The Only Way You’ll Ever Be Fulfilled In Life

Are you still pursuing the missing ingredient in life?

Stop searching already. It’s a fool’s game that has been played for millenniums.

Marriage Was My Ticket To Fulfillment

I’m 25 and single. I desire marriage more than anyone else in the world according to a recent internal poll. Frankly, I’m custom built for such a one-on-one relationships.

I’ve always had a best friend since kindergarten. For a long time I thought it was “kindergarden” – a place where kids and select plants grow.

As I aged and hormones domineered up to 45% of my brain (I think I still have majority control), I wished more and more that my best friend was an attractive female. She wouldn’t even have to love football and video games! (error corrected)

In my early twenties, marriage was the holy grail of life fulfillment. If I found that one person, I would be complete. I would tell this to my wife at our wedding – something about me being the lesser third. Through the past 3 years or so, I’ve been rethinking that and learning that my initial projections were off.

I learned that there is only one real way to be permanently thrilled with life. There’s also one way to never be satisfied, and it is…

“Just One More Step And I’ll Have Made It”

Life will always have more to offer. It’s an endless staircase of “that would be nice” possibilities.

I think about Warren Buffett. He just recently purchased a stake in Bank of America. He’s one of the richest men in the world. He doesn’t need to do anything, but he still invests because he enjoys it.

Ah… being rich and sipping piña coladas on the beach. Why don’t we see more rich people doing that? Maybe because that picture of paradise is not paradise. Maybe paradise doesn’t exist. After all, we take our flaws with us wherever we go.

For example, if you made your riches in an office setting and retired on the beach, the sun would destroy your skin. You might get bored sitting in a beach chair all day. You’d gain weight from all the piña coladas (you really should cut back on those).

If you were able to obtain your picture perfect life, you’d find that there is no such thing. You’d still get sick sometimes. You’d still have arguments with people you love.

Our brains tend to believe that the next big accomplishment or break is going to be the one that sets us for life. How many lottery winners feel that way initially and at once proceed to lose control and ruin their lives? Quite a few.

How many people have to live their entire lives before they realize there was never going to be perfection? Quite a few.

Don’t get me wrong – life can be VERY good and you can be VERY pleased, happy, excited, enthralled, and enchanted with it.

But you’ll never be completely satisfied until you decide to be.

Fame, Sex, Drugs, Death

We can learn so much from the rich and famous. I’m not talking about how they did it. Far more interesting is what they do in life once they’ve “made it.” With millions of dollars, they are free to move anywhere and do almost anything.

Then why do so many famous people kill themselves prematurely with drugs when they have access to everything the world can offer?

I think it’s because they don’t know what else to do. They’ve won the awards. They’ve garnered universal praise. They can have sex anytime with beautiful people.

But they’ve been chasing something and they haven’t found it yet. They look at their Emmy trophy and think, “This is the little trophy that so many covet. I’ve got it and it felt great at the time, but what is it doing for me now?” Something is still missing.

trophy winner

Today's trophy is found in tomorrow's basement.

When money, power, and fame fail to satisfy their vague and confusing desires for fulfillment, they often give drugs or alcoholism a try.

When they’re under the influence, they do have that temporary euphoric and ethereal type of feeling they have been seeking for. (I’ve never taken a drug, but I’ve been tipsy from alcohol and it is a nice “all is well” feeling.) But then they overdose, and their shiny stardom is reduced to the reality of a frail human that fell prey to themselves.

I recognize that addiction plays a role there, but you can only get addicted by starting in the first place. Why do they start?

What’s the answer?

The answer is perhaps related to why some people want to achieve so much – they’re never satisfied. They want to be more and do more. They feel the need for more money, excitement, and recognition. Like an addiction – it’s never enough.

Some of the poorest people in the world have the answer – the key to a satisfying life – while many of the rich (including the middle class) drown themselves in distraction, alcohol, or drugs because they can’t find it.

It levels the playing field when you realize that materialistic items have no bearing on the capacity to appreciate life and be happy. Do you pity the poor, happy family in Africa or should they pity you?

