What’s our purpose? What does the good life look like? How can we live fulfilled? These questions have been asked for centuries, and it seems that, in order to live a full life, part of the answer is to do certain things. Like spending time with the people we love, sleeping well, being creative, etc. However, part of the answer is also to stop doing certain things. And more often than not, what stops people from fulfillment is what they are already doing. It’s not always about adding things but getting rid of what’s destructive. No matter how much you decorate a room, it won’t look nice unless you clean it.
In this article, I will look into three habits that fulfilled people don’t engage in. I have some experience with them too, and I certainly feel my own sense of fulfillment drop when I engage in these things.
Here are the three C’s of destruction:
There will always be other people around, and we will always have a natural inclination to compare ourselves with them. It’s what we do, as human beings. Psychologist Leon Festinger explained that we are motivated for comparison because of a need to know the self, and a need to determine the abilities of others. But this comparison process can have drawbacks. Because when we compare our own situation to someone else’s and infer that we are lacking in some sense, our fulfillment drops. As a writer, I experience this from time to time. I sometimes look at the follower count of other writers, and it doesn’t make me feel too good. So what can we do about it?
While some comparison is inevitable, there are ways to keep our fulfillment high despite it. We can acknowledge the presence of others, yet refrain from actively seeking out the comparison. E.g., checking up on someone’s social media just to see how many followers they have. Furthermore, when we do compare, we can use it for something constructive rather than destructive and use others for inspiration and guidance. It doesn’t have to be pure destruction and fulfilled people know that. Besides, they also know the only person worth comparing themselves to, is their past selves.
The human experience can be tough sometimes. Bad things happen, we don’t get what we want, and we feel worn by the adversities of life. But still, it’s how we see these experiences that affect our sense of fulfillment. And of all the ways we can see them, complaining is what brings about the most destruction. Research reveals it can even degenerate the brain’s center for learning and memory. When something bad happens, complaining doesn’t help us. Although it might feel good at the moment, it only brings about negativity and unfulfilled sensation in the long term.
This is probably the habit I’m the least good at refraining from. I remember a time I was better at it, but I’ve noticed I’ve been complaining more lately. But the important part is that I’ve noticed now. Because then I can try my best to reduce it. But what can we do about complaining?
Well, hardships are a part of life, but complaining about them is optional. Instead of complaining, we can be grateful for what we have. Instead of bemoaning our troubles, we can acknowledge our anger and frustration. Instead of negativity and victim-mentality, we can change our view of the situation and focus on the solutions. Fulfilled people choose to see the positive.
It seems like there’s no end to the amount of media we can consume. Books, podcasts, movies, etc. And it’s something most of us engage with. And that’s ok; life is more entertaining this way. But taken to the extreme, consumption can have a negative impact on fulfillment. It can actually distract us from our life’s purpose. When consumption becomes too high, we withdraw from having an active role in the world. We numb ourselves with a hedonistic activity and are distracted from pursuing the greater things in life. We choose immediate pleasure over the meaning and long-term fulfillment.
I know how it is. Consumption feels good, and sometimes I just want to watch YouTube videos instead of doing something productive. But if I watch too many, I usually don’t feel very good afterward. I feel unfulfilled. So what can we do about it?
Because media consumption does have its benefits, it means that it’s our management of it that matters. We must try our best to limit it, or better yet, find our own individual balance between producing and consuming. Ideally, we should work on something bigger than ourselves before we withdraw to pleasure ourselves. Fulfilled people know this. They feel better when they engage in something purposeful. And only after they’ve served others do they relax with selfish entertainment. Besides, they really don’t have time for too much consumption. They got something bigger to live for, and strive to make that happen.
Fulfilled people are not perfect. They might engage in these habits from time to time, but what separates them from the rest is that they work their best to limit them. And that’s what matters. Working to better ourselves is a path to fulfillment.