When we think of habits, we tend to focus on the ones we’d like to change.  Things like ‘I need to stop biting my nails’ or ‘I’ve got to stop picking my split ends’ come to mind.  But what if the habits we created had the power to bring us joy? And what if everything we needed to develop that practice was already inside us, waiting to be honed, waiting to be shared?

When Anne Sussman, Meditation Instructor, first started pairing up women’s weekend Campers to join a shared gratitude challenge, she was just interested in helping others get in the habit of finding things to be grateful for each day.  Instead, her idea transformed into a vehicle with the power to turn strangers into friends, and transform the way others lived their lives.

“You create something, and then to actually feel the effects of that, is incredible,” Anne said. “It’s also crazy that Jana [Schey] has become one of my closest friends — even though I’ve only been with her in person twice!”

Jana Schey, Anne’s original Bliss Buddy, first attended a Campowerment women’s weekend in March of 2014, when the writing a book about “The Bliss Buddy Project” was just a far-off idea in Anne Sussman’s mind.  Nevertheless, when an odd-numbered group of people said they were interested in participating in a shared gratitude practice after their very first Circle upon arriving, Jana wound up as Anne’s partner.

The concept of a Bliss Buddy is simple: you and another person connect daily to share one thing you are grateful for each day.  This first challenge was for 30 days.

“As it turns out, we went beyond the three weeks,” Jana said, of her exchange with Anne, “And then it became a little sporadic, but we’ve doing it ever since. So this is nearly five years later.

Jana continued, “The interesting thing is I usually think of Anne every day, because I’ll notice something and think: I should tell Anne.  So it’s become not just about the gratitude, but about that connection.”

This shared gratitude practice taught Jana to get in the habit of noticing all the little things each day, and get away from the idea that only the big, monumental things matter.  To her surprise and delight, Jana found that it’s really those little things that go into making up a life.  Over time, Jana and Anne’s practice morphed into a friendship — an optional but not guaranteed byproduct of a practice designed to expand bliss. Somewhere along the way, they added more context to their exchanges — mixing in admission of tribulations with their reporting on triumphs. (Funny enough, though: it took two years for Anne, who knew right well that Jana had a thriving career, to even wonder what industry she even worked in!).

When Anne began writing her book, aptly titled “The Bliss Buddy Project- How Sharing Gratitude Increases Joy,” she reached out to Jana, and Jana was initially just happy to provide a quote.

“Then she told me was going to dedicate [her first book] to me, and I was really touched,”  Jana said. “ I got the book and I realized how much our relationship had really permeated it…and I was just…happy.”

Think you might want a Bliss Buddy of your own? Email anne@mindfulnessmeetingplace.com and she can help you find one!