Be Content

Contentment is the answer. It is not thought of nearly enough – especially in modern materialistic society.

Simply being content is the holy grail of life satisfaction – the only answer. There is no amount of money that can fully satisfy. No amount of sex. No amount of power or fame. Those are empty on their own.

You’ll never be completely satisfied until you are.

It’s nothing more than a choice. I’d say the only prerequisite to being content is to love and be loved. I guess that’s why they say “all we need is love.” That must be why I’ve heard many friends say that the people they’ve met in third world countries are happier than the rich world – all they have is love and anything  extra is a bonus.

In America, we seem to have all of the bonuses but lack the essentials of thankfulness, love, and contentment.

Once you accept your current position in life with positivity – not only will you be happier, but you’ll actually be much better equipped to reach some of those nicer things like money, fame, and hot tubs. These things are fine to have and enjoy – but we don’t need them to be happy and content.

Does Contentment = Stagnancy?

Contentment can sometimes be confused with stagnancy. The thought goes, “if you’re content where you are, why change anything?”

Fortunately, there is a miscalculation there. Can you see it?

Think about the mindset of a content person. Is it boredom? Is it laziness? No no no! A content person is full of passion. A content person enjoys life and naturally pursues its treasures!

Now, what is the mindset of a discontent person? Is it excitement? Is it vigor for life? No no no! A discontent person sulks and wishes for a better life. He may try to change his situation, but if his discontentment is underlying and chronic, it will never end. He will continue to chase Jeff Gordon around the track until he dies (because Jeff Gordon is a better driver).

Here Are Two Myths, Buster

Myth One: A content person does not desire change and improvement.

Absolutely false!

For example, I can be content as a single man (I am close, if not there now), but still desire marriage (I sure do!). The myth comes from thinking that desires come from discontentment (i.e. I don’t like this, and thus I desire change). Actually, desires come from neither discontentment or contentment, but from our personalities and natural preferences.

You do not have to be displeased with something to want to change it. Instead of bad-to-good, it can be good-to-better!

A content individual will have desires greater in number and in diversity. Why? Because a discontent person is typically focused on his problems instead of the other options available.

It’s like having a broken boat.

The content individual recognizes the merits in walking or going bowling as alternatives while still maintaining interest in fixing the boat. But the discontent individual will be absolutely obsessed with fixing the boat. Once it is fixed, he will probably obsess over getting a newer boat.

A discontent man fails to enjoy what he has now.

Myth Two: Discontentment is 100% useless. 

I don’t want to give the impression that we should see everything like Mr. Rogers. Sometimes we just don’t like our neighborhood. Discontentment with a bad situation is both healthy and prudent. If you’re in an abusive relationship, don’t accept that situation. Be very discontent.

The broad point I’m making is that chronic discontentment is a life sieve. If you’re safe with access to food, water, love, and shelter – you already have a lot of reasons to be content in the long term. People around the world are content with LESS than that.

It’s when we make 50k a year and feel like we need 60k and then we’ll be all set that we run into a vicious cycle of never-ending “if onlys.”

Recognize the goodness in your life now and be content. Everything can always get better, which presents exciting opportunities to improve. Pursue better things, but don’t do it because better is required. Do it because better is better!

Let go.

Let good be good enough.

About the Author

I'm lazy, but you can call me Stephen. When you're as lazy as I am, you need superior strategies to live well. My strategies are so effective that I'm productive every single day. As the world tries to figure out how to always stay motivated, I create strategies that don't require it.

Justin | Mazzastick

It is true that our mind can and never will be satisfied. Contentment comes through the soul and spirit.

I still have desires yet I am not controlled by the belief that having more will make me happy. I do it because I enjoy it.

Stephen Guise

You have a great perspective on life, Justin. That’s definitely what I’m striving for and what I recommend in this post.

Chris Jones@soundspott

I think no one in the world is satisfied with what they are. Like a student begging for a A+(I never do that). Be content, is a better way to live, but I doubt someone can do it. I know that I want more in my life, everything a man can get, but I’ll try my best to get it into the right track. I got many years left in my life, I can get what I want, but I only want what I really want.
Thanks for his awesome post

Riley Harrison

Being content seems to equate to living in the present moment.
Riley

Martyn Chamberlin

Have I ever mentioned you’re a good writer?

