Have you ever helped a stranger before?
It doesn’t need to be a huge deed, maybe just helping an old woman carry a heavy bag of groceries.
How did you feel afterwards?
Proud? Happy? A warm, fuzzy feeling?
Well, for me, I often feel that way.
But just a quick question.
How many of you actually feel that way when you are at work?
A warm fuzzy feeling each time you leave work, knowing that you have done the best you could and that you had made a difference to the lives of others.
Not many of you I suppose.
For this moment, just think about it. Let’s assume all things remain constant and each day this is what happens.
You leave work pretty weary, with not much fulfillment and this occurs each day until the end of your life.
How would you measure up your life?
Would that kind of life be the one that you want to live?
Very likely not.
How to find fulfillment?
You see, as human beings, you and I have long desired feelings of happiness, satisfaction, and fulfillment. Many of us, including me, have been trying to feel fulfilled in what we do in life. We try and we try, but how many of us have this sense of fulfillment each day?
Fulfillment comes from the knowledge that you have lived your life to the fullest. It is when your purpose and deeds are in perfect symmetry, and each day you are living out your values.
“Follow your heart” has become a popular mantra in our modern society, and many of you may believe in it. Among those who believe, it has worked for some, but for many others, it has not. This is because many chase after what they dream: wealth, fame, position, yet in their pursuit, they question if it is worth it. For the fortunate few who accomplish their dreams, the question left behind is, what next?
Many believe meaning can be found in the things one possesses, but it actually can only be found within the person.
Recently, Google’s former head of international relations, Ross LaJeunesse, published an article on why he left Google. He initially believed in the company’s motto, ‘Don’t be evil’, but as time passed, it changed. In his own words, “To me, no additional evidence was needed that “Don’t be evil” was no longer a true reflection of the company’s values; it was now nothing more than just another corporate marketing tool.”
In summary, LaJeunesse was frustrated with the many decisions in which Google ignored ethical concerns for the sake of the bottom line. It eventually led to LaJeunesse leaving Google. That news surprised me. I am sure you were too, right?
Why would someone with a high-paying job, international recognition, and so much we crave for, leave? I reflected on it and I came to a conclusion.
LaJeunesse had a sense of purpose; he wanted to stand up for his principles. He was less concerned about the perks that came with the job, than doing what he believed was right.
The fundamental question for living life to the fullest
In today’s society, the majority are mistaken about two things: enjoyment and meaning. Many believe that enjoying what you do means you derive meaning from it. That is not necessarily true.
In an extreme example, I may enjoy gambling, but in doing so it would cripple myself with heavy debts and eventually my family.
You may be enjoying what you are doing now, but the fundamental question for living life to the fullest is this: have you made a difference to the lives of others?
As Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’”
To find fulfilment, don’t let short-term enjoyment compel you, instead, be compelled by purpose. Be compelled by the ‘why’ within you.
I know that all these are a hard pill to swallow. But the benefits of doing so are far beyond your imagination.
Pursuing meaning is perhaps the root of happiness and success, the things you have been searching for.
Now, it wasn’t I who said it, but Viktor Frankl. He was someone who was trapped in the German concentration camps. He was stripped of his identity, witnessed tens to hundreds of deaths each day, and faced a seemingly eternal length of suffering.
This was what he said in his book Man’s Search for Meaning.
“Don’t aim at success – the more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side-effect of one’s dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one’s surrender to a person other than oneself.”
To find fulfillment, happiness, and success, just focus on purpose. Focus on a cause greater than yourself. Focus on surrendering yourself to a person other than yourself.
For that will reap far more than you could ever imagine.
Nathanael Siew is the founder of the personal development website Wise Living Today, a website aimed at inspiring people to see the world through lenses of hope. With in-depth content and fresh insights, his articles empower readers to live a more meaningful and effective life.