Fulfillment. Now there’s a word I hear over and over again in my coaching practice. But, it’s also a key element of my own life purpose – living a fulfilling life and I state it as such, “I have balance, love, joy, peace, happiness, and freedom as well as a sense of meaning and fulfillment in my life.” But what exactly is fulfillment and isn’t it the same as happiness or contentment?
Why does finding fulfillment seem like an elusive dream, something we all seek, and yet, it's a battle to pin down? Is it something to be found in the external world or is it part of the inner journey so many of us embark on as we strive to find a better life for ourselves?
Keep reading as I share my thoughts about fulfillment and discover what steps you can take to start living a fulfilling life.
What is the Meaning of Fulfillment?
I always turn to the Oxford Dictionary first when looking for the meaning of something. In this case, fulfillment is described as, “the achievement of something desired, promised, or predicted.” Short and sweet but not really a satisfying answer as far as I am concerned!
The Cambridge Dictionary defines fulfillment as, “a feeling of pleasure and satisfaction because you are happy with your life.” Yes, I can imagine that’s how I will feel when my life is fulfilling. Does this mean that fulfillment is the same as happiness?
According to this site, happiness is an emotion while fulfillment is a state of being. It describes being in a state of balance and sustainability. Happiness is a temporary feeling that can be obtained in a number of ways, not all good.
Speak to any addict who finds a moment of happiness when they indulge, only to plummet into despair once more when the mind-altering effect wears off.
Fulfillment is permanent. While you’ll still face ups and downs, sadness and joy, pain and pleasure, being in a state of fulfillment allows you to ride through the storms relatively calmly. Emotionally stable people understand this concept well although this trait doesn’t automatically guarantee them a fulfilling life.
After all, you still need meaning or purpose that makes you want to get out of bed every day and face the peaks and valleys that comes with your journey through life. Knowing your purpose can give you a sense of fulfillment but choosing to face life with a different approach also helps. And, that takes courage and a willingness to change the way you do life.
7 Courageous Steps to Finding Fulfillment in Your Life
1. Stop Struggling and Opposing
If you’re always struggling and opposing what life dishes up for you, you’re in resistance. You’re fighting because you’re in so much pain – things aren’t going your way but instead of surrendering, you continue to oppose.
Why? Are you afraid of getting hurt again? Or, do you struggle to drop the control game? Either way, your life has turned into a battlefield.
If you continue to struggle and oppose everyone and everything, you’ll never feel fulfilled. That’s a given. However, if you’re serious about seeking fulfillment, you need to forgive yourself. Forgiving yourself allows you to let go of all the hurts, anger, sorrow, and pain. It lets you stop struggling and opposing and instead, start going with the natural flow of life.
Agreeing to drop the struggling and opposing is the first step to fulfillment.
2. Say Yes More Often
Okay, you’ve been told to say no instead of yes to protect your boundaries but how often does it result in you turning down opportunities that could grow and develop you? Think carefully here – did you just say no to that person, that opportunity, that adventure merely because it felt threatening? Perhaps your ego was getting in the way here…
Saying no is absolutely vital for healthy boundaries as long as it serves you and the greater good. When you truly know who you are and what you want you can start learning to say yes more often. Saying yes allows you to step out of your comfort zone and join in with all the infinite possibilities life has to offer you.
Say yes, the next time your BFF invites you on a road trip unexpectedly or when your daughter asks you to be at the birth of your grandchild (even though you’re squeamish!) How about that adventure your partner’s been wanting to take for years but life has “got in the way?”
If you don’t say yes now the opportunity could slip through your fingers and you’ll miss out on amazing experiences.
Learning to say yes more often (and accepting what is) is the second step to fulfillment.
3. Don’t Be Overly Judgemental
Being judgmental is a human condition. I believe each one of us is guilty of being critical of someone else (or ourselves) whenever we feel threatened or insecure. But, being overly judgmental is taking things a bit too far!
We judge to avoid unpleasant feelings of inferiority and shame. By projecting our negative emotions onto another person, we can pretend to feel a whole lot better about ourselves. It’s a natural response when we’re feeling vulnerable or exposed. However, when we’re overly judgmental we need to do some shadow work if we want to fully heal and live a fulfilling life.
