In each of us lies potential – for good and bad. You are a unique individual with your own qualities and liabilities – some inherited, some mutated and uniquely yours; some from the luck and randomness of life; some from your experiences, the choices you have made and how you were transformed by them.
Each of us, made of light and shadow, has great potential for good. Simply being human, we are social beings with the ability and need to connect with one another, to engage our passions and talents to help others – family, friends, neighbours, strangers in need, our community and society.
The greatest tragedy is the call unanswered: the opportunity to do something heroic, loving and kind that we let slip by, the day we fail to seize, extraordinary potential unrealized. This is the greatest tragedy yet it is also the norm. Every day is everyday; life remains dull, mundane and ordinary, and we remain unfulfilled.
What does it mean to feel fulfilled? Is it simply being satisfied – having enough money and possessions, enough entertainment, enough food to fill our bellies? Is it when we get everything we want? When all is perfect?
Fulfillment, and the happiness that comes with it, is not a destination at which we finally arrive – the award, the graduation, the perfect relationship, the wedding, the perfect job, retirement; that’s not the purpose of the journey. It’s not a place where we get everything we’ve wished for or when all is perfect. There is no such place, and life will never be perfect at least from our usual perspective.
Last year, we witnessed the spectacle of the Olympics and the incredible performances of the world’s greatest athletes. Is fulfillment winning a gold medal? Or is it the achievement of your personal potential and wherever that may take you?
Fulfillment can be found every day in the journey itself, in being and becoming: being engaged in the gifts of the present day, exercising your unique abilities, connecting with others and the world, and walking the path that is right for you.
It is the path of mastery, and the learning never stops.
We expect our children to grow and learn as they attend school. As grownups, we sometimes forget that we are still learners and still on the path. Are you on the right path? Are you feeling fulfilled in your everyday life?
Though most of us no longer hope to become Olympians, we should each ask ourselves, “Am I achieving my potential in life? Can my body be stronger or faster? Can I be happier? Am I doing enough for others? Am I answering my calling?”
What do I need to learn? What do I need to work on?
Last weekend, while working on math homework with my daughter, it was obvious to me what she needed to review but it wasn’t to her. When my son started his first week of university, I felt I should remind him that even though it seemed like he didn’t have any homework to do, he definitely did.
Grownups fall into a similar trap. We think we no longer have anything to learn nor homework to do. We are oblivious to our blind spots.
To get back on the path, we sometimes have to listen to life (What challenges keep coming up for me?), listen to our hearts (What feelings do I need to resolve?), connect with others (Ask your good friends and family what you need to work on), reflect and act (Return to the path of challenge, learning and personal growth).
There is daily homework on the path of personal fulfillment. It is challenging to push yourself to overcome obstacles, pursue your dreams, engage your talents, and achieve your potential to meet the needs of the world.
It is work that only you can do. The alternative is the easy but frustrated life of the ordinary, unhappy and unfulfilled.
Since February 1st, I’ve been sharing the insights I’ve learned from my patients, friends and family in “A Hundred Days to Happiness.” Each day, I will post one new insight on facebook.com/davidicus.wong, twitter.com/DrDavidicusWong and my blog at davidicuswong.wordpress.com.