In 2015 Pixar released Inside Out, the story of how emotions guided an 11-year-old girl through life turmoils. The emotions that ruled her mind included anger, disgust, fear, sadness, and joy. Up until the family had to relocate, her life had been ruled by joy with intermittent blips of other feelings.
Suddenly, she had more and more sadness on board. Joy had to accept that the girl’s life would be less about simple happiness. Her life would become more complex, with more sadness and other feelings contributing to her memories.
Many people find themselves dissatisfied, and they conclude that they need happiness. While happiness coaching exists, it often focuses on living in the present. Memories of the past and worries about the future can prevent one from enjoying the here and now.
Is that good enough for what ails you?
I often find that adult dissatisfaction reveals a lack of fulfillment, a far more complex feeling than happiness. Fulfillment often requires more effort and disappointment than achieving happiness. You have to identify why you do not feel fulfilled. That requires harvesting memories for the problem(s), as well as identifying solutions, including potential pitfalls.
For example, I feel happy when I shop for shoes. Looking at new designs and colors, imagining them on my feet, and trying them on all give me a glowing warm feeling; however, I would rarely describe this activity as fulfilling. Researching new things, writing articles, and otherwise trying to accomplish stuff often requires frustration, effort, and even sadness if my work is rejected. Getting through these negative emotions and completing the task grants that feeling of fulfillment. I overcame the obstacles and made it happen!
It is also interesting that usage of “happiness” has fallen over time, while fulfillment has increased:
I prefer to focus on what people need for fulfillment. While a more complex task than finding joy, it usually lasts longer.
Although there are still those days where I just have to look at shoes…