“If falling into desperation worked to make things better, then I would say, ‘Let’s all jump into despair.’ But it doesn’t help. The only way to truly find meaning and fulfillment is to look at the disaster, the pain, the difficulty, and know with complete certainty that good can come from this.” — Yehuda Berg
I’ve definitely had my ups and downs in life. Like many others, I’ve felt the rollercoaster ride of emotions that you experience when you’re riding life’s highs, and bottoming out in life’s lows. Clearly, life isn’t always easy. In fact, it’s filled with an endless array of challenges, defeats, upsets and failures. But through it all, no matter what’s going on, there are ways to feel more fulfilled in life. There are ways to be happier, healthier and more energetic, with not very much more effort.
Some years ago, during one of the most tumultuous times in my life, back when I experienced the heart-wrenching effects that comes with failure, I didn’t think I could ever feel fulfilled. I didn’t think that I would ever be happy again. Back then, I was just a failure. I had failed at everything that I once valued — my business, my marriage and my friendships with those that were closest to me. I had pretty much failed at everything.
However, back then, I didn’t realize the importance of those failures. I just thought, “Well, that’s it. I’m done. Life will never be good again.” I was far from fulfilled. I was defeated to the say the least. But the reason for my fascination with failure and the importance of failure has much to do with those very same experiences. It almost feels like I became this failure detective. I wanted to seek out all of these people who had failed in the past but had achieved a great margin of success afterwards.
Still, I think it’s natural for us to feel diminished and unfulfilled in life at times. Especially when things don’t go according to plan, or we don’t achieve the goals we set out to achieve within the timeframe we assumed we’d do so, it’s easy to get discouraged.
But this all boils down to focus. Whatever you focus on in life, you move towards. It’s easy to focus on negativity. In fact, it becomes habitual over time. But when you can move away from that, that’s when you can start living in abundance and feeling more fulfilled.
Like Attracts Like
Years ago, when one of my businesses failed, I did a lot of thinking about my life, the people around me, and the reasons why I was doing the things I did. I had to sincerely think about my motivations. Why did I want certain things? It was a period of some serious soul-searching and self-reflection, to say the least.
I had to dig deep down inside and really uncover who I was and why I did the things that I did. I wanted to know, not only why I failed, but what series of thoughts or actions that led me there. You see, it’s virtually impossible to live a fulfilled life when your motivations for doing the things you’re doing are all wrong.
When you value superficial things above all else, kind of like I did once upon a time long ago, then there’s almost no way to succeed. Why? Because when the going gets tough, you end up throwing in that proverbial towel. When things don’t mean that much to you deep down inside, why would anyone suffer through the pain and agony of pushing through failure?
What I also realized in my life is that like attracts like. Whatever you focus on, you get more of. If your mind is so used to looking to the negative aspects of a situation, or thinking that a person is going to screw you over in some way, you’ll usually find evidence of just that. In turn, you’ll attract that negative situation into your life.
But, when you change your focus to one of positivity, you live in a state of abundance. Eventually, good things begin to happen. Not right away, especially if you lived much of your life steeped in negative thought. It happens over time. The Law of Attraction isn’t something you can just turn on and off like the switch of a light. It takes time to build up that energy to attract the right things into your life.
In Christianity and Catholicism, we also call this turning the other cheek. Even if someone harms you, you shouldn’t look for ways to seek revenge. Particularly, this stems from Matthew 5:39, which states “But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.” But beyond the Bible, Confucius is also quoted as once saying, “Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves.”
Once you start thinking negatively, there’s virtually no holding back the amount of negative things that you’ll attract into your life. You know the saying, “Bad things happen in threes.” Well, there’s a reason for that. Once the mind begins thinking down a negative stretch or path, it attracts multiple negative situations to it. I’m not talking about the things that are out of our control; I’m talking about the things that are within our control.
The Foundation For Fulfillment In Life
There are several things that I’ve noticed over the years. I never really noticed them early on in life, but realized very quickly that they were the foundation for fulfillment, no matter what I was doing or what goal I was attempting to attain. The problem? It’s hard to focus on the foundational elements of fulfillment when we’re stuck living life on autopilot.
When we’re just pushing and pushing, working harder and harder every single day, it’s hard to be fulfilled. We lack things like balance in life, or we focus on goals that are superficial rather than meaningful. That’s the surest to way to living more of an unfulfilled life rather than a fulfilled one.
All things considered, there are, in fact, five ways that you can live a more fulfilled life. I’ve relied on these methods in recent years, and I can tell you firsthand that they’ve been a Godsend to me. I’ve never felt happier and more at peace with myself than I ever have. This doesn’t have to do with money or things, but rather with the intangible elements of our existence.
#1 — Gratitude
Gratitude offers us a platform for fulfillment. It’s easy to want things that we don’t have. In our consumption-driven society, we are always lusting after that shiny new object. But true fulfillment resides in appreciating what you have in the here and now rather than basing your happiness or fulfillment on the attainment of things.
With what we see on television or the Internet in the lives that the rich and famous lead, it’s hard to have gratitude for the small amount of things we might have. But, when you look at the other end of the spectrum, there are people living in complete squalor, under the guise of oppressive regimes, or simply in a state of lack without the basic necessities for life. For that reason, we must appreciate what we have.
Take a moment to count your blessings, so to speak. Rather than thinking about what you want, appreciate what you have. Write it down, in fact. When you write it down, it sends a powerful signal to the subconscious mind. Don’t leave it in the realm of abstract thought. Spend a few minutes every single day doing this and turn it into a daily habit.
