We all want to be fulfilled, but how do we get there?
It's not always easy to know how you can find fulfillment in your life. There are so many things competing for your attention—your friends and family, your job, maybe even the latest Netflix series—and it can be difficult to know what you should focus on.
But we're here to help! Here is a list of steps you can take to become more fulfilled in 2022 and in life as a whole:
Find Purpose in Life
Everything you do in life stems from having a clear purpose in what you want to do. Those without purpose are doomed to wander. And excessive wandering is the fastest way to live a life of unhappiness and a lack of fulfillment.
When it comes to finding one’s purpose, I don’t think there’s a one-size-fits-all, surefire method. However, this next tip will make the process much more straightforward.
Seek New Experiences
Life is simply a series of daily experiences when you really think about it. However, modern life is restrictive. Most of our lives are spent working at a job to make money in order to eat and pay the bills. It becomes a predictable and uninteresting cycle if you allow that to be the case. However, I think it’s best to take time whenever possible to seek new, interesting experiences.
My belief is that an experience doesn’t need to be extremely grandiose. Taking a trip across the planet to Bali or Mykonos might sound interesting. However, a simple trip to an undiscovered location nearby could be just as interesting. Also, be sure to treat anything new as a valuable experience. Take a new class. Learn a skill. Meet a new person. These are all interesting experiences that shouldn’t be taken for granted. Anything done consistently will eventually get boring. The most luxurious location you could take a trip to seems great if you rarely go. But if you’re exposed to it every day, you’ll adapt and it won’t seem as luxurious or valuable anymore. Do your best to weigh all experiences as valuable.
Understand that You are the Author of Your Life
I’ve been asked on several different occasions what my opinion of the purpose of life is. Personally, I think life is meant to be like a book. You are the author and main character in your story. Wouldn’t you want to craft an epic tome for others to read? Wouldn’t you want a massive story filled with ups and downs and twists and turns?
Imagine you’re reading a book like Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings. The main character had a goal. And the main character reached the goal the very next day. No struggle. No difficulty. No villain to hold him or her back. No adversity. Nothing bad. Wouldn’t that be boring? Would you even want to read that book? Chances are, you answered no.
Understand that you have the pen to the life you desire. There will be good and there will be bad. In my opinion, it’s best to realize this…
Good and Bad are Relative
What you might consider bad could be good to someone else. The opposite is also true. Perhaps you work at a job. You hate it. But the job pays the bills. Believe it or not, someone across the world is struggling to find work. They haven’t had food in a week. And the economy is so bad that poverty is the norm and the norm is faced with an extremely high rate of illness, starvation, and death. Would you like to trade places? I imagine you wouldn’t. Suddenly, once you begin to see the alternatives, I imagine you appreciate your job more.
I’ve learned over the past decade or so that good and bad are simply concepts to define our perspectives. Literally, anything can be considered good or bad depending on the perspective and mindset you attribute to the event. My challenge to you is to try and shift your thinking when such an event occurs. If you believe you're facing a bad scenario, try to find a reason why it benefits you or perhaps an alternate scenario. And, if you’re facing a good event, be mindful that it could be worse. Allow the good to be much better than you initially imagined. And force the bad to be better than it might seem.
Practice Daily Gratitude
As a way to help diminish bad events when they occur, try your best to find gratitude daily. This will become difficult over time as it’ll be harder to spot new positives in your life. However, to begin, I recommend taking at least 5 minutes daily to think about one good thing that happened. Using this exercise will help keep you in a positive headspace. If you ever struggle to think of one, my default object of gratitude is to remember that I woke up that day.
As you live life and try to write your story on the path to fulfillment, you’ll discover that you need to take risks. You’ve probably heard this before but the statement, everything you desire is on the other side of risk, is extremely true. Without taking risks, nothing good comes. Think about anything desirable in life. Imagine you want to talk to a pretty girl or a handsome boy. Imagine you want to start a company and make a lot of money. Imagine you want to add more muscle to your frame. All of those things require a bit of risk. All of those things require the possibility of failure.
