We live in world of commodities. Dominant cultural narratives send us messages that we are not enough and that true happiness comes from external objects.
The problem with this message is that, no matter how much wealth we acquire, there is always something better. Even after you buy that new car or those new shoes, soon after your acquisition, the objects lose their appeal. The truth is, happiness doesn't come from the exterior.
Fulfillment comes from witnessing your own growth. When you're able to hit the pause button and reflect on the substantial changes in your life, you feel a sense of meaning and purpose. Practicing gratitude for these changes propels you with the motivation to continue striving for success, and makes all of your sacrifices worthwhile.
Here are five ways to acquire success and discover fulfillment:
1. Challenge yourself to grow.
Happiness is a byproduct of action. Take steps towards fulfillment by engaging in the never-ending process of self-improvement.
Remain open to new thoughts and ideas, stay hungry for knowledge, and practice what you preach. You can always become a better professional and a better person.
2. Contribute to others.
Authentic fulfillment comes from contributing to others. People enjoy engaging in charity work because it both helps others and feels good.
Prosocial actions make us feel more connected and increases our compassion for people's unique experiences. Facing the existential reality of our own finitude aids our ability to make meaningful connections to others, which opens our hearts and changes our perspective on life.
3. Live in the present moment.
Let go of your never-ending self-talk. Take a short break without scrolling through the endless entertainment of your iPhone. Pause, and just be present.
When an old computer has too many programs running at the same time, it slows down. The more that you can connect to the stillness of the here-and-now, the lower your anxiety and frustration, and the greater your focus.
When you're immersed in the present moment, your productivity and happiness will skyrocket.
4. End your sense of entitlement.
Most of us feel like we "should have" certain things happen. We "should have" gotten that promotion; we "should have" felt appreciated for our good deed; we "should have" had more time to meet a deadline.
The truth is, we construct the small room to which we're imprisoned. When we set expectations for what should happen, we contribute to feeling frustrated, anxious, and depressed.
We need to shift our focus to what is and start being grateful for what we have instead of brooding over what we don't.
5. Connect to something larger than yourself.
Just as giving helps us feel more empathetic with others and appreciative of what we have, sometimes it's important to feel how small our problems really are.
When you immerse yourself in the mountains or swim in the vastness of the ocean, you realize how meaningless your complaints are in the long run. We often give power to our problems and make them larger than they need to be.
If success and fulfillment is what makes our lives worthwhile, then we need to put problems back in their proper place.
Suffering is part of the human condition. Looking for happiness outside of yourself contributes to unhappiness and leads to regret at the end of life.
Stop expecting and start appreciating. Stop thinking about what "should be" and start being grateful for "what is." The more you can continue learning and growing, the happier you'll become.
When you challenge yourself to grow, contribute to others, and live in the present moment, you will improve your productivity and feel a sense of fulfillment.
After ending your sense of entitlement and changing your perspective on your problems, you'll be equipped to acquire wealth and the one thing money can't buy--fulfillment.