Freedom earned can be lost. Freedom discovered endures.
I was given a homework assignment this week as part of an inspired business development group I recently joined. My homework was to fill in a “life wheel”, ranking my degree of fulfillment in eight different key areas of life. At first, I stared blankly at the worksheet and tried to accurately assess each area on a scale of 1 to 10.
After several minutes of struggling to even fill in one part of the wheel, I wondered if my inability to gauge my fulfillment was the result of the wheel already being entirely full. I started filling in the wheel to see if that was true, and it turns out it was! All at once I was reminded of the realization I’d had six years ago: that fulfillment is always the case, and that the only thing that shifts is our awareness of it!
Now, does that “100% fulfillment” mean I am sitting pretty on a pile of money? No: not in a conventional sense anyway. Would I like that to be the case? Well, that would certainly allow me the opportunity to set up my humanitarian foundation, go all in on my life’s work of helping people take life to the next level, and add to the growing collection of books I’ve authored. And while I love the idea of those possibilities syncing up with my current reality, the fact that that experience is not here now takes nothing away from the degree to which I experience fulfillment.
You see, I think differently than most people, but that wasn’t always the case. Like so many people I talk to these days, I used to believe that if I got all the “right pieces” in all the “right places”, I’d be seeped in an experience of enduring fulfillment, and life would be a non-stop bliss picnic. But as good as I was at identifying and achieving my goals, there always seemed to be some area of life that fell short on fulfillment. After almost four decades of trying and failing to create an experience of enduring fulfillment, I was utterly depleted, and in a moment of deep resignation, I gave up my quest.
In the days that followed, an innocent curiosity took up residence in the mental/emotional space that had previously been filled with unrelenting angst. In that energetic expanse, I realized the sun never stops shining, which helped me enjoy the rain and no longer fear the dark. I realized the pinnacle nature of this one pristine moment, which put an end to my futile “striving”. More than anything, I realized that the only thing that had interfered with my experience of enduring fulfillment had been my limiting thought process which presumed that fulfillment was something that must be attained.
But why then, if I’m so fulfilled, would I still have goals to start foundations and businesses and books? That’s the beautiful part. These inspirations arise as a natural expression of fulfillment rather than as an attempt to attain fulfillment. Because I no longer chase fulfillment or run from fear, I am able to stand clear surveying the expansive horizon. I am able to step in whatever direction feels most aligned with who I know myself to be in this moment, and step towards experiences that will show me ever more deeply to myself.
Each step is fueled by fulfillment. Even if at times there is a fleeting experience of uncertainty or disappointment or frustration, those limiting conditioned (and human) experiences arise as a swell on the ocean of fulfillment. There is a coy smile woven throughout each brief heartache: a smile that quickly dispels the illusion of struggle and oppression. I bow to each moment looking for what I may learn, and in doing so, I learn what it is that I have to share and teach others.
Even the depth of loneliness, which had persistently threatened to engulf me numerous times throughout my life, has found safe harbor with me. When it knocks at my door, I invite it in for tea and conversation, and listen as it shares the depth of its sorrow. I thank loneliness for serving its purpose so honorably. Before long, loneliness is transformed into radiant warmth as a result of feeling seen, heard, and valued.
So how might this insight serve your own quest for fulfillment? Perhaps it will inspire you to rest the quest for fulfillment, and instead simply explore ways to expand awareness of the enduring fulfillment that is already the case. If you’d like some more insights on how to best do that, I’m happy to both share what I know and help guide you to original insights of your own.