Expect Negative Judgment
When I was younger, I always stopped myself from doing what I wanted out of fear. I feared the judgment of others, primarily. I was afraid of being teased or called out. Over time, I realized that the judgment was going to come regardless. Such is the nature of people. If you’re trying to do good, you’ll be judged negatively for it. If you’re trying to do badly, you’ll be judged for it. And you’ll be judged for everything in between. My suggestion is to ignore the judgment, only allow positive and productive feedback, and keep doing what you planned on doing.
Avoid Negative Thinking
I believe that negativity is a sickness that’s easy to catch and hard to recover from. As humans, we’re wired to seek negativity. This mechanism within our brain is what kept us alive for so long and allowed us to evolve. Consider the following. You’re on the Savanas of Africa. You’re walking past a big bush and you hear movement in the bushes. You can’t quite see what’s hidden but you know it’s not the wind. It could be a large animal waiting for you to run or notice it. Or it could be several small, harmless animals. Maybe they’re hiding from you. Or maybe they don’t even notice you and are sleeping in the bushes. Do you take your chances are investigate the bush? Or do you carefully turn back and go a different path while staying vigilant? Unbeknownst to you, the rustling in the bushes was caused by a small aardvark, getting his fill of ants. Your negative outlook deterred you from investigating. But it was worth it, right? If a lion were hiding in that bush, life could have ended for you on the spot.
In this scenario, your negative viewpoint would keep you alive longer. However, in the modern world, the opposite is true. There are no lions waiting in bushes. There aren’t too many predators in the world trying to prey on you. Often, negativity trains your brain to create enemies that don’t truly exist. The best way to avoid this is to simply understand that most of your negative thinking is false.
Prioritize Your Time
I often preach that time is the most valuable asset on the planet. Many people sacrifice themselves for money. However, time is a resource that can never be replenished. Also, unfortunately, you never truly know how much time you have in life. This makes the value of even an hour undefinable and effectively unlimited. With this being said, pay attention to the actions of those around you. Do they scroll mindlessly on their phones? Do they allow themselves to engage in thousands of unproductive conversations? Do they even plan their day?
Chances are, most people you know don’t use their time wisely. It’s the equivalent of throwing away 60 dollars every second. It’s wasteful. And every second can be allocated to something more productive. I believe that one of the reasons people feel less productive is because they don’t prioritize their time effectively. Not prioritizing your time will put you on a path of wandering in life. Ultimately, this wandering will prevent you from ever feeling fulfilled.
Seek a Disciplined Life
Paulo Coehlo, the renowned best-selling author, once said that Discipline and freedom are not mutually exclusive, but mutually dependent because without discipline we would sink into chaos. This is absolutely true. I’ve found in my own life that a lack of discipline always leads to a world of chaos and discontent. Again, not having discipline would easily lead me to feel aimless. I’d lose motivation in my endeavors and ultimately feel as though days were meaningless.
Earlier, I mentioned that time is extremely important to prioritize. You cannot prioritize your time without being disciplined. In my opinion, the best way to be disciplined is to organize your day like a general organizes his troops. Every day is a battle. The mission is to progress by even an inch if possible.
Have Powerful Goals
One of the best ways to start building a habit of discipline is to have powerful goals that compel you to take action. One of my beliefs is that all humans need a goal of some kind to drive them. In my opinion, a goal is similar to an X on a map. It points to the treasure you seek. Imagine you’re given a map and something explains that there’s a great treasure to be found. Whatever your ultimate desires are can be found by discovering this treasure. I’m sure you’d get excited, right?
Now, imagine someone saying that they have the map to reach this treasure. You’re handed a large sheet of paper and it shows the entire planet. That’s it. Just the continents on the globe. No pointers. No markers. Not even colors to help you narrow down where the treasure might be.
I’m sure that would be disheartening, right? Most people in this situation wouldn’t even attempt to find the treasure no matter how great it supposedly is. How could you? You’d spend your entire life searching the planet for a treasure with no way of knowing if you’re close or far.
This is what it’s like to walk through life without goals. However, what if instead of the large sheet of paper, you’re given a smaller sheet? Perhaps this sheet is a map of a country. Within the country, there are several circles giving you an idea of where the treasure should be. Would you feel any better searching these locations? Let’s go a step further. What if you were given a map the size of a standard piece of paper? It shows a very specific street within a very specific city and has a massive X exactly where the treasure is.
