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A journey to find happiness…

We started the month of April with an honest goal to add real value to the lives of our valued clients and readers. It began as an almost nostalgic and perhaps overtly optimistic look at all the things that we believe make up or lead to living a happy life

And we repeated – more than once – that finding and living with purpose and meaning, seeking affirmation instead of negativity and acting with determination will eventually lead to fulfillment and happiness. It is a journey that is undertaken throughout our lives, because finding true happiness and real fulfillment takes a lifetime. It’s not as simple as 1, 2, 3. Unfortunately. 

Life is complicated. Life is uncertain. It is messy and challenging. But it is how we react to what is put in our paths that eventually leads us to a life that we can look back on as “well lived”. And that makes all the strife or lessons learnt along the way worth it. 

However, there is a niggling feeling as we start this article. A question that has dawned on us as we have read our articles over the last month. Our subheading – throughout this series has been – a journey to find happiness. 

But are happiness and fulfillment really the same thing?

Simon Sinek explains that “Happiness comes from what we do. Fulfillment comes from why we do it”.  

And that makes sense to us. They are not one and the same thing. In fact. But they are inexplicably interlinked. 

And that’s an excellent place to start. 

So, what is happiness?

Well, this can be different things for different people. Again, we are all different. What makes one person happy, will not necessarily make another person happy. 

But if you had to take a universal poll on a measure of happiness, there will almost certainly contain some degree of “when I buy this house”, “when I drive this car”, “when I wear this watch” or even “when I am in this role”. All external factors. All material. And all something that will happen tomorrow or in the future.  

And it is something that we have subconsciously been programmed to think – the more we buy or the more we own or the more money we make the happier we will be.  

But that’s a farce. Its false. And only speaks to immediate short-term goals. The need for “immediate satisfaction” to its core. 

But happiness is so much more than that. Or should be. At least. 

Verywellmind defines happiness as follows – 

“Happiness is an emotional state characterized by feelings of joy, satisfaction, contentment, and fulfillment. While happiness has many different definitions, it is often described as involving positive emotions and life satisfaction”.

But as verywellmind correctly set out on their website, the definition of happiness is broad and very subjective. In fact, there is a term known as “subjective well-being” that measures “mental health and happiness”.

And this gives us the feeling that happiness is temporary. Almost fluid. Dependent on other things. External things. Not a feeling that can last eternally. There are just too many variables. 

Factors like uneasiness in a work situation, fear, discontent, loss, feeling lost. Life experiences that will, undoubtedly, have an impact on a person’s overall happiness. 

It makes sense. If you think about it. 

But the problem with this is – no matter what we achieve or buy or own, there is always something better down the road. A perpetual cycle of chasing after something.  And the truth is, happiness doesn’t come from outside of ourselves. It can’t. Not really. 

It doesn’t come from materiality. It doesn’t come from reaching a short-term goal. 

Sure, these things may make us happy – at the time – but will they sustain us going forward?

What then is fulfillment?

In our article Beyond Motivation, we said that feeling fulfilled starts with finding your purpose. We went on to quote Tony Robbins –  

“Progress equals happiness. Achieving goals does not equal happiness.” So, if you’re asking yourself, “What is my purpose?” what you’re really asking for is progress – a true sense of fulfillment. And fulfillment isn’t a luxury or leisure activity – it’s a necessity.

Achieving goals may not help you find the purpose of life but knowing your purpose can help you achieve your goals. When you truly know your purpose, you’ll experience a sense of clarity like never before as you’re able to connect what you want to achieve to your ultimate fulfillment. You’ll feel passionate, driven and laser-focused”.

To flesh out the above and in the article How to Be Happy: Stop Looking for Happiness & Find Fulfillment Instead they state that – 

“Fulfillment is the process of living a valued life, where one pursues things that matter to them or that they are passionate about,” Dr. Barbera says. It generally comes from choosing actions that move a person towards what they value, as well as achieving goals that were guided by those values, she says.

Living a life with integrity towards ourselves and one that’s consistent with our values generally leads to a more fulfilled life, Buniva says. “Fulfillment brings the locus of control inside us so that we have greater agency over our experience. We determine what is meaningful to us and then have the power to live our lives in a manner that is consistent with the meaning we long for,” she says. Whereas, happiness is more externally driven, leaving us at the mercy of outside forces or changing circumstances”. 

As you can tell, fulfillment is seemingly all encompassing. It is so much more steadfast than what happiness appears to be. But happiness is a part of being and feeling fulfilled and living a fulfilled, happy life. Again, they are interlinked. 

What does this all mean?

Whilst human beings “strive to be happy” and desire a life without worry and fear (which is natural), happiness (in its basic form) is not only transient but is also subjective and very much dependent on many other factors. It is external to ourselves and therefore reliant on outside stimuli. 

But happiness is a factor or a cog in a much larger wheel that leads to something far more substantive. 

And that something substantive? 

Living a life of fulfillment. A life with meaning and purpose. Something akin to what Socrates called “a life well lived” (paraphrased of course) or “the good life”. 

Because fulfillment is not a transient thing. It is, as we have said before, evergreen. Life-Long-Lasting. 

Ultimately fulfillment starts with finding your purpose. Looking deep within yourself and understanding what your true values are – and then living your life accordingly (and in sync with those core values). It is internal and intrinsic to our overall state of wellbeing.

It involves staying motivated and pushing yourself to progress beyond just achieving a simple goal. It involves looking ahead and incorporating into your life the things that you are passionate about, the things that make you tick (in a good way). 

Fulfillment comes from growth, from understanding yourself and giving yourself the freedom to pursue what moves you.  You need to be inspired, motivated and practice positive affirmations daily. Never forgetting to act with determination in everything you do – never giving up!

All these things are part of a greater whole that is fulfillment.

As Simon Sinek states on his website – 

“We imagine a world in which the vast majority of people wake up every day inspired, feel safe wherever they are and end the day fulfilled by the work they do”.

And that’s the point, isn’t it?

Feeling motivated and inspired by your purpose, living in a safe environment where you get to practice what makes you happy and by so doing, feeling fulfilled (and happy) at the end of the day. 

The (not so) simple recipe for living the good life, “Living La vie da Loca” or “Living La Dolce Vita” whichever tickles your fancy.  

In closing

We could not have said it better ourselves – 

“Your long-term happiness and fulfillment depend on your ability to fulfill your soul’s unique purpose and to fill the place in the world that only you can fill, making the contribution that only you can make.” – Rod Stryker

“Occasionally in life there are those moments of unutterable fulfillment which cannot be completely explained by those symbols called words. Their meanings can only be articulated by the inaudible language of the heart” – Martin Luther King Jr

Our hope for the remaining months of 2022 is this – may you (our readers and valuable clients) fulfill your own unique purpose, finding in it, true happiness and moments of unutterable fulfillment. They are, after all, inexplicably interlinked. Find one and you are sure to find the other. 

We hope that our April articles have added real value to your lives by shedding some light on issues you may have faced and that any knowledge you may have gained stands you in good stead as you tackle the rest of the year. 

Look inward to find your happiness and fulfillment. And never give up on your pursuits!

– Written by Alicia Koch on behalf of AJS

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