There are moments in life in which one is left wondering if the life one is living is truly fulfilling. During these times it feels as if life is sometimes not at all as purposeful as we had envisioned it to be. Perhaps you simply feel stuck in life. Or you’re simply frustrated of living a life that is not always fulfilling. It’s not that you do not appreciate the life you’re living. It’s something different. You simply feel that there must be more to life. That there must be something out there that gives your life a true purpose. Something that truly fulfills you. During these insightful moments, we begin to notice that we’ve been stuck with mediocre activities for far too long. We start to realize that we’ve wasted countless hours with entertaining but mindless hobbies. In retrospect, none of these activities contributed to the sense of living a fulfilled life. Living life on autopilot can be quite entertaining for a while, but it certainly does not fulfill. But what can you do to live a more fulfilling life? Is there even a secret formula to a happy and fulfilled life? Here are the 10 secrets to living a fulfilled life.
What would it take to develop a set of universal principles that make life more fulfilling? First of all, these principles would have to take into account what real people learned during the entire course of their life. However, it wouldn’t be enough to gather data from only a handful of people. In fact, it’s absolutely necessary that these principles are based on the life experience of thousands of individuals. These principles would have to summarize the essence out of the culminated wisdom of many lifetimes. Also, these principles would have to include regular wisdom for day-to-day life just as much as helpful philosophical concepts.
This seems like an impossible task to accomplish. Luckily, the first steps into the right direction have already been undertaken. Scientists at the Harvard University collected data from 268 undergraduates for over 75 years. The research, known as the Grant Study, produced important results about life’s fundamental questions, such as what it is that is truly fulfilling us.
The following presents not only some of the results of the study, but also many other important aspects that can help you to live a more fulfilling life.
10 Secrets to Living a Fulfilled Life
Even the most sophisticated formula to a fulfilled life is entirely useless when it is not put to practice. The advice in the following shows you what you can do to lead a purposeful life. But there is a great difference between just reading about it and actually putting it to practice. All these tips can help you to give your life a deeper meaning, when implemented into your life. It’s important to understand that just reading about it will most likely not change anything. Change can only be affected by putting these important lessons to practice.
1. Appreciate challenges – they give perspective
Most of us are not fond of challenges. And it’s quite understandable why many do not like them. Having to go through a tough time can be extremely difficult and painful. Such challenges confront us with our own limits and boundaries. They show us how perishable we actually are, hence we don’t like them.
On the other hand, however, challenges provide extremely beneficial learning experiences that can enrich your life. In fact, challenges or rather the perspective they give you, can help you to live a more fulfilling life. Having to go through a difficult time can give you quite another perspective on your life. It can help you to appreciate your life to a greater extent. But it can also show you what it is that really fulfills you. So in a way, challenges can turn your life upside down, which helps you to free yourself from everything that does not contribute to your happiness and growth.
When you’re confronted with difficulties, try to find the opportunities that come with it. Avoid playing the blame game as it will not help you to do anything about your situation. Instead, try to use the remains of a broken dream to build the fundament for something new.
2. Love is the key to fulfillment
One of the major highlights of the Grant Study was the finding how incredibly important love can be for your life’s fulfillment. Even though it might seem obvious, love and the sense of being fulfilled are closely related. One of the study’s researchers, George Vaillant, identified two pillars upon which ones fulfillment depends. The first pillar he identified as love, the second one as the ability to live a life that does not exclude love.
The study highlights that success, wealth and health are not enough to truly fulfill a person. Fulfillment can be drawn from the support, affection and happiness that comes with loving relationships to one’s family and partner.
3. Money, power and lust does not correlate to greater fulfillment
The desire for ever more money and power is insatiable. For this reason, the never ending journey of acquiring tangibles does not contribute to the feeling of being fulfilled. Quite the contrary is the case. The burning desire might eventually cause pain to you.
The Grant Study supports this by showing that neither money nor power are related to greater levels of happiness and fulfillment. While it is certainly true that career success is important to your sense of fulfillment, it’s just one piece of something that is much larger. In fact, when considered in the context of a full lifetime’s experience, money and power loose importance. It might be quite true that these two aspects are quite important to us when we are younger. But when looking at the importance of money and power at the end of one’s life, one might be able to realize that these two did not significantly contribute to ones fulfillment.
