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Happiness Vs fulfilment - what are you seeking?

Updated: Apr 28, 2020

There is a strong emphasis and chase for people to seek happiness in their lives, however contrary to this belief I pose the following - what is happiness without fulfilment? We all know what it’s like to feel happy but have you ever been truly fulfilled?


Seeking happiness isn't wrong, it's just limiting. It is only one part of our life's experience and journey. Seeking fulfilment means you will not only experience happiness but also the rich experience of all other emotions both good and not so good but non the less, a valuable part of life. A moment of happiness can be fleeting, yet experiencing a vast range of emotions adds to our character and helps shapes our values which in return leads to fulfilment. I believe living a life of fulfilment means living a life true to our values.

I do not disagree that we should all seek to feel happy, we certainly should but we must also embrace the idea that happiness is defined by moments of joy and can be quite fleeting whereas fulfilment is a  deeper sense of satisfaction with the direction of your life and the achievement of worthwhile goals.  Happiness is a state of mind whereas fulfilment is a state of being.

Happiness and fulfilment can certainly go hand in hand however the important message to note is that choosing to ‘feel’ happy will not lead to fulfilment, whereas being  fulfilled is a form of happiness, or satisfaction, that is the direct result of fully developing your abilities or character. In other words, fulfilment is when you have reasons to be happy.

So what does fulfilment look and feel like? It’s a tricky question to answer and many people don’t really know what fulfilment means or looks like. A common answer when asked “What does a life of fulfilment mean to you?” is “Living a life of fulfilment means living a life of happiness".

I am not sure about you but I have never had a time when I feel happy all the time, every minute of everyday. That is not reality, we will all experience hardships, uncomfortable emotions and days when we just feel ‘off’. Experiencing these times and feeling these emotions is part of the journey of building our character, our values, beliefs and passions which in turn all lead to the journey of fulfilment.

In a fulfilled life, there is room to embrace all the rich experiences of life including joy, sadness, setbacks, achievements etc.

Before I explore the idea of happiness and fulfilment in my next blog I want to leave you with some statements to reflect on and help you to begin to identity what actions, passions and goals you hold that will lead you in seeking fulfilment.

  • A deep sense of fulfilment is often referred to as being in the “flow state” or “being in the zone” 

  • Fulfilment is when the exhilaration of the activity is so intrinsically motivating that passion for, and commitment to the task is unequivocal  

  • Fulfilment is a journey defined by a deeper sense of satisfaction about the purpose of one’s life

Live a life of meaning and you will soon learn that the pursuit of happiness is a natural outcome.


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