Friday, September 3, 2010

Four Ways of Pursuing Fulfillment

To my mind, there are four* ways that a person can use toward making meaning and fulfillment in his life: career, love, volunteerism and hobbies.

A very few fortunate persons actually manage to find a fulfilling career in life. They enjoy their work, and getting up to go to work isn't a challenge for them. Most of us aren't so fortunate. Most of the jobs needing to be done in the world are not the kind that bring fulfillment, and we who have them must simply put up with the daily grind of getting them done.

Love can be very fulfilling in life, but love requires two people, and therefore at least half of the equation is out of one's hands. If an opportunity to love comes up, I strongly recommend not passing it by casually. On the otherhand, I highly recommend observing the other person and the situation closely. Sometimes what looks like love is only dependency, and all sorts of terrors can await those who pursue love blindly. Love is wonderful, but like a fulfilling career, it too is very rare.

Volunteerism can be highly fulfilling. When one finds a cause or effort that one wholely embraces and supports, and can lend one's energy and/or talents to it, putting up with the vicissitudes of ones daily grind can become worth the effort. It is important to know oneself first, so that a person can find the cause or effort that falls in line with one's own values. Also, one must have some flexibility in dealing with others, ranging from flaky volunteers to hardcore true believers.

Hobbies are an excellent way to funnel one's energy into engaging effort. It is especially easy when one chooses a hobby, to find a task with scalable challenges. In other words, as one improves in a given hobby, one can choose increasingly difficult challenges to pursue in it. E.g., if you've manages to embroider a particular design, the next design you choose to embroider can be more complex and therefore more challenging and engaging.

*I'm sure there are more, but these are the four that come to mind right now.

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