How much easier would it be to find that X in real life? I imagine it exponentially simpler than when you just had a big sheet of paper displaying the planet.
This is the power of a good goal. It guides you toward where you should go. The more specific the goal, the more precise the X.
Focus on Kaizen
One of the most important words to think about in your pursuit of living a fulfilling life is the concept of Kaizen. What exactly is Kaizen? Originating from Japanese, the word essentially means neverending and consistent improvement. As I like to think about it, it’s committing yourself to be one percent better each and every day.
An excellent book worth reading is Ikigai, which documents the lives of Okinawans in Japan, who are known to be the consistently longest-living group of Japanese people. When asked what their secrets were to live over the age of 100, having a purpose in life was a consistent answer. I believe that finding a purpose and reason to practice Kaizen is what ultimately leads to people having a higher quality of life and ultimately being more fulfilled.
Realize that your anxieties are stronger in imagination than reality
Our imagination is powerful. Our imagination can even trick us into believing a sickness we don’t objectively have is real. Many people hold themselves back due to allowing their anxieties to get the best of them. They fear the outcome of a situation. This ultimately causes them to never take any action at all.
In reality, your fears are false. Whatever you can come up with in your reality likely has a low probability of occurring.
Practice Healthy Detachment
I believe that the word detachment gets a bad reputation. We often view detachment as being distant or unrelatable. Now, while those attributes can be true in people, I believe that detachment can also be used beneficially. Detachment can be used as a means to value only what’s objectively valuable. Meanwhile, it can also allow you to distance your emotions from what isn’t valuable.
As an example, far too many people are too attached to their possessions. But unattached to their friends and family. If your car were to be destroyed, it’s likely you’d flip out and yell and get upset. However, if a friend were suddenly to go absent, many people wouldn’t notice. In the modern era, spending time with people and having face-to-face interactions without some form of technology involved is rare.
We place too little value on the finite interactions we have with people who are irreplaceable in our lives. Meanwhile, virtually any item can be replaced with money or time. In my own life, I found myself overly attached to possessions. I’d struggle to abandon even some clothing I had. But why? I had no plans on ever wearing those items ever again. However, the sensation of loss overpowered me. One movie that’s underrated but I think illustrates this idea well is the movie Click starring Adam Sandler. Throughout the movie, Adam Sandler’s character stumbles upon a remote that can fast forward bad moments in time or pause certain situations. As the movie progresses, he uses the remote to fast forward his life and bypass the bad scenarios. Eventually, he does this so much that he fast-forwards through most of his life. He manages to see what he’s missed with the power of the remote. Peering into the past, he discovers that he was immersed in his work and detached from his family. This is an unhealthy form of detachment. He placed excessive value on his job, which didn’t necessarily benefit him tremendously or give him absolute fulfillment in life.
Meanwhile, he became so detached in his zombie-like state while fast-forwarding life, he missed out on his father passing away. In the movie, he expresses deep sadness because of how detached he truly was after understanding that he could never see, hear, or talk to his father ever again.
At its core, I think the ability to be attached in a healthy way allows you to control your mood and remain aware of what matters. To be detached allows you to maintain control over yourself when it’s necessary.
Don’t forget to give
The idea of giving to others is a very underrated activity. I absolutely believe that giving to others and providing value is one of the best ways to find fulfillment and purpose. However, I believe that giving isn’t limited to simply purchasing an item and presenting it to someone. Giving your time, giving your attention, and giving your effort to the aid of others is what I think ultimately makes us, as humans, more fulfilled. At one point in my life several years ago, I worked at a gas station and had basically no money to my name. I was behind on my rent and could barely afford to eat fast food meals. One day, while at the gas station, some students withdrew money and ended up leaving a $20 bill in the atm tray. I thought it was my lucky day. $20 would allow me to buy McDonalds and not be as stressed for the next week until my next payday. At the time I was making about $7.50/hr, so finding $20 was a massive deal at the time. Moments after I put the money in my pocket a man came in and held up a card. On the card, it suggested the man was deaf. He didn’t speak either which made me believe that he couldn’t speak or possibly couldn’t speak well. I took a look at his face after reading the card and noticed that one of his eyes was gray. He was blind. His face had an expression of someone that’s experienced an extraordinarily difficult life.
