In Pursuit of…

Half empty or?

Half empty or?

Friday night I was on the couch watching Bill Maher–nothing unusual, I’m always watching him at that time, though I confess I often fall asleep before the end, and watch the rest in reruns later in the week.  Hey the weeks are long, and it’s my night to have a beer, I get sleepy.  In any case the interview was with two of the members of Pussy Riot, that kept me awake.  Brave women.

Then it was on to the panel discussion, and something something happy/happiness, and Ana Marie Cox (political columnist, commentator, and founding editor of the blog Wonkette) said no, she wants fulfillment, not happiness.  Maher said he wants to be happy, not just fulfilled.  I’m not sure I heard much else past that, I’ve been thinking about it ever since.   With the most cursory of research, using my buddy Google, I found this is not a new idea.  It seems like the current definitions involve fulfillment being more of a long term state of being, satisfaction, and happiness being short term, connected to a finite thing, experience, or emotion.

Makes sense to me.  We all know the studies, hear the platitudes, no one thing or person will make us happy.  As in permanent state of being happy.  I believe this.  On the flip side, I believe one thing (or lack thereof) or person can result in sustained unhappiness.  Unemployment, hunger, poverty, homelessness, a miserable marriage, these things can create long term unhappiness until and unless they change.

Tears of a Clown

Tears of a Clown (Photo credit: daybeezho)

The thing is, I also don’t think any of these achievements, relationships, resources, or experiences can provide permanent fulfillment.  We have to continue reaching out, working, experiencing, connecting.  When my children were young, I felt fulfilled.  There were still things I wanted, experiences I wanted and thought were coming, but overall, I was satisfied with life at that time.  Time passes, children grow, life happens, and I’m not so satisfied with where I am now, but I have no desire to go backwards, nor do I wish things had stayed the way they were.  The sometimes silly chaos of babies and nursing and giggles and every moment a discovery and but why and pleasefortheloveofGodgotosleep is not a state I’d want to live in forever.

Yeah, I’m in pursuit.  Of fulfillment, happiness, rainbows, I don’t know.  But I’m in pursuit.  Are you?

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20 comments

  1. Thunder Road is my absolute favorite Bruce Springsteen song! Somehow, I’ve never heard that version (and he’s never done it the times I’ve seen him in concert, dang. Though he has done Jersey Girl and Rosalita).

    I think, while I enjoy being happy, there’s quite a lot of overlap in my mind between happiness and fulfillment. Satisfaction too. I think feelings of pride and satisfaction are more likely to come from fulfillment than happiness.

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    1. I’m not a devoted Bruce fan, but there’s no denying he is incredibly talented, and some of his songs are absolutely perfect. 🙂

      An interesting thing to think about, the intersection of fulfillment and happiness. Thanks for weighing in, Jen!

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      1. It’s cool, not everybody totally loves Bruce. But I weathered high school being unashamed of it (he was Less Cool to the kids in the ’90’s) and am happy and proud to declare my Springsteen affections.

        It’s a neat topic, and I think the kind of question worth asking once in awhile.

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        1. lol, I’m a little 😉 older than you–Husband will say it’s sacrilege that I don’t worship at the alter of Bruce. :p

          I’m glad you liked the post, I agree, it’s important to explore these questions every so often. The beauty of the internet is that we can with people who have a broad range of experiences to draw from.

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          1. On the Internet, we’re all as old or young as we need to be 😉

            But yes, I agree. There’s so much information here, so much shared experience. The Internet is, in a way, becoming our cultural memory