Producer’s note: Someone on Quora asked: How can I build my life around being fulfilled in a deeper and richer manner? Here is one of the best answers that’s been pulled from the thread.
Everyone wants to be rich. When we’re children, we imagine that we can be anything in the world. I wanted to be Michael Jordan—to play in the NBA and make game-winning shots. I thought that if I were MJ I’d feel happy, successful, and be admired by everyone. At some point in high school the reality set in that I didn’t have the height or athletic prowess to be a professional basketball player. The truth is, we think about money and happiness in the same way.
We think that being wealthy will bring us happiness. We chase monetary value and success in a never ending game of cat and mouse. After we achieve our goals and make the money we thought would bring happiness, we still feel that something’s missing. We find that we don’t have the time to relax and enjoy what we’ve earned because responsibilities and more expensive habits have a way of increasing our workload.
Building a deeper and richer life aimed at personal fulfillment is more challenging than acquiring material wealth. With personal wellbeing, you can’t sell out and become one dimensional. One paradox of American life is that we have more wealth, more technology and more worldwide connections, and yet we’re more depressed and anxious than ever before. That’s because focusing on one thing neglects other important areas that lead to more fulfilling lives.
Here’s five ways to build a more fulfilling life:
1. Aim for balance. It’s always the best option. Rather than focusing only on your physical health, make sure you address your mental and emotional wellbeing as well. Instead of only pursuing money, also pursue relationships, because both will contribute to your happiness. Balancing between the dualities of the life is the fastest way to find fulfillment.
2. Deepen relationships. Money does improve quality of life and contributes to happiness, but only to a certain point. After you earn more than a middle-class paycheck, stress and other negative emotions increase more than the happiness gained through the extra cash. No matter how much you earn, relationships improve long-lasting happiness and emotional wellbeing. Relationships will create a deep sense of meaning and enrich your life.
3. Connect to something larger than yourself. Change your outlook on life. Take a step back and get a fresh perspective on your issues. When you step outside of your challenges and connect to something larger than yourself, you realize that your day-to-day limitations—the things that make you upset and angry—are small compared to the blessings in your life. Take time to reflect and enjoy all the opportunities that you have rather than staying focused on every small thing that doesn’t go your way.
4. Practice gratitude. Take time out of your night to express your thankfulness for all of your privileges and good experiences. Write down three things you’re grateful for, or share them with your partner. The more you practice shifting your focus from negative self-consumed thoughts to more positive and uplifting aspects of your life, the more positive changes you’ll observe in your state of mind.
5. Bring yourself to the present moment. Constantly return to the here-and-now. Check in with yourself throughout the day and regain your composure. When you’re grounded in the present moment, you have access to a deeper awareness that expands your experiences in the world. Meditation is the practice of becoming present, and when you take this to the next level—regaining your presence throughout the day—you’ll soak up each moment and live a more fulfilling life.
Balance is the key to personal fulfillment. Don’t try to be the next Michael Jordan, just embrace your true self and share your light with others. Don’t listen to people who sell you on only growing in only one aspect of your life. Work with others to improve your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health. As you practice aligning these components with your goals, you’ll soon attract the happiness and deep contentment you desire.