What you’ll come to realize over time is that you’ll feel much more fulfilled when you appreciate the things you have. If you’ve ever had something really bad happen to you and wondered why you didn’t appreciate a certain thing before, then you’ll understand where I’m coming from. What we have can be easily taken away in the blink of an eye. So appreciate it today — right now.
This also has very much to do with the element of focus. When you focus on the things that you’re grateful for rather than the things that you’re upset or angry about, your mind has a better chance to push forward towards your dreams through a humble approach that’s steeped in abundance rather than a state of lack. It provides the mental clarity to achieve all your dreams.
#2 — Balance
While pushing towards our goals, it’s easy to lose any sense of balance. Things just seem to fall to the wayside when we’re goal oriented. And, even when we’re not goal oriented, and we allow bad habits to do their slow-creep, the important things in life seem to fail to get our attention.
Whether it’s bad habits that are holding you back, or big goals that are pushing you forward, losing balance is quite easy. Things like family and friends seem to lose our attention when this happens. But there’s absolutely no way to feel fulfilled in life without a sense of balance.
Think about the things that once made you happy in life, and ask yourself why you’re not doing those things anymore. These things don’t have to cost money. I’m talking about taking a walk along a beach during the sunset or having a cup of coffee with a good friend and chatting about your day or your experiences.
If you’re a creative person and you’ve lost that sense of passion for the arts, then you need to reconnect with your creativity. Balance is an important pathway to fulfillment and we often allow things to go forgotten when we’re either too focused on our goals, or immersed in one of life’s many distractions.
Make a list of the things that you love doing but haven’t done in ages. Then, decide, right now, on a schedule where you can make time for those pursuits. Even if you feel like you don’t have the time in your schedule, find 15 minutes where you can do just that. That’s all it takes — just 15 minutes.
#3 — Contribution
There’s a deep and utter sense of fulfillment that comes along with contributing to others. I’m not talking about having to donate money; I’m talking about donating your time, a resource far more precious than money. We can always make more money, but there’s only a limited amount of time that we each have in this world.
In fact, numerous studies have confirmed that money does not buy happiness. However, money, when used to help others, leads to the most fulfillment in life. If you want to feel more fulfilled in life, contribute something to someone else. Use your expertise to help others out there. Not only does this create good karmic energy, but it makes you feel better, internally speaking. It puts your mind at ease knowing that you helped someone else out there who might not have been able to help themselves.
Pick up a good cause and donate your time to it. Whether it’s Habitat for Humanity, The Red Cross, or any other local organization around you, contact them and find out how you can contribute your time. Also, you could always head down to your local homeless or aid shelter to put in some time there as well.
Tony Robbins once said, “Only those who have learned the power of sincere and selfless contribution experience life’s deepest joy: true fulfillment.” It’s also a great way to instill an element of gratitude in your life. When you help and contribute to others, you learn to appreciate what you have rather than what you don’t have or what you want to have.
Like any other behavior, contribution can become habitual. Eventually, over time, your mind can seek out ways to help those around you and you’ll constantly be looking for ways you can give to others in the world. Again, it’s not about money. If you can afford to donate money, great. But donating money is a bit more self-removed. Donate your time, and it will really put you in touch with what you have to be grateful for and fill your heart with fulfillment at the same time.
#4 — Forgiveness
I once battled with an inability to forgive others. As a stubborn person, I often found it hard to see where I was wrong. And if someone crossed me, it was hard for me to go back and forgive them. But the problem with that, or so I found, was that it’s more difficult to live in a state of anger and hate than it is to live in a state of love and forgiveness.
When you refuse to forgive others for things that have happened in the past, it’s one of the surest ways to living the opposite of a fulfilled life. You spend all your mental and emotional energy focused on the anger and hate that you simply forget about the good things that used to exist in that relationship.
Focus is a very powerful thing. It’s the mind’s eye, leading you down the path that you choose to go down. As I said, like attracts like. So, rather than focus your energy on being angry or upset at someone, simply forgive them. I know it’s hard at times, and your forgiveness doesn’t even necessitate a phone call; just a short message saying you forgive that person.
If you don’t want to communicate with them, write it out on a piece of paper and simply save it somewhere. Put yourself in their shoes and think about what you would have done in their situation. Try to find some good out of whatever happened, no matter how small it might be.
#5 — Persistence
Last, but certainly not least, and one of the surest pathways to living a more fulfilled life, is the art of persistence. I once wrote a book on this very topic, so I believe wholeheartedly in staying persistent. Even in the face of negativity and people trying to hold you back, you can be more fulfilled in whatever you do, as long as you don’t give up.
Look, giving up is easy. I know that. I’ve given up more times than I’d like to admit. They were painful situations that caused me an immense amount of frustration, stress, anxiety, fear, guilt, and a slew of other emotions. But I also learned from those situations. I learned that I could never accomplish anything worthwhile if I gave up.
I knew I had to fight the good fight. No matter how difficult things got. No matter how much stress or anxiety things caused me, I needed to push through. And I did. Through it all, I realized how much more fulfilled I felt when I didn’t give up. While I had to go through some pain to get there, the feeling at the other end was nothing short of incredible.
So, whatever goals you do have in life, don’t give up on them just because you failed one or many times. I spent a great deal of my life failing, so I know the pain associated with that. All you need to do is push through those failures and keep your eye on the prize. But, don’t forget about the other things that are important in life like family and friends.
Life isn’t all about money and winning at things. Money is just a means to an end. However, you can live a fulfilled life and make money as long as you focus on things like gratitude, balance, contribution, forgiveness and persistence. Fulfillment is waiting for you just around the bend as long as you can stick to living your life through these very principles.