Monday, October 11

What Fills Your Life?

This is a true story.

A year and a half ago, my friend A had a miscarriage. After listening to her story, I said: “I don’t want to make you feel any worse. But you do know that you lost your baby because you were stressing yourself with anger; anger at your bosses for not supporting your move to and promotion in another division, right?”

And she started crying. In between sobs, she said: “Thank you. For aside from my mom, you’re the only person who recognized the connection between my anger and my miscarriage. You don’t know how good it feels to be understood.”

Fast forward to last week. A surprised me when she asked the trainer: “What’s next? What if I feel so happy and contented now?”


After the miscarriage and the lost promotion opportunity, A once again conceived and, this time, successfully gave birth. She’s still in customer service with the same boss and still wanting to get a more challenging job. So, what changed?

Here’s what. A almost lost her life after giving birth. As she explained, “I am just happy being alive! What they say is true. We tend to appreciate the things we take for granted when they are (almost) taken away from us. I had such a scare at the thought that, in death, I will lose my family!”

Still, something was not quite right to me so I had to ask, “If you’re really so happy and contented, why even ask for what is next? Why not just revel in the moment and wish that the moment never end?”

And she answered, “Because I want to know if I am missing something while I am in this happy and contented state.”

Another "Huh?!"

Moral of the story: “knowing what will fill your life" is probably the trickiest of all the ingredients in having a fulfilled life. Why? As A’s story seem to show, it may be because there is no one thing that will fully fill your life. Maybe it is a combination of things over a continuum of time. Maybe we get to know “what’s missing” after we go through life’s experiences. Maybe it’s trial and error. Maybe Maslow* is head on.

Remember our analogy on how a "fulfilled life is like a full stomach"? How the need to fill our hungry stomachs is just like the need to fill our hungry lives? Maslow said that we will experience perfect moments; moments when a need is filled. However, needs change. And, being the intelligent and full-of-possibility human beings that we are, there is a need that we will never fill. And this is the need to fully satisfy our potential – you know, the “I can be this … I can be that … I must be this … I must be that … I will be this … I will be that,” kind of thing. Yes, man is such an insatiable being!

Wait a sec though. Does this mean then that we are just wasting time, me writing and you reading this blog since it seems impossible that we will ever experience having a fulfilled life at all?

On the contrary, this is the reason why I will continue to write and, hopefully, you will continue to read. For Sam’s second ingredient for a fulfilled life is: knowing when to stop!

* Want to know more about Maslow?


Better Man said...

Great post.I don't think reading this is a waste of time. To have a fulfilled life can be obtain in some many ways and each person needs to search it for themself. With writing this blog, you never know how each person will react to it. Maybe someone could have had a similar experience and it maybe the thing they needed to find fulfillment in their life or this post might help someone just get on the right track.

It took the death of my dad to find fulfillment in my marriage and made me realise what is more important in my life.

SAM said...

Thanks, BM. The irony is, after writing my post, I got to thinking. And my realization (acceptance really) is that one has to feel happy and content to be able to say that he/she has a fulfilled life. I used to think otherwise. Not to gloat, I have been much luckier than most. I live comfortably. I've experienced love twice when some never get to experience love at all. I feel that it's ok to die tomorrow as I am confident that I've made my mark on this earth, this life already.

In other words, I've lived a full (not wasted) life. In fact, sometimes I think death is a good idea because I'm burnt out. And maybe this is what's stopping me from saying I've a fulfilled life. It's because I think that I am not able to enjoy life the way I want to. And that's why the next ingredients are important. I know what will fulfill my life. Now I need to get them into place :-)

Jodie-Ann said...

Awesome post. Thanks for posting it. :) It made me think.

SAM said...

Thanks for checking it out. Don't think too much. Right now, just enjoy life. You'll have more than enough time to think later. At best, I just wanted to welcome you to the world of psychology. Keep Maslow in mind. You're sure to hear that name again.