While I needed the $20 badly at the time, I realized that this man was much better off with the $20 than I was. At that moment, I bought the card (which I still have to this day) in exchange for the $20, and the man slowly but happily walked off.
In that instant, while I felt slightly upset about giving away my newfound money, I also felt happy. It felt as though I made an honest impact on someone’s day. I think in the world, we’re conditioned to be fairly greedy and selfish. However, I think by making more of an attempt to be helpful and give to each other when we need it, we can all grow together.
At my lowest point in life, I searched for answers. I wanted to know how to live a great life. At the time, I was battling depression. Basically, everything about my life felt like it was off. I wasn’t happy. At the time, I had a deep self-hatred for myself. While searching for answers I stumbled upon Greek philosophy and enjoyed some of its suggestions on how one should live life. Eventually, I learned about the concept of Eudaimonia, which is a way of seeking fulfillment and flourishing in life. I learned that to find Eudaimonia, there are 3 major attributes, or pillars as I like to call them, that you must have to truly be fulfilled. Those 3 pillars are Health, Wealth, and Relationships.
Invest in your Physical and Mental Health
When it comes to our health, both physical and mental, I believe that we’re struggling. The modern capitalistic model of work stresses us endlessly and separates us from our family and friends just to try and make enough money to survive. To cope, we consume terrible content on social media and TV which further contributes to the destruction of our mental health. Simultaneously, we also begin to consume terrible foods to keep up with the fast pace of life. Mcdonald's, KFC, Dairy Queen, and Taco Bell are just a few examples of fast food restaurants open on nearly every corner that seduce us into getting quick and cheap meals at the cost of our longevity.
Take more time to invest in your physical and mental health. It’ll pay dividends in the run. Exercising today, even for 20 minutes a day, could save you from crippling diseases or other potential risks that we’re likely to face as we age.
Live Below Your Means
Believe it or not, the majority of people in society live above their means. Even individuals or families that make over 6 figures still live above their means. Unfortunately, doing so will put you at a constant level of unnecessary stress.
Every paycheck you’ll have will be instantly depleted as you pay off your bills and debts. Imagine how things would be if you could live in abundance. Imagine how little you’d be stressed if you could pay your bills easily with excess money left over to do whatever you please. This is why it’s so important to live below your means. Right now, if you find yourself running out of money before you run out of month, make a list of all of your expenses and all of your sources of income. From your expenses, figure out what you can remove. And do your best to figure out what you should keep. From there, begin to eliminate those unnecessary expenses until you find yourself living below your means.
Focus on Your Relationships
In the modern era, I’m convinced that a massive source of unhappiness and unfulfillment lies in poor relationships with those around you. We’ve become isolated from our friends, stuck relying on social media to form any connections. We’ve also been forced to remove ourselves from our families.
Job opportunities and living conditions may have forced you to travel away from home. I encourage you to take time to focus heavily on your relationships. This isn’t limited to romantic relationships. While it’s likely that you can’t spend entire days speaking to or spending time with your family and friends, taking a bit of time to call or text can go a long way.
It is said that you are the average of the 5 people closest to you. I certainly believe this is true. It’s important to have people close to you that are where you’d like to be when it comes to your goals. It’s also important to understand that those 5 people need to be a powerful support system and need to actually be invested in your future, to a degree. Most people don’t do a great job of curating their social circle. Instead, we tend to meet people primarily due to proximity rather than proactively.
Forming relationships proactively involves you seeking traits in others that will allow you to succeed. If you want to be healthier, seek people that are dedicated to fitness or are on the path to a healthy lifestyle. Over time, you’ll adopt those traits. If you want to make more money, find people who talk about money more. If you want an energetic and outgoing social circle, invite people out more. Gather the people that take you up on your offer and invite the event deniers less.
Relationships are one of the most powerful and valuable currencies that one can have. Please don’t underestimate this statement. From a mental, emotional, and enjoyment perspective, more qualitative relationships are extremely valuable.
Mistakes will happen. It’s inevitable. One of the worst things you could do is dwell on your mistakes and beat yourself up over them. If you have goals or ideals, simply going for them and giving them a genuine effort is what matters. In my opinion, part of fulfillment comes from making mistakes, growing from them, and not shying away from the future mistakes that are guaranteed to happen.