Imagine a sizzling slice of tender meat with melted cheese hugging it from the top placed in the middle of two fluffy hamburger buns. Two thin slices of ripe tomatoes rest below a crip and fresh layer of onions and lettuce. The vegetables, meat, and cheese soften into one as you flatten the ingredients into one aromatic burger. Ketchup oozes from the sides as your teeth clamp down on the tasty delight.
Happiness is a temporary feeling. Fulfillment is a consistent range of emotions. Happiness involves chasing seductive pleasures that make you feel relaxed at the moment. Most of the time, people obtain this through the help of external objects and influences (alcohol, gambling, drugs, etc.). When people seek pleasure, they take shortcuts to achieve a quicker and more comfortable solution. These solutions, of course, don’t last. Fulfillment finds satisfaction from internal success. This is achieved through periodically appreciating your accomplishments. Accomplishments aren’t always sunshine and rainbows. They can involve sad and harsh moments that helped shape your view on life. In the most simple terms, happiness looks for satisfaction in external objects. Fulfillment stems from an internal purpose.
Humans could never evolve if they were content will being happy. In the early Stone Age, capturing a squirrel would bring you joy because you would not starve to death. However, this feeling would only last until you would become hungry again. You would realize a squirrel is not enough to keep you full. Therefore, you would start thinking of ways you could capture bigger game, like a wolf or a bear. You would tinker around with sticks and stones until you built a spear. Change is how we grow as a society and evolve individually. Innovation exists because we are not satisfied with today’s solutions to solving a problem. Contentment would lead to the death of our nation.
Most people believe the purpose of life is to live comfortably and coast through the years without suffering. While an individual’s purpose in life can never be wrong, their thinking can be flawed. It’s essential to understand happiness is not an end goal or a sustainable feeling. It’s a by-product that naturally comes when you fulfill what is meaningful to you. Happiness keeps you moving forwards during difficult chapters in your life. Pleasure and suffering are additional outputs generated by your time and energy. This insight dates back to the times of the ancient Greeks and Romans. They believed happiness was a lifestyle of living in harmony with your inner being. Life was about accepting suffering and discomfort instead of resisting it.
The attainment of happiness is overrated in our society because it’s easy. You could pull up to a bar or feed cash into a machine, and suddenly, your brain tricks you into a pleasurable feedback loop. The joy and excitement at the moment are the experiences we wish all our days would include. Yet, this is an impossible feat. Humans cannot be happy all the time, no matter how much we would like it. Joy is an extra emotion like suffering. When you feel both, it’s a sign you are pursuing something meaningful. Use happiness as a guide, not as a map.
- Kimsey-House, K. (2012, July 15). Happiness is Overrated…Try Fulfillment. HuffPost. Retrieved from huffpost.com/entry/happiness_b_1511217?guccounter=1
- Rana, Z. (2017, September 3). The purpose of life isn’t to be happy—it’s to be fulfilled. Quartz. Retrieved from qz.com/1067774/the-purpose-of-life-isnt-to-be-happy-its-to-be-fulfilled/