Bliss: Writing to Find Your True Self

Katherine M. Ramsland, Author Walking Stick Press $14.99 (192p) ISBN 978-0-89879-975-0
With advanced degrees in psychology and philosophy, Ramsland (Prism of the Night: A Biography of Anne Rice, etc.) is well equipped to guide the reader through a series of thoughtful exercises as a means to finding greater fulfillment in life and work--or what she calls achieving bliss. Ramsland paints a tantalizing picture of what finding bliss could be like, but she is careful to point out that achieving it is not an easy process. In fact, sometimes having a particular gift or talent can actually mislead people as to where there bliss lies. As an example, she tells the story of Anne Lamott, author of the bestselling Traveling Miracles, who, as an excellent athlete, originally thought she would make a career out of competitive tennis. But finally she realized she didn't enjoy playing tennis anymore--and with her decision to give up the sport, the migraine headaches that had long afflicted her ceased and she was able to focus on a new direction: writing. While it is not Ramsland's aim to turn all of her readers into successful writers, writing is an important part of her program. She employs journaling (or introspective writing exercises) to help each reader reach a greater level of clarity, and her exercises require a sizable commitment of time and energy. What makes this book stand out is the care Ramsland uses to explain her methodology: she provides a solid foundation for understanding the concept of bliss (from Aristotle to Carl Jung to Joseph Campbell), and ""present[s] the stages of psychological development involved in finding bliss and offer[s] tools for getting through each stage."" From the first task of clarifying one's values to learning how to overcome various obstacles (fear of failure or success; inertia) to trusting one's instincts and maintaining the ""flow"" that accompanies heightened self-awareness, a nurturing and pragmatic Ramsland matches her reader step by step. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 09/04/2000
Release date: 09/01/2000
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