The Secret to Living a Fulfilling Life: Less is More When You…
Is your idea of living a fulfilling life like Linda’s? As soon as Linda graduated from college, she set out to live life to the full. A 9 to 5 job wasn’t for her. She wanted to see and experience everything — rock climbing in Yosemite, spelunking in Belize, swimming with the dolphins, traveling El Camino de Santiago in Spain, visiting museums across Europe, eating exotic foods, immersing herself in the culture of each location.
Along the way she worked at a vineyard, in various kitchens, on a fishing boat and more. She was determined to cram her life full of experiences. Constantly on the move, she searched for a feeling of deep satisfaction with her life. Yet she was driven to try more intense activities to feel alive. The thought of staying in one place filled her with dread. In her quest, she focused on external sources for excitement, losing touch with her inner strength, peace and balance.
The need for constant motion and busyness is taught from an early age in many cultures today. Parents don’t feel like they’re giving their children every advantage unless they pack each day full of activities like soccer practice, dance lessons, art classes, language courses, etc. If a child is bored, they’re given electronics to provide entertainment. The arts of imagination and innovation, which demand quiet stillness, are being crowded out.
At the same time, the industrial age of assembly lines and mass production pushes us to make something of ourselves, i.e., something spectacular and amazing based on money or position. We’re told to Hustle! Be productive! Go for the gusto! Fulfill your bucket list. If you don’t keep busy, busy, busy, you’re lazy or boring.
I challenge this need to be busy for the sake of productivity. There’s beauty in being more selective about the quality of our work. Growing up in Italy, I saw the work of the Masters. Paintings, stonework, gardens, cathedrals…they still hold the meditative power with which the Masters imbued them centuries ago.
We can choose to slow down and approach what we do and how we live in the same manner. Ask yourself: What is the quality of my being, when I am engaged in a particular activity? Am I doing it because I can, or because I want to?
Living a fulfilling life means being mindfully present in each moment and appreciating it. Sometimes there’s excitement; sometimes there’s a calm joyfulness in simply being. The moments of quiet and stillness allow time for deep thought and introspection. It creates focus and stops the chase after each “Bright Shiny Object” that comes along.
For my client, Linda, these moments of stillness were painful because there were things she was trying to shut out and not think about. Through our work together, she learned to trust herself, to feel safe and ready to “face her demons”. Traveling is still an important part of her life, but now she’s not running away from a problem, but journeying to her chosen future. She discovered that the secret to living a fulfilling life was not to keep adding to it, but to remove some things and then do a few things extraordinarily well.
Your path to living a fulfilling life will be unique to you, so don’t be distracted by what everyone else is doing. If you feel you’ve lost your way, I urge you to learn to trust your body and listen to what it’s directing you to do. Every month, I share new ways of doing that in my Neways News. You can subscribe to this valuable resource for free. What are you waiting for?