Living a fulfilling life doesn’t need to be complicated. In fact, it’s far less complicated than you may think.
The biggest hurdle that people run into is a lack of patience. It takes time to smooth out the rough edges, heal the negative, and grow the positive in its place.
It’s much like growing a garden.
First, you have to prepare the soil by tilling it up and making it easier to work with. Then, you go through and remove old roots, discard rocks, and get rid of anything else that will interfere with your plants’ growth.
Second, you fertilize or mix in some richer topsoil, so the plants have plenty of nutrients for nourishment.
Third, you plant your seeds and make sure they have enough room to grow with some water to get them going.
You have to tend to your plants and wait. You need the patience to let those seeds grow and bloom into what you’ve been waiting for.
Self-improvement? Finding fulfillment and happiness in life? It’s the same. You can’t rush these things.
So, let’s talk about some seeds that you can plant and nurture into a fulfilling life for yourself.
1. Create purpose for your life.
Many people believe that finding their purpose in life will give them happiness. Chances are pretty good it won’t. Here’s the thing about purpose: it may not be pleasant or happy. What if your purpose in life is volunteering at a crisis call center? Or working in an emergency room? Or working with people in poverty?
Many things are worth doing that provide a sense of purpose that aren’t happy at all. In fact, the things that really need to be done usually aren’t going to be happy.
But dedicating your time and life to a purpose is something that can provide fulfillment.
And here’s the good news! You don’t have to “find” your purpose. You can just create one! Go help some people that need it. Enter a profession that lets you make a difference in the lives of others. Choose something and make it your purpose.
2. Nurture your relationships.
Take the time to nurture and care for your relationships. Life can be so busy at times. It’s easy to get sucked up into the whirlwind of responsibilities and things you have to do. As you get older, it can be much more difficult to maintain friendships and relationships with the people you care about because you have even more to do.
You have to make time for your relationships. Even if it’s just hanging out once in a while or getting together on a holiday. It will help you stay connected and have some community as you move forward. And a sense of community with friends, family, and other acquaintances is hugely fulfilling.
If you don’t have many friends or a community, try looking into social activities in your area. For example, sign up for a casual sports league, take some classes, or do some volunteer work. That will get you out and socializing with other people.
3. Say “Yes!” more often.
“Yes” is a key that opens up doors to things you may have never known you wanted. Don’t define yourself by everything you think you know about who you are. Take some risks! Say yes to opportunities when they come around! Because they won’t always come around.
Allow yourself the freedom to grow and experience new things. Life is a constant learning process where you will hopefully be gaining new experiences and perspectives. Don’t cut yourself off from life by retreating behind the safety of, “Oh, I don’t think so…”
4. Be disciplined with your time.
There are people out there who struggle with the idea of schedules and discipline with their time. They may feel constrained by trying to keep themselves to a schedule, but it’s one of the best things you can do for yourself.
Time is the most valuable resource you have in life. You only get 24 hours a day, just like everyone else. And once it’s gone, you can’t get more of it. You can always earn more money or buy more stuff, but time is finite, and you should be ruthless about what you dedicate your time to.
Don’t waste it. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have fun or enjoy some rest and relaxation! Balance is the key.
5. Forgive easily, forgive often.
Many people look at others, or themselves, as either good or bad. But really, there is a huge middle ground between good and bad where pretty much everyone is. The best person you know probably has some choices they regret in their life. And the worst person you know has probably done something kind or nice for someone else at some point in their life.
Let go of the mindset of good and bad. Instead, let people be the flawed creatures that they are. Forgive easily, forgive often. Forgive yourself for not doing the right things, then make better choices now that you know better.
It’s going to be difficult to have a fulfilling life when you’re carrying the weight of your regret, resentment, or suffering around your neck. Most people aren’t evil. They just do wrong things because they act out of their own suffering or don’t know any better.
6. Chase your dreams.
Don’t let your dreams be dreams! Is there something that sparks your passion? Something that you just can’t get out of your mind? Are you doing it? Well, why not!?
Chase your dreams if you have a dream. You don’t want to look back on your life and regret what you didn’t try (because science suggests that those will be the biggest regrets you’ll have). Sometimes a dream has an expiry date. Don’t miss the opportunity when you have it in front of you.
Go get it!
7. Let life flow how it needs to.
Sometimes, you just have to let life flow how it needs to flow. That is, you need to know when to let go and let the current take you.
