We’re entering the home stretch of our journey. If you’ve been with me through all of this, let’s quickly review what we’ve covered (if you haven’t read the previous articles, I strongly recommend you do so in order to get a full understanding of this topic):
#1) We covered the basics of the Pyramid of Vitality and how it can have an impact on your life.
#2) Understanding that your Values and your Purpose drive the Pyramid is imperative to making the decisions you need to make in order to lead the life you want to lead.
#3) How you move, how often you move, and how you rest and recover are the only 3 things you can change in order to develop better fitness.
#4) In order to have a Lifestyle you want, the 3 functions you need to pay attention to are how you behave, how you eat, and how you rest and recover.
Which brings us to the final characteristic of the Pyramid of Vitality. Because this final characteristic is so important, I want to break it up into 2 articles. This first article will give us basis of understanding for what makes us happy. The second article will go into the 3 functions of Fulfillment, the final characteristic, and give you actionable steps in order to become more fulfilled in your life.
Tony Robbins says that there are 2 skills in life that we all must master. The first skill in the science of achievement. Notice I say “science” of achievement. These are the tactics, strategies and steps that you can take in order to attain a result. We’ve talked about some strategies to moving better and feeling better and eating better. These are strategies fit into the science of achievement.
The second skill that we all need to master in life is the art of fulfillment. This time I referred to fulfillment as an “art” and not as a “science”. Fulfillment is an art because it is different from person to person. While eating whole foods and moderate carbs is a strategy to help anybody to become a healthier version of themselves, it’s not so simply to point out one strategy to that will make anybody fulfilled. What fulfills me will not necessarily fulfill you. My purpose in life is to help as many people as I can become as healthy and vital as they can be. You might read that and think that it sounds like the most boring thing you could possibly do.
The problem is, even though many people achieve ultimate vitality or become rich beyond their means, most of us don’t understand what is going to make us happy. And, as Tony Robbins says, success without fulfillment is the ultimate failure. So let’s see what we can do to buck this trend.
Happiness is a hot topic nowadays. Even though we should much happier now than we were 10, 20, 50, 100 years ago, it seems to be slipping the other way. Take happiness per GDP for instance. Although GDP per capita has gone up significantly over the last 30 years, the average American’s happiness in that same amount of time has stayed the same or declined. So why are we getting more sad even though we are wealthier overall?
Plenty of research has been done in order to answer this question. There is one particular study that I find intriguing that may help you understand why we struggle to be fulfilled in such an abundant age. In 1978, a group of recent lottery winners and a group of recent accident victims turned paraplegics or quadriplegics were interviewed. The researchers asked the groups a handful of questions, one of which was to rate their average current happiness. The lottery winners, on average, rated their happiness at a level of 3.33 out of 5. Not bad, but maybe you expected it to be higher. The accident victims, on the other hand, rated their happiness at a level of 3.48 out of 5. Yup, you read that right. The accident victims, on average, had a higher rate of happiness than lottery winners.
So how does it even make sense that someone who has become a paraplegic is happier in their life than someone who has recently become a millionaire? After all, if you asked a group of people to rate their assumed happiness after such events, they would certainly say that they would be much happier as lottery winners than they would be as paraplegics.
What we don’t see, and often overlook as the consumer society we’ve become, is what happens after an event happens. Although we may assume that winning the lottery would make us filfilled, just like we assume that having a jelly donut or buying a Michael Kors purse will make us fulfilled, what we don’t understand is the principle of adaptation.
As a consumer society, we pride ourselves on the things that we have and believe that having those things will make us happy and fulfilled. And once we have one thing, and aren’t fulfilled, we buy another thing, assuming that THAT thing will make us happy. And once that doesn’t work, we buy more and more and more, until we just convince ourselves that we can’t be happy no matter what.
The problem isn’t that we can’t be happy. The problem is that we’re pursuing the wrong THING to make us happy. You see, we adapt to having things. People think that having more money or a jelly donut or a Michael Kors purse will make them happy. And that would be right, for a while. Your mind has this funny way of adapting to the things you have. And unless you constantly reflect and give gratitude to those things (which most of us don’t), your mind will adapt to them and look for the next thing that will make it instantly happy.
This is the dangerous feedback loop we put ourselves through on a constant basis. If you don’t take the time to correct it, I.E. figure out what it is that truly makes you fulfilled, then you will constantly be seeking the one thing that makes you happy (with very little likelihood of actually finding it).
As you see, fulfillment is not a short term proposition. In fact, fulfillment is something that you are constantly working on and figuring out as you go through life. What makes you happy and fulfilled in your 20s is going to be different than what makes you happy and fulfilled in your 50s. The key is building the foundation to be able to adapt to those changes so that you’re not blown completely of course when something steps in your way.
We will all have periods in our lives where something unforeseen will happen. No matter what it is, it is going to change your life forever. For now, it’s up to you to build the resilience that you need in order to take on these events and attach them head on. In our next article, we’ll cover the 3 functions of fulfillment, which will give you some insight on what you need to do to build resilience within yourself. This resilience will not only lead to fulfillment, but also allow you to take on the surprises in life that we don’t see coming.