You can choose to not fall into a vicious cycle of judgment. Understanding why you’re judging others allows you to go inwards and explore what’s really driving your negative behavior. The more you tackle your shadow, the less you judge.
But, every now and then it’s going to happen and that’s okay as long as you recognize it for what it is and choose to resist being overly judgmental.
The third step to fulfillment is choosing to resist being overly judgmental.
4. Avoid Stressing Others and Yourself
Stress is the result of struggle so go back to step one if you’re wondering why you’re stressed all the time! This step though is about avoiding causing others stress as well as yourself. This takes self-awareness to get right and understanding why you’re causing another person to worry or become anxious on your behalf.
If you’re doing any of the following, you’re likely causing stress to another person:
Talking over and over again about your fears
Harping on about a situation or person that upsets you
Refusing to be open-minded and seeing another person’s perspective
There are many other examples but these are things I used to do with people close to me, not realizing I was causing them to worry about me. Instead, I could have chosen to share my fears with my therapist, hire a life coach to change my negative thought patterns, or reassure the other person that they don’t have to shoulder my burdens. All they have to do is listen.
Choosing to be self-aware and avoiding stress in those you love as well as in yourself is step four to living a fulfilling life.
5. Walk Away From Negative Situations
Are you prone to drama and often find yourself in negative situations that leave you feeling overwhelmed, stressed, and exhausted? Choosing to stay in a negative situation takes you as far away as possible from ever being in a state of fulfillment! And, while it’s not always easy to walk away from bad situations overnight, making it a priority is something you can do.
Walking away from negative situations is a choice and oftentimes, it takes courage to do it. But, if you’re serious about living a fulfilling life, you need to do it. If you can’t walk away from it fully, choose to limit the amount of time you spend in such a situation.
If it’s a family member that you can’t always avoid, strong boundaries will help to mitigate negative outcomes. Walking away from abusive relationships isn’t always simple but getting the right help and support will empower you to take that first step. Standing up for yourself and speaking up helps you to manage negative conversations in a constructive manner.
Choosing to not engage in negative situations is the fifth step to fulfillment.
6. Show Acts of Loving-Kindness
I truly believe love conquers all and showing acts of loving-kindness is key to living a fulfilling life. However, it starts with you, and being loving towards yourself is essential if you want to demonstrate the same to others without any resentment or need for approval.
Showing acts of love and kindness makes the world go around. Through compassion, gentleness, and genuine warmth, you can alleviate feelings of anxiety and fear in both yourself and others. Expressing your love and following it through with loving actions not only serves for the greater good but it comes back multiplied to you.
Practicing loving-kindness has been shown to:
Reduce negative emotions and increase positivity
Improve social connection for overall wellbeing
Release chronic pain
Strengthen your emotional intelligence
All of these lead to fulfillment and showing acts of loving-kindness is therefore your sixth step.
7. Don’t Do What You Know in Your Heart Is Wrong
Being fully conscious about what you know deep down in your heart is wrong comes from self-awareness. Consciously choosing not to do what you know in your heart is erroneous allows you to behave in a way that causes no harm to anyone or yourself.
We all know what is right and wrong and yet, it’s so easy to twist our perspectives to get away with something that isn’t correct when we want to get our own way. But, doesn’t that reek of self-righteousness, struggle, control, and manipulation? Going against what we know in our hearts is wrong leads us down some precarious and dangerous paths. Why do it?
Understanding that our negative behaviors come from conditioning, limiting beliefs and a weak values system is the first step to correcting the wrongs. It takes commitment, honesty, and deep internal work but it can be done if you want to live a fulfilling life.
Only then can you take the seventh step to fulfillment which tells you not to do what you know in your heart is wrong.
Finding a fulfilling life is possible and even essential if you want a peaceful and balanced existence as a physical being. However, it takes a willingness to go inward and face both your positive and negative traits as you take the steps toward fulfillment. Hiring a life coach can empower you to do the inner work so contact me today and let’s talk.