The best example is trying to make a relationship work that clearly is not working. A person may cling to a relationship that isn’t working out of fear of being alone or because they are comfortable. It may be that their partner isn’t a bad person at all. They may get along okay, but the spark needed for a romantic relationship just isn’t there anymore (if it were ever there to begin with). By holding on to it, it’s actually making the situation worse for both parties.
Not letting go is preventing them both from finding the fulfillment and happiness that they are looking for.
8. Do a little bit every day.
You don’t need to do it all at once. There are plenty of things that you can’t do all at once. What if you want to start eating more healthily and exercising? That isn’t something that will bear fruit overnight. And it’s not something you have to get right all at once. It’s something you’ll have to dedicate regular time and effort to before things will start working how you want them to.
Start small. Do a little bit each day to take yourself closer to your dreams, passions, and desires. That will help you build momentum toward accomplishing your goals and nurturing your fulfillment.
9. Don’t dwell on your regrets.
There’s a common saying that, “Everyone has regrets.” That statement is much deeper than it appears.
Does everyone have something they wish they had done differently? Absolutely.
Does everyone carry that regret like a cross to bear where it disrupts their life, messes up their opportunities, and keeps them from finding happiness and fulfillment? No.
Regret is a pain that you can heal and grow from if you let yourself. Regret is a tutor that is teaching you what not to do in the future so you can avoid feeling bad about whatever it is you’ve done. Let it teach you so that you can let it go and move forward.
10. Practice gratitude for what you have.
Gratitude is a popular – almost cliché – self-help trope that is regularly touted as the key to a happy and fulfilling life. Don’t let the fact that it’s used so extensively distract you from the fact that it is a powerful tool that you can use in your everyday life.
The power of gratitude shifts your focus from what you don’t have to what you do have. When you regularly practice gratitude, you are training your brain to appreciate all the things you have, even if it’s not much. And the real superpower of gratitude is that it makes the pain and suffering that we experience in life worth something more.
Bad things happen to people every day, ranging from mildly annoying to terribly traumatizing. It is not good that these bad things happen. But it is good that we can survive them and have the opportunity to attempt to overcome them. By being grateful for the trials and tribulations you have in life, you have the opportunity to turn those pains into something fulfilling by confronting and overcoming them.
11. Take some time to breathe.
Life moves at high speed. Sometimes you need to slow down to appreciate what you have and how far you’ve come. Bouncing straight from workday to workday, running errands, trying to get everything done that needs to be accomplished is all well and good, but sometimes you just have to stop and take a breath.
Let yourself rest and relax from time to time. Indulge in something positive for a bit. Then, get out and have some fun once in a while!
12. Keep on learning.
You know what’s fulfilling? Learning something new. Whether it’s a piece of information that you find interesting, or how to do a particular task, it feels good to grow that little bit more by learning something new.
It’s immensely satisfying to push your mental or practical boundaries a little further in terms of what you know and what you are capable of. The alternative is stagnation and that will only drain away what fulfillment you currently have in life.
You don’t have to commit to learning major new skills or knowledge. You don’t have to re-enter education or get specific training, unless you find yourself being pulled in that direction by your intuitive desire. Just keep adding little bits to your overall base of skill and knowledge.
13. Be kind.
Kindness is a gift that gives both ways. Being kind is a gift to the other person. It makes them feel a little bit better about themselves and about the world. It helps to relieve them of their burdens and gives them a brighter outlook on their day, week, month, or life in general.
Being kind is also a gift to yourself. It’s an amazing feeling when you do something nice for someone else. And it’s okay to do nice things and feel good about it – it doesn’t taint the nice thing or turn the act into a selfish one.
You just have to remember that being kind is not always easy and it won’t always feel good at the time. But even when it’s not easy, kindness is the right thing to do. And doing the right thing will give you a sense of gratification eventually.
14. Don’t dwell in negativity.
Life isn’t always the best. Sometimes you’ll experience things that will be hurtful and difficult. That’s okay. That’s all part of the journey. The key is to avoid dwelling in the negativity.
It’s difficult to find peace, happiness, and fulfillment in life if you are constantly drowning yourself in negativity. And there’s plenty of it to go around with all of the social problems, politics, and terrible news that are being broadcast 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
It’s good to be informed, but it’s also good to limit your time and exposure to the ugly parts of life. It just fuels anger, anxiety, and depression, which is like chaining your brain to an anchor and dropping it in the ocean.
Stop making it harder for yourself to find happiness and fulfillment in the positive things you do have by focusing too much on the negative.
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