Put More Bliss in Your Life

Bliss is good for the mind, body, and for warding off distractions
By Lawrence W. Reed, FEE.org
September 26, 2019 Updated: September 26, 2019

“You can’t buy happiness but you can buy fishing gear, and that’s kind of the same thing,” or so said an unknown author.

As always, a week in the glorious wilds of Montana will be the calmest, most relaxing, and rejuvenating seven days of my year. I’ll think of it at least once every 24 hours until I go again next year. We’ll hike, spot moose and deer (and a bear if we’re really lucky), devour our own cabin-cooked food, and solve many of the world’s problems over a campfire with cigars and liquid refreshments. But I know the best moments will find us in the water with rod and reel in hand.

“Fishing” isn’t the best term for what we’ll be doing. We’ll be “angling.” Fishing is the generic word for catching fish, which can be accomplished with or without a rod and reel. For instance, you can catch a fish with string, with a club, with a net, with a spear, with dynamite, or even with your bare hands.

An angler uses a rod, a reel and, at the end of a line, a lure with a hook in it. The lures we’re using in Montana are “flies” with names like “hopper,” “nymph,” and “midge”—man-made imitations of insects. We’ll wade into streams up to our waists, stalk our prey, revel in the sheer beauty of a perfect cast and plant each fly where a trout can’t resist it. We’ll release most of what we catch but save a few for dinner.

Why do we love doing this? I’ll speak for myself but I’m pretty sure Robert, Javi, and Tyler will agree: It’s sheer bliss. We all need bliss. Bliss is good for the mind and body. It’s the antidote to the unabating bombardment of noise, stress, and distractions we deal with the other 51 weeks of the year.

Nearly 400 years ago, an Englishman named Izaak Walton wrote a classic about fly fishing. “No book, apart from the Bible and the Book of Common Prayer,” claims one reviewer, “has been more often reprinted.” Titled The Compleat Angler and modernized in more recent editions as The Complete Angler, the first edition appeared in 1653. The book exudes praise for this remarkable pastime:

“God never did make a more calm, quiet, innocent recreation than angling.”

“You will find angling … [to have] a calmness of spirit and a world of blessing attending upon it.”

“Blessings upon all that hate contention, and love quietness, and virtue, and angling.”

“Doubt not but angling is so pleasant that it will prove to be, like virtue, a reward to itself.”

Maybe fly fishing isn’t your thing. For bliss, maybe you listen to classical music or lie on a beach, read a good book, or do a little yoga. That, of course, is perfectly alright. Life is personal and value is subjective. By whatever means you choose, I hope bliss is on your agenda.

Take the time to tune into a sustained experience of joy.

Be assured that when you get back to the grind in a few days, there’ll be plenty of noise, stress, and distraction. Getting away from it for a spell helps keeps it in check.

Lawrence W. Reed is president emeritus, Humphreys Family senior fellow, and Ron Manners ambassador for Global Liberty at the Foundation for Economic Education. He is also the author of “Real Heroes: Incredible True Stories of Courage, Character, and Conviction” and “Excuse Me, Professor: Challenging the Myths of Progressivism.” This article was originally published on FEE.org