thoughts on “the airplane feeling”

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The “airplane feeling” is something I vividly encountered on a flight home from a trip last year with Mr. Lively. For several hours I was overcome with pure joy, gratitude, and love.

Granted, I did not actually experience the trip itself that way. It was filled with the usual mix of fun, excitement, boredom, and contemplation. But that trip back was a… transcendent experience.

Though it’s pretty hard to describe, I can only say that my heart was overflowing. Euphoric.

On other recent trips I have had similar experiences on return flights. And after our Thanksgiving family weekend I was again overcome with love and connection.

Until recently, the airplane feelings, or Holy Instants according to A Course in Miracles, were generally experienced after the fact. Though my mind was not euphoric in the actual moments themselves, I could experience an intense peace and joy afterward.

However, now that I’m feeling more like my old self again and I have made service my biggest priority, I’m starting to experience the airplane effect in actual everyday life.

Though it’s not a constant stream of bliss, I have peeks, moments, and hours where I feel a universal connection very similar to the airplane feeling.

This has been surprising to me because I had become accustomed to expecting the bliss to come after a great experience, not during my daily routine.

Yet the same day that I switched back to my old birth control, I felt the airplane feeling while exfoliating things in the apartment. I felt as much happiness while cleaning as I did when Mr. Lively and I got married.

For a while I brushed the happiness off as a positive reaction to being off the ill-suited prescription.

But as I turn my attention toward service as my ultimate success metric, the airplane effect is returning daily. Sometimes for moments, sometimes for hours.

Though this hardly sounds earth-shattering, I honestly had no idea that this would be a side effect of my new priorities. Looking at it objectively now, it’s easy to understand that by focusing on what I have to offer rather than what I have yet to achieve, I would feel happier, lighter, and more loving.

And on the flip side, now that I have made this connection, it has become easier for me to spot when I stray from this mission. The airplane feelings get replaced by lingering worry, doubt, or fear.

When this happens, I’m beginning to train myself to reflect on what I have chosen to think about or value that is incongruent with the positive motivations that bring about the loving feelings.

There have even been a handful of times in the past week where I’ve been able to look back on the day and see where I chose to value a thought of separation more than connection to my purpose or others. Once I let go of the thought that is leading to the separation, the fuzzy feeling returns.

Though I am really just beginning to put these pieces together and truly understand what I’m experiencing, I wanted to share what I’ve observed so far.


Thank you for reading. I hope you have a great weekend!

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  1. I’m so happy to hear that you’re getting the “airplane feeling” more often! I am, too. It’s like a euphoria that accompanies new beginnings. Here’s to a fantastic 2013!

    1. Jess Lively

      Aw, thank you so much! Your site is adorable!

  2. Lauren

    Hi Jess!
    I’ve been following your blog for about a year now, and I must say, this is my favorite post of yours yet. My thoughts and experiences have been pretty spot on with this lately, having just returned back to LA from a holiday trip home to Florida where I did a lot of soul (and happiness) searching. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Jess Lively

      I’m happy to hear you liked this post! I hope to share more about this feeling and things that bring it about in the future!

      Have a great day!

  3. nikkiana

    I would have never thought to call it the “airplane feeling” but I know the feeling well. I might call it the “bus feeling” too because I’m definitely feeling it right this minute on my bus ride home to NYC after a week in New England.

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