4. Freeing yourself from the opinion of others increases fulfillment
If there’s one obstacle that can greatly hinder us from ever reaching true fulfillment it’s the desire to please others. We do not only wonder what other people might be saying or thinking about us, but we also give our very best to please everyone around us. We put far too much emphasis on the opinions of other people, thus allowing them to greatly influence our behavior. As you can see, this can become quite a vicious circle. Instead of doing what truly fulfills us, we start doing that we think others expect of us. In the hope of satisfying and pleasing others, we neglect ourselves.
Instead of continuously wondering what others might be thinking of you, try to focus on what you feel inside. After all, you will never be able to fully influence how others think of you. For this reason, all that matters is what you think of yourself. And as long as you can happily look at yourself in the mirror it might not be so important what others think of you.
5. Fulfillment starts from within
Many people that aspire to live a more fulfilling life look outside of themselves for possible answers. However, most entirely neglect the fact that nothing from the outside can truly fulfill you, if you’re not internally happy. So instead of trying to look for the answers within, we explore one external source of happiness after another. And while it is true that many of these external sources entertain us for a while, none of them can truly keep us fulfilled for a longer period of time. It is as if nothing from the outside world can truly fill our hearts and minds. That is until we realize that the journey to fulfillment starts from within.
Once we are able to find happiness from within, it helps us to discover what fulfills. If you’re able to manifest happiness from within yourself, you’ll be more likely to discover what it is that makes your life truly worth living.
6. Pursuing your vision will truly fulfill you
Do you have a purpose for your life? Is there something that you absolutely want to see implemented on this planet? Something that is far bigger than yourself that you are willing to fight for?
The pursuit of a true vision can have a significant impact on how fulfilling you perceive your life to be. Not only will such a mission fire your motivation, but it will also help you to keep going when the going gets tough.
Take yourself time for the development of such a vision. This is not something to be done within an hour or even a week. But eventually, you will greatly benefit from having a dream. Instead of complaining about the difficulties of a certain task, your focus will remain on the importance of continuing the pursuit of your vision. And, knowing that your striving to make this world a better place will not only give your life a purpose, but it will also fulfill you.
The answer to living a fulfilled life lies in finding significance for your life. Try to discover what matters most to you and how you can affect positive change for yourself and those around you.
7. Let things go to get something new
If your life has ever been turned upside down you know how difficult it can be to rearrange every aspect of it. But as difficult and painful such a situation can be it also provides the opportunity to remove negative aspects from your life. In many cases, by removing unbeneficial aspects from your life, you make room for something new.
The same holds true for the pursuit of fulfillment. A happy life cannot be accomplished by holding on to the things that drag you down. Let go and gain something new instead.
8. Mindfulness, awareness and self-reflection
Mindfulness helps you to cultivate happiness from the inside out. It also allows you to be better in touch with who you truly are. Even more so, the habit of self-reflection will help you find more meaning in your life’s experiences.
This can be accomplished by picking up the habit of meditation, or by simply trying to pay the greatest attention to the present moment. But you can also take yourself the time to reflect on your life and your actions. It will help you to identify patterns that help you to find what is really important to you.
9. Add joy to other people’s lives
Naturally, we try to find fulfillment by adding joy and happiness to our own life. As a consequence, we neglect the powerful effect that helping other people can have on our life. Helping others can make you quite happy. It will increase your psychological well-being and overall life satisfaction. Many people think they miss out opportunities by helping others. They believe it’s a waste of time to help other people. But at the same time these people never experienced how wonderful it is to see other people strive. Simply amazing to see others succeed because you helped them get back on the feet when they needed you the most. There’s no risk in helping other people, but heartfelt fulfillment can be gained from it.
10. Find fulfillment by taking risks
Fears do not only limit our actions, but they also can limit our happiness to a great degree. It can be quite comfortable to remain within the boundaries of your comfort zone, but it does not fulfill. In fact, only by taking risks and having the courage to explore new opportunities, you can find true meaning and purpose for your life. Simply doing what you’ve always done will not help you to add meaning to your life.
Have the courage to take risks. Do not let fear stand in your way. Instead, explore that which lies outside of your comfort zone.