When you think of fulfillment what do you think of? Is fulfillment something that is the result of what happens to you?
In other words, if things go my way, I’m happy and fulfilled. As a therapist, I get to see a wide range of people and problems. I believe that the game of happiness is grounded in a few pillars. In my experience, people that can grasp some of these concepts are on their way to living a life fulfilled. These components of fulfillment are:
Gratitude, Relationships, Purpose, Optimism, Presence
An attitude of gratitude—We have all heard the stories of people on their deathbed expressing regret that they didn’t show appreciation for the people and situations in their life or regret that they didn’t spend more time with people close to them. You don’t have to wait to take action in this area. Your heart will follow your feet. Start showing gratitude and appreciation and you will start feeling thankful and appreciative. Try it!
Get in the game of relationships—with whom are you surrounding yourself? Are you around pessimistic, negative people or surrounding yourself with people that reflect the life you want to lead? If you are the total of the five people you spend the most time with, who would you be? Also make sure you are infusing positive actions, gratitude, appreciation, and love into those relationships. Don’t be a consumer of relationships. It is not a spectator sport.
Happen to the day—Live on purpose. Show me someone that has no goal or idea what they want, and I will show you a person that lets each day happen to them. I wear out my clients with the question, “Are you happening to the day or letting the day happen to you?” Many people want to find their purpose because they think of it as something that will serve as a roadmap for the rest of their life. Your purpose may guide you, but you are likely only to get one piece of the road map each day. Find what you want to give, give it a name, and produce that for someone else today. Then tomorrow, do it again. Over time, when this becomes your “normal,” you will be prepared to see your purpose on a bigger scale. Finding your purpose begins now. If helping people is something that makes you feel good, look outside and find someone to help today.
Be an optimist—Ever heard someone describe themselves as a realist in an attempt to explain away their negative outlook on life? Realism is just the sunny side of negativity. Recognition is the key to change in this area. If you can catch the negative thoughts when they enter your mind, you can kick them out for not paying rent. Negative thoughts are not supporting you in your effort to live fully. Therefore, they have not earned a seat on the committee. Some people get comfortable in pessimism because it protects them from taking ownership of their feelings and lack of action. It's like staying in a dirty diaper because its warm. Eventually, it will get irritating, and people will avoid you.
Get present—The most crucial moment in your life is right now! Right now! There is only one reality, and that is the present moment. Find practices that allow you to find the space between the past and future. Many people live in regret of the past or fear of the future. That usually manifests into either depression, anxiety, or both. The space between them is where peace lives and is the only real thing any of our lives. Meditation, mindfulness, exercise, art, and writing in a journal are some examples of ways to slow down and be present. There are thousands of articles and videos that do a great job of explaining meditation and mindfulness for those that want to begin a practice.
Lastly, nothing you do will increase your feelings of fulfillment if you don’t make it a regular practice. You can decide now that you are doing to create a fulfilled life. Start by writing down what you plan to do in each of these areas, then tell someone else about your intentions. People want you to succeed and will likely join you in your journey. Now happen to the day!
Brian Howard MA, LADC-MH is a Licensed Alcohol, Drug, and Mental Health Counselor at CorAspire Mental Health and Wellness Center. He has experience diagnosing and treating drug addicts, alcoholics, as well as family members impacted by addiction. Brian received a Master’s degree in Substance Abuse Studies from The University of Central Oklahoma. Brian is the founder of One Life Treatment. One Life Treatment approaches treatment in a 6 month outpatient setting utilizing technology, individual sessions, and educational classes/groups. One Life Treatment believes in a whole life approach to treatment that encourages engagement in multiple areas of life such as spiritual, social/relational, emotional, physical, purpose/service, and financial.