“How do I create a fulfilling life?” This is one of the core questions I hear over and over when women come to my office seeking support and assistance. Often her more immediate concerns are struggles with depression or anxiety, dealing with loss, or working out troubled relationships, but as these things begin to settle down and get resolved, questions about meaning, purpose and having a fulfilling life rise to the surface.
There is a big difference between surviving and thriving. Getting through each day with effort and a modicum of comfort is a different quality of life than feeling inspired and enjoying your life on a day-to-day basis. While it is unrealistic to expect our lives to be one exciting, joyous day after another, it is certainly possible to feel a basic sense of contentment and happiness and to have the sense that we are realizing our potentials and offering something positive to others along the way.
Everyone defines fulfillment a little differently. For some, fulfillment is found in savoring sensual pleasures, engaging in activities they feel passionate about, spending time in nature or helping others through volunteer work. Other women find fulfillment in nurturing quality relationships, participating in the lives of their grandchildren, creating a beautiful garden or reading for pleasure and intellectual stimulation. Naturally, one can include any or all these things in a fulfilling life.
What are some of the things that can block us from creating a fulfilling life? There are, of course, external circumstances that can temporarily hinder our ability to form a rich, happy life. Divorce, death of a loved one, having to take on a full-time caregiving role for a friend or family member and having to work beyond the age of retirement due to financial necessity are a few of these. Most such issues may hinder and put fulfilling life activities on hold, but few of them become permanent obstacles. Let’s discuss ways that we can act individually and in collaboration with others to create a fulfilling life.
- What do you define as a “fulfilling life” and do you feel you are living with some degree of fulfillment in your current life? What are the sources of this fulfillment?
- Do you think contentment and fulfillment are the same thing or different things? How does contentment differ from fulfillment (if you think it does)?
- Most of us have periods of significant difficulty throughout life. Can you identify changes in circumstance, attitude or behavior that have helped you move beyond these difficulties?
- What do you think it takes for you to create and/or sustain fulfillment in your personal life?
- Describe a recent event, situation, experience or relationship that generated feelings of fulfillment or contentment.
- What role do other people play in helping your life feel fulfilling?