Updated: Feb 22, 2019
How satisfied do you feel with your life?
There's a fairly good chance that your answer will depend on when you are asked. You may feel incredibly content at some points, but there are days where you feel so low you wish you could change everything.
You will probably find that your answer is content when you have been engaging in an activity that you enjoy or you have just enjoyed a delicious meal, a great time with friends, or something of a similar happiness boost. We tend to savor those types of feelings simply because we are unsettled and restless as a whole. We tend to long for something in life that perhaps we just can't seem to grasp.
Satisfaction is simply being happy with your life. It doesn't just exist in a moment, rather it encompasses your past, present, future, and when you look at the big picture.
Why is it that we struggle so much to feel satisfied with our present? There are a few things that can make a serious difference to your happiness and satisfaction levels. Perhaps these could help you improve your satisfaction levels with life.
Having a few close friends can give your life satisfaction a 19% boost (100 Simple Secrets Of The Best Half Of Life, David Niven). Even better, if you have a good relationship with your neighbors it can increase your life satisfaction by 16% and beyond that, it can reduce your risk of loneliness by 25%!
While religion isn't for everyone, many people report feeling deeper life satisfaction when they believe. It isn't the belief or the religion that you belong to. What increases your happiness is the sense of community that provides. It also helps that these types of relationships are built on common values and a core purpose, which is a good foundation to get started on. Additionally, the magic number of friends for life satisfaction tends to be 10, which means religion is a good place to build your core friend group.
If religion isn't for you then seek your spirituality elsewhere – whether it's in a yoga class, a hiking group, or meeting weekly with a group of friends to enjoy the game.
It's not all about what friends can provide you, though, giving can be equally as powerful. Consider getting involved with your community and volunteer. If you work with young people, you can expect to be four times more satisfied with your life than someone chasing money.
Your Life Story
You can increase your life satisfaction by recording your life story. It's all about what types of stories you tell yourself about you and your life.
Having a firm grasp of your family history can also increase your life satisfaction. Kids who have heard the stories about their ancestors feel a greater sense of control over life and have higher levels of self-esteem.
People who set and strive to achieve their goals are almost 20% more satisfied in life than those who don't. Additionally, being passionate about something improves your life satisfaction and in psychological adjustment.
You don't need to set a goal to become the President, to become a millionaire, or to win a Grammy. Minor successes produce the same boost in life satisfaction than the major ones. So, set clear achievable goals for yourself and when you achieve one, set another.
Learning and growth don't end when you graduate high school, college, or finally get that promotion you've been wanting. It's a continuous process and one you should continue to strive for to maintain your life satisfaction. If you don't feel satisfied with your life start asking what areas you feel are letting you down. If you're longing for more – go out there and get it!
What Does Personal Fulfillment Really Mean?
Most likely, living in North America, you were raised to believe that you must study hard at school so you can get good grades. These good grades will get you into a job or further studies leading to a potentially better job, so you can live with financial stability, pay your bills and mortgage, purchase a nice car, and go on vacations from time to time.
The above scenario is the gold standard for living that society bequeaths us. The American Dream embodies the ideal that every US citizen should have an equal opportunity to achieve success and prosperity through hard work, determination, and initiative. It doesn’t necessarily have much to do with personal fulfillment.
Owning a nice house, car, and clothes has nothing to do with the inner satisfaction that comes from a sense of personal fulfillment. Indeed, many people have achieved all those material accomplishments and yet they feel miserable and empty on the inside, with a restlessness and a feeling of dissatisfaction that they cannot quite identify.
Personal fulfillment, on the other hand, while unique to each person, is much more to do with reaching your own innate potential and living up to your capabilities.
Personal fulfillment has more to do with an inner state of satisfaction and contentment, than it has to do with the material successes that the world promises us.
Webster’s Dictionary defines fulfillment as,
“The achievement of something desired, promised, or predicted”
Your Dictionary defines self-fulfillment as,
“The ability to make yourself happy and complete through your own efforts”
Webster's New World College Dictionary defines self-fulfillment as,
“Fulfillment of one's aspirations, hopes, etc. through one's own efforts”
So, how do you figure out what personal fulfillment looks like to you?
As mentioned, it looks very different for each person. One unusual example, based on a true story, is of a homeless gentleman, named Martin, who led a very simple life, slept on the streets, and yet did not consider himself homeless.
He fed the pigeons, went to a church service in the morning, and then washed in the church restroom, walked to the café for a drink of coffee each morning, sat in the park, then read a book in the library.
Then he would go shopping for food and return “home” to his resting place on the streets. Now this elderly man, when asked what made him happy said, “Rain makes me happy. Feeding my pigeons makes me happy, reading makes me happy.” He said he did not consider himself homeless, and he was happy because he had “the intellectual capacity to understand how to be happy.”
He was by no means a picture of success, according to society’s values, and yet he had found true happiness. He did not have fame, fortune, not even family, or friends, but he had a priceless gift that all the riches and successes in the world cannot necessarily buy, the gift of inner peace and happiness.
Fulfillment is a personal thing. A general feeling of inner peace and contentment can mean different things to different people.
So chase your goals, shoot for the stars, and reach your inner potential. Whether it is to grow an amazing business, a career that you love, a path of service to others, to be a great parent, or an Olympic champion.
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