From an early age, we’re led to believe that nothing is more satisfying than finding happiness. But happiness is so elusive and intangible.
Plus, happiness is different for everyone, so how do you know when you find it? And is there something out there that can make you feel even better than happiness?
Yes! It’s called having a sense of fulfillment. Yet, what is that exactly, and how do you get it? That’s what we’re here today to find out.
So, keep reading to learn how you can stop chasing happiness to find fulfillment instead.
Happiness vs. Fulfillment
Take a look at this quick overview of happiness vs. fulfillment.
Happiness includes feelings like contentment, excitement, and joy. But they’re all temporary.
Sure, it feels nice while it lasts, but other emotions take over, like anger, fear, and anxiety.
The trap many of us fall into is that we believe we’ll reach our point of happiness when we achieve certain things in our lives.
We say things like, “If I buy that shiny, red car, I’ll be happy.” or “Once I have my own house, I’ll finally be happy.”
Of course, you’ll be happy! But that happiness can only last so much. After that, reality sets in, especially when the bills start coming in.
Another problem with happiness is that we often view it in terms of other people. So we compare our lives to theirs, which is never a good idea.
No one knows what’s going on in other people's lives. So it’s not fair to compare only the good parts. It sends you on a loop of perpetual disappointment. The only person you should compare yourself to is you.
When you pursue the things that really matter to you, you bring fulfillment into your life. Fulfillment is when you take actionable steps towards the things you value. Part of it is also achieving goals that were set up based on these core values.
Living your life with a consistent set of values allows you to have integrity towards who you truly are. It also allows you more control over your emotions and thoughts.
This makes it possible to bring the locus of control inward. Thus, you feel stronger and more empowered.
The bottom line is that happiness is dependent on external factors. Many of these factors are material and likely to change at any moment.
Fulfillment, on the other hand, is internally driven. You’re the one who determines what means more to you, and then by going after it, you elevate the levels of fulfillment in your life.
How To Find Fulfillment
You can find fulfillment in many ways. But you have to choose to see it in every experience and situation in your life, especially those that don’t go your way.
It sounds more challenging than it really is, but it’s actually relatively easy once you know what you’re doing. And it’s way more rewarding and empowering than chasing the ever-fleeting feeling of happiness.
Here are some ways to find fulfillment and bring meaning to your life.
The great philosopher, Socrates, said, “Know Thyself” to encourage his students to look inward when searching for the meaning of life. So then, when you know your true nature, you can find fulfillment because you know your true self-worth.
You can do that by thinking of a moment when you felt most fulfilled. What about that specific event made you feel this way?
The more you know about yourself, the more fulfillment you’ll find in life. Remember, fulfillment isn’t about having a nice house or the latest fashion. It’s much deeper than that and much more nuanced.
It just takes a bit of soul searching.
Helping others is one of the best ways to fill your life with fulfillment. You feel good by volunteering your time or money to help someone in need.
The science behind it is that helping others boosts the release of ‘feel-good’ chemicals in our brains. Some of these include hormones, such as dopamine and serotonin.
So, whether you’re helping a friend move or helping out at a local soup kitchen, you’re bringing joy and ease into other people’s lives. Not only that, but you’re also making yourself feel more fulfilled.
Surrounding yourself with a healthy, supportive social circle allows you to feel connected to something. In addition, being part of something fosters a sense of fulfillment in your life.
You have people you can talk to anytime you feel sad or stressed out. Consequently, you don’t suffer from any feelings of isolation, disconnection, or separation.
Having a sense of gratitude can help you see the purpose in life and feel like you’re connected to a greater good. Gratitude also boosts your overall health and encourages positive emotions, which can come in handy when you’re going through a tough time.
It also motivates you to strive for more. Yet, when there’s a setback, you focus more on what you have and what you’ve accomplished rather than wallowing in your losses.
Being thankful each day can help you overcome difficult times and give you the support you need to get back up and keep trying to reach your potential.
Keep in mind that if you’re not okay with what you don’t have, you’ll never appreciate what you do have.