Is your life fulfilling?
People do not usually come to coaches asking for fulfillment. Most people seek a coach to achieve something specific such as to find a better job or to improve a relationship or to reduce stress. But all of them are seeking a more fulfilling life.
Unfulfilling life choices sap you of energy and joie de vivre. You feel hopelessly stuck in a very unhappy place. In contrast, when you live a life of fulfillment, you experience being alive and whole.
A fulfilled life
This is the story of a remarkable 97-year-old lady. She came from a traditional family, married at age 12 and had three children before age 20. But she learned to swim and cycle after marriage and went on to become a founder-member of a sports club in her city. She ran a women’s co-operative for many years while raising her three daughters and became an avid bridge player. At 92 she broke her hip, but successfully recovered from hip surgery, because, she says, “I could not bear the thought of not playing bridge at the club, I had to get well quickly”! At nearly a century of living, this grandmother has endured her share of misfortunes and mourned the deaths of loved ones. Yet, she lives each day cheerfully, without regrets or complaints.
Is this grand old lady living a fulfilled life?
Paradox of fulfillment
The truth is, it doesn’t matter what you think of her life. Fulfillment is a personal heaven, and you always know if you are fulfilled or not.
Pursuing fulfillment is often not comfortable, either to oneself or to our families. If anything, it could be inconvenient and painful to pursue.
The poet who eschewed promotions at work to nurture his poetry, the corporate high-flier who gave up a handsome salary to work in the government and the woman executive who is attempting a career change despite great odds (she is not in a financial position to take career risks), they are all making fulfilling choices.
This is the Paradox of Fulfillment: The path to a more fulfilled life is often a path of more struggle. A fulfilled life flows with inner harmony and congruence, and yet, many people report that their most fulfilling times were challenging and difficult - times when they were doing things which were important to them but not easy to accomplish.
Purposes, Passions, Values
A fulfilling life is a life of meaning and purpose; of commitment to honor your values, visions and purposes.
“Passion always trumps excuses!” says inspirational writer, Dr Wayne Dyer, in his book Excuses Begone. When you passionately want something nothing seems unattainable. Passion generates boundless energy to achieve your heart’s desires. On the contrary, when you live a life ignoring your passions, it weakens you. Your life becomes a long list of well-argued excuses.
Passion gives purpose. Purpose stay steady in the rising and falling tides of emotion. Without sufficient passionate purpose we lose sight of the big picture; we trip over every little obstacle on the way.
Holocaust survivor, psychiatrist and motivational speaker, Viktor Frankl, is perhaps the most eloquent proponent of a life of purpose. In his seminal book, Man’s Search for Meaning, he writes, “Those who have a ‘why’ to live, can bear with almost any ‘how”.
Frankl’s book, originally titled ‘Say Yes to Life: A Psychologist Experiences the Concentration Camp’ chronicles his brutal concentration camp experiences which led him to discover the importance of finding ‘meaning’ in all life experiences, even the most brutal ones, and thus a reason to continue living.
Indeed. What greater passion than passion for life itself? What greater purpose than to live?
The shape of your fulfillment
Your special life purposes are revealed through your personal values. Values are not right or wrong, but simply those concepts which are deeply important to you. Honoring your values in your decisions and commitments is satisfying, while continually repressing your values causes dissonance, dissatisfaction, even trauma.
What do you value? What will you strive for? For love, freedom, justice, happiness, growth, truth? What fulfills you?
Fulfillment is very personal idea. Your unique passions, values, purposes and visions create the unique shape of your personal fulfillment. It is your personal definition of success and happiness.
First step to fulfillment
Unfortunately, many of us are not aware of what truly fulfills us because we do not listen to our own voice. We let other voices drown out our inner voice. We end up living other people’s idea of fulfilling lives; we live unhappily.
However, it is not difficult to discover your personal vision of a fulfilling life. Just imagine, if you could wake up tomorrow morning and magically have the life you want, what would it be?
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