The loss of fulfillment:
As young children, most of us are happy the majority of the time. As adults, most of us aren’t. So what happened to us? Why aren’t we content anymore? Quite simply, we have learned many concepts about what is “perfect”. Our concept of “perfect” can also be referred to as our ideas of the “right” way, how we think things “should be”, and what we think is “best”, “good”, “cool”, or “appropriate”. We were taught these concepts both formally and informally by our parents, teachers, and friends; we absorbed them from TV, movies, and collective societal views; they are shaped by our memories of pleasure, genetics, and all of our experiences in life.
The concepts we learned made us believe ourselves and our life aren’t good enough
When we were young children (under six years old), before we learned most of our concepts of what is “perfect”, we had nothing to compare our life against. Without a concept of “perfect” to compare things against, we rarely decided that any aspect of ourselves, others, or our situation was “bad” or “not good enough”. Everything was just what it was. Without these thoughts about what isn’t “good enough” in our life, we felt free, whole, and happy.
As we developed more and more of our concepts of what is “perfect” over the years, we began to increasingly compare everything in our life to these concepts. Naturally, life has come up short quite a bit, and we frequently ended up labeling things in our lives—actions, words, events, situations, feelings, personality traits, physical appearances—as “bad” or “not good enough”.
Our thoughts create all of our unhappiness and unwanted emotions
As soon as a thought pops up in our mind that decides “something isn’t good enough”, we begin to experience a subtle sense of sadness or lack, as if something is missing from our lives. If we look to blame someone for some “bad” aspect of our life, then we experience anger towards whoever we believe is to blame.
We mistakenly blame our unhappiness on our circumstances
Instead of realizing that our feelings of sadness, deficiency, or anger are created by our thoughts, we believe that these emotions are directly created by our circumstances being factually “bad” or “not good enough”. This misunderstanding causes us to try to change our circumstances from being “not good enough” to being “perfect” in order to become happy. This is how our pursuit of happiness gets started. We don’t recognize that this is really just an attempt to change our thoughts about our circumstances from “this isn’t good enough” to “this is perfect”.
We look to make our life “perfect” to become happy… but that just leads to a lot of suffering
Once we believe that the “perfect” circumstances would make us happiest, we unconsciously conclude that failure to achieve the “perfect” circumstances would result in suffering, or at least less happiness. This possible result is then labeled to be a “bad” or “worse” outcome. As soon as we have formed the idea of a “bad” or “worse” outcome, we begin to fear that outcome. That is the cause of our anxiety and stress.
Let me give you an example of how this plays out. When we are young children, if we live in a small apartment, we generally wouldn’t feel ashamed about it, we wouldn’t feel embarrassed about it, and we wouldn’t worry about getting a bigger apartment. However, once we are adults, if we live in a small apartment, we are likely to think our apartment isn’t “good enough”, thereby making us sad or embarrassed about the apartment we live in. Because we believe our sadness or embarrassment is created directly by our situation (the apartment), not by our thoughts, we are likely to spend a great deal of time and money trying to get the “perfect” house or apartment in order to make ourselves happy. If we think the “perfect” house will make us happy, then we tend to think that it would be “bad” if we didn’t get it. This concept then creates our fear and anxiety that we will never get the “perfect” house in the future.
All the while, we don’t recognize that it’s just our thoughts about the situation that’s creating our sense of insufficiency, shame, and anxiety.
How to be fulfilled again
Once we recognize that it’s our thoughts that are creating our suffering, that it’s our thoughts that are constantly making us work to change ourselves, others, and our situation… then maybe we can take a step back and begin to focus on the actual cause of our unhappiness.
Thank you for reading/watching this post. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.