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Why You Should Seek Fulfillment Instead of Happiness

contentThere’s something about the idea of feeling fulfilled.

Most people seek happiness, and it’s a strange thing that society almost makes us feel insufficient if we don’t maintain a standard of happiness 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

It’s almost as if the idea of happiness and the fact that we don’t have that all too fleeting joy, all the time, means that our lives are lacking in some regard.

Some people are even insecure about the fact that sometimes they get sad, as if a perfectly natural human emotion is some sort of defect.

My generation has ingrained in us the idea that we’re entitled to do what we love and to be happy, and although that would be perfectly ideal, it’s not a reality.

I think that’s a big reason for disillusionment and the reason so many of us feel like we’re struggling.

I know I deal with this feeling a lot of the time and I’m learning, for myself at least, that it’s ok and natural and perfectly fine not to be happy sometimes.

That’s the crux, it’s ok to feel worry and sadness.

Of course you want to combat those feelings but maybe it’s ok to just sit with them for a little while and feel them.

Personally, I’ve decided instead to seek fulfillment.

Instead of happiness, which realistically isn’t sustainable, fulfillment is the idea or feeling that things are ok even if you’re going through a rough patch. It’s the knowledge that you’ve got comfort and a stable foundation and that you’re working towards something bigger.

Sometimes it takes the form of religion, in the form of prayer and seeking communion in something bigger than yourself, sometimes you find fulfillment in taking care of your self with good food and exercise, and sometimes fulfillment takes the form of doing a good job at work, making headway in a project that will make you feel proud.

The thing about fulfillment is that it’s personal, it’s yours and yours alone.

Fulfillment is the warm feeling in your stomach when you’ve done something good for yourself, It’s when you’re not relying on the praise of others or a pay check or attention to make you feel good, because inevitably those things only feel good for a few fleeting minutes before you’re thinking about something else.

Fulfillment is knowing you’ve done a good job in anything you choose to do. It’s knowing you’ve worked hard to try to improve things for others or for the future. You don’t have to accomplish great things to get it, just knowing that you’re trying or that you tried your best can fuel the sense of fulfillment.

It takes some introspection and some soul searching to figure out the things which cause you to feel fulfilled, it takes being aware of the struggle of others and the fact that in some instances you have the power to make things a little better for someone else.

In essence it’s the idea of doing good for the world, being the change you want to see. I know that I want to know that I did my best at the end of my life instead of feeling like the things I did were superfluous.

That’s why I’ve decided to seek fulfillment at least, instead of hustling to do great things or to get paid a lot of money I find comfort in the fact that what I write has the potential to help someone out.

I think it would all do us some good to start focusing on the things that fill the gap in our heart instead of the new sports car or the mansion in the Bahamas.

Material things only last for so long, knowing that you did your best and that you tried to improve things is the only feeling that truly matters.

Why You Should Seek Fulfillment Instead of Happiness

Michael Hedrick

Michael Hedrick is a writer and photographer who has lived with schizophrenia since he was 20. His work has been featured in Salon, The Week, Scientific American and The New York Times. You can purchase his book 'Connections' here or Follow his blog on Living with Schizophrenia here.

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APA Reference
Hedrick, M. (2015). Why You Should Seek Fulfillment Instead of Happiness. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 1, 2020, from


Last updated: 18 May 2015
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