I recently listened to a meditation focused on bringing fulfillment closer to my life. Which of course caused me to ask myself, “Am I fulfilled?” That is a really big question!
There was one point in my life where I wrote a piece on how I was living my purpose. At that time, I truly felt like I had it all; a job that I loved, three healthy, smart, and responsible teenagers; a husband that was my partner and friend in life; a supportive group of family and friends; and a beautiful home that my husband and I had designed and created for our family. The piece that I wrote was long and detailed – how I felt inspired by those in my life – my family, friends, and my students – to live my best life. At that time in my life I knew I was living my purpose.
And then in a matter of weeks, my husband told me that he no longer wanted to be married. After many rounds of counseling and months of trying to make our marriage work, he left. In the course of our divorce, we sold the beautiful home, I left my job for a higher paying position, and my children began to deal with the grief that comes with divorce.
So one moment I felt fulfillment and then pretty quickly it seemed to all disappear. But did it really? I started to really think about this. Where does that sense of fulfillment really come from? In defining fulfillment, I have looked at five key areas that I believe help me feel happiness and fulfillment.
Bringing Fulfillment Closer to My Life
A sense of purpose. It is easy to understand that my sense of purpose quickly changed while I was dealing with a divorce. My purpose during the divorce proceedings was focusing on seeing that my children would continue to be healthy and whole. That meant keeping their lives as stable as possible and connected to both parents. My purpose for my self was simply survival. This included focusing on self-care and surrounding myself with those that I could trust. Yes, my sense of purpose took a huge turn during my divorce, but it never disappeared – it simply shifted based on my new priorities. Post divorce, I feel as though my purpose has moved back towards teaching and inspiring others to be their best – both in the classroom and with this blog.
Have an attitude of gratitude. While I felt that I had lost it all – I knew, even in my darkest hours that I had not lost it all. I lost my marriage, with my marriage I lost a love I counted on, stability, financial security, a co-parent to discuss the kids’ lives and doings (raising teenagers is hard!), and I lost our home. During this time, I purposefully focused on what I had. I had great friends and family. I had brains and knew how to work hard. I had a roof over my head and the means to keep it. I had three fantastic children that needed their mother to hold it together. Maintaining an attitude of gratitude saved me from falling down the pity hole.
Live in the moment. Losing my sister 30 years ago in a tragic accident taught me to appreciate the time we have and to live life in the moment. Divorce cemented that viewpoint for me. I would say that while I am not always successful with this – yes, stress can get the best of me, I try to keep it all in perspective and take the time to notice the beauty in the world around me. I try to prioritize time with friends and family as well as taking time for myself.
Spend time in nature. During my divorce I began hiking. Spending time in nature helped me connect with a higher power. When you trek to the top of a mountain and soak in the endless view of mountains stacked behind mountains, you can quickly be humbled by the pure majesty of nature. Our problems become trivialized when we realize just how big this world is. Spending time in nature feeds my soul. I admit, divorce brought this need to hike into my life, and for that I am thankful. Life is busy and making a point to spend time in nature can be hard. I have come to understand just how important surrounding myself in nature is to my well being. Surrounding myself in nature has moved up the priority ladder in my life.
Grow as a person. Divorce forced me to grow in many new ways! I have always been a person that values learning; I was actually in school finishing up my Masters of Education when my ex first told me that he no longer wanted to be married. But I can say that divorce after a twenty year marriage really pushed me far out of my comfort zone and forced me to learn all kinds of new things! I had to learn to fully support myself, manage a home on my own, and eventually how to date. Post divorce I have grown in many unexpected ways as I have challenged myself to train and complete two Half Ironmans, swim from Alcatraz, and create this blog. Challenging myself and growing as a human being helps me feel fulfilled.
Mediating on the idea of bringing fulfillment closer to my life had me reflecting on the different periods of my life. Having had a point in my life where I really felt as though I was living my purpose and feeling as though I had it all – to only discover a few short weeks later that my husband of twenty years felt completely different, shook me in many ways. The divorce, yes rocked my world completely off its axis, but the thought that we were so very misaligned in our mutual perspectives on our marriage, love, family, and partnership had me questioning everything that I believed about myself.
I have come to realize that bringing fulfillment closer to my life is a about what I can do for myself. We cannot bring happiness and fulfillment to another person. Yes, we can bring moments of happiness to someone, but the sense of fulfillment goes much deeper and has to come from our own inner workings.
I have also come to understand that even when my life got knocked off its axis, a sense of fulfillment never really left me. I dealt with a lot of sadness and grief, but by defining my purpose, keeping an attitude of gratitude, living in the moment, spending time in nature, and by accepting the challenges before me I was able to keep moving in the right direction. To me, creating a beautiful life is about bringing fulfillment closer to our lives.
How do you bring fulfillment closer to your life?