Even if I wasn’t interested in being fulfilled in life, the sheer humor is enough to excuse attention.

Stephen Guise

It is absolutely possible to be content. People have done it!

Glad you liked the post.

Stephen Guise

That’s an astute (and correct) observation. I like it. Thanks for the insight Riley.

Stephen Guise

Not until now! Thanks very much, I’m always glad to find others out there who share my sense of humor. 😀

Haha, humans are nearly required to be interested in life fulfillment, but I’m sure there are a few who rebel.

Patricia Troyer

Ah, now there’s the writer we have all come to know and respect. Truly outstanding, my friend. Nice to have you back.

Stephen Guise

Thanks Patricia! I’m happy you liked it. It’s good to be back. 😀

Robert

Hey man. Long, long time! Hope you’re good and fully over the spider bite!

Stephen this is a truly AMAZING post, and I really love how you brought it all together at the end. Oh while we’re on the subject of “loving what you do”, I really like how your stuff is actually original. I’m getting fed up with reading blog posts that are obviously rehashed Covey or Zen Habit stuff (these are the main two things that are ripped off), it’s great that you don’t do that and you actually have your own opinion.

Anyway, back to the post. This is such a big deal. People need to learn to focus on what they’ve already got rather than what they haven’t got. Like you said, they get into the vicious cycle of 50k needs to be 60 etc. These people are never happy.

We’ve got to concentrate on the “basics”, because I believe that they are the most important (yet most often took for granted) aspects of our lives.

The mere fact that any of us can get on here and read this post makes us much more fortunate than a large proportion of people in the world. But most of us chase things that aren’t important and will never make us happy.

Great example about the boat.

Speak soon.

Stephen Guise

Hey Robert,

Thanks for that great comment. Originality is very important to me. I started “blogging” about personal development via Facebook Notes (I deleted them when I moved here). The notes were thoughts on how we could think and live better.

That humble beginning gave me a clear picture of what it’s like to write from the heart and not copy others. I think many other bloggers start with the idea of having a personal development blog and then research all the other personal development blogs – so they tend to write about the same stuff.

You’re right! Having computer and internet access is a huge blessing. It presents opportunities galore and all the information we could imagine.

I agree that it’s a big deal, and a lot of people struggle with it. Thanks for your thoughts Robert. I see your new blog is up! Congrats!

Robert

No worries. Thanks for jumping over and commenting! 🙂 Speak soon

alfa 4c

Every little thing you don’t have will be of interest to you… until you have it. Marriage fits well in this category, whether you admit it or not. The thing about marriage is the same with your observation of life. It is full of surprises and opportunities. Not the ones you would expect, but still… there are enough of those. Marriage won’t be what you might expect of it in a vast majority of cases. Accepting this reality might lead to the marriage’s survival.

I think there is some truth in saying that being content leads to some sort of halt in your life. And my argument is very simple: as long as you are content with your current situation you are less likely to try and change (improve) something. You might think that “you are going to” but that’s in the future. We live in the present and if you are not actively doing it, it doesn’t really matter if “you are going to” (improve anything).

I would note however, that the level of contentment a person can get is not directly proportional with the number or quality of achievements, but with one’s capacity to experience satisfaction.

Justin Harmon

Hi Stephen,

I haven’t been to your site in awhile and was ready for some Deep thinkin 🙂 and some humor as always. I was thinking while reading this article that no matter if a person is content or is continuously searching, that there will always be a void. It seems that people in general end up chasing something and if that void gets filled, they just need to fill another void. I think that we seek pleasure and when that pleasure is filled, it doesn’t do anything for us any longer and we just move on to the next. I am not sure humans will ever be fulfilled. Thoughts?

abhishek

Wow Stephen, i loved your article. This is something refreshing i have read after a long long time on internet. It helped me clarify a lot of confusion in my mind. Lots of heartfelt thanks.

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