss everywhere we go.
What else can feed this bliss our bodies and spirits so desperately crave. I know it may not sound as thrilling as a hot fudge sundae (Norm’s anyone?), but the practices of our faith tradition can be a place where we experience bliss. Granted, the experience is sometimes fleeting, moments long, but so is the experience of a hamburgers with bacon and cheese.
When I read that sentence, “it is trying to get to a state of bliss,” I thought, “That is one purpose of spiritual practices, at least I think it is.” There are numerous ways we try to comfort ourselves: watching TV, eating, shopping, etc. Could we see that blissful moments are available to us in worship, in prayer, in the study of the scriptures? If we gave ourselves over to worship the way we might immerse ourselves in the experience of a hot fudge sundae, what would our experience of worship be like? If we could anticipate being with other Christians in study, the way we look forward to a TCU or LSU game, would learning be more engaging, more fun?
“Follow your bliss” is a phrase used to encourage people to do what brings them joy, lasting joy. I will be going to Norm’s for a hot fudge sundae at some point, but what sustains me and stokes the embers of lasting joy is prayerful reading of the scriptures (four stranded garland – email me for instructions), music as an expression of connection with God, practicing Reiki and more. What opens you to a state of bliss? What modulates your happiness? Your Christian faith is on the menu of choices.
Because I’m not convinced anyone reads these articles, let me know by email or phone call or in person that you did. And let me know if it was interesting, boring, helpful, confusing, clear, etc.