If not now, when?
“To be able to look back upon ones life in satisfaction, is to live twice.” Kahlil Gibran
Let’s play a game, shall we?
Think for a moment about how happy you currently are in life. On a scale of one to one hundred, one hundred being the absolute maximum, how happy are you today?
Now, let me ask you another question.
Are you fulfilled with where you’re at in life? Interesting nuance, isn’t it?
What if I was to offer you the following two options to choose from.
On the one hand, I’ll give you all the happiness that you want for the rest of your life.
In the other hand, I’ll give you fulfillment.
Now, remember, you can only choose one. Which one sounds best? Tough one, hey?
What is it that makes us feel happy in life? Are we happy when we get stuff? Is happiness connected to us getting something, like a new car, a new job, a hug or a win?
What about fulfillment? Does fulfillment come from getting things or are we more likely to be fulfilled when giving something rather than being on the receiving end? By giving, I don’t only mean material things but also love, knowledge, time and so on.
What I’ve realized is that happiness is temporal; it comes and goes. Fulfillment though, is more likely to be constant, to last longer. Does this sound fair to you?
To me, happiness is a subjective feeling. Fulfilment in the other hand, goes beyond personal reach; it is more about our contribution, our legacy.
We might be happy today and not necessarily be fulfilled, right? Can we be fulfilled and not happy though? Humm, my head is sore.
We might have everything that we need for today, but we might not necessarily have everything that we want, right? Do you find yourself focusing on the things that you want rather than being grateful for the things that you have? Aren’t we all guilty of doing this?
I regularly see this trend in my clients. It seems to be one of the most common mistake people make in life. They focus on what they want most in the future, all the stuff that they don’t have in the present, while completely devaluing, unappreciative of what it is that they have today, in the present.
Why is that?
Why is it that we keep chasing better outcomes, bigger dreams, to the point of almost repressing our appreciation for today and desires for pleasure? Kids are very good at being happy. What then goes wrong when we reach adulthood?
The good news is that we haven’t lost the plot. Recent neuroscience studies confirm that to be truly happy, one will always need something more. In seeking more, we release dopamine, a neurotransmitter linked to reward and pleasure.
The innate human desire to seek means that we can never truly feel that every desire and wish has been met. There will never be an end to the things we want to achieve and see, except when we’re dead maybe. But the fact that we don’t have everything we want is exactly what makes life so fulfilling, as it provides us with endless opportunities to challenge ourselves and grow.
In other words, as we achieve more success, expectations and desires rise in tandem. The result is never feeling satisfied — achieving no permanent gain in happiness.
But then, if accomplishments and successes — money, fame, love — won’t make you happier over the long-term, does that mean there’s no sense working towards them?
I can’t answer this for you unfortunately. To me, happiness is a state of mind. When I do the things that I love as often as I can, I feel greater happiness.
I also find that since becoming a coach and contributing to the growth and wellbeing of people I work with, I feel so much better about my life. It seems that most people want to be part of something greater than they are, simply because it's fulfilling, would you agree?
Following my gut and listening to my heart also made a big difference in feeling more fulfilled. You may have heard of mBraining or ‘mBIT’ (multiple Brain Integration Techniques). Recent neuroscience findings explain that we have at least three brains – one each in our head, heart and gut. mBraining suggests that we can have far better outcomes if we practice accessing all the resources in our head, gut and heart.
At the end of the day, you are the only one who knows what fills you up. Following your gut intuition, your heart-felt emotions, and your head-based creative powers will certainly help you in your quest for fulfillment. Your family and friends may have an opinion on what they think is best for you but if it doesn’t float your boat, you might eventually end up feeling like you are swimming upstream.
Happiness and fulfillment are within your grasp, but sometimes just out of reach. Understanding what works best for you is the first step in finding more of it.
Remember, you are what you do, not what you say you’ll do. Start creating a life that appropriately encourages you to choose a level of discomfort that is necessary for your growth and for sustaining a deeper fulfillment. You deserve to be happy — and you also deserve to know how to be fulfilled.
What is stopping you from being fulfilled? If you don’t know, I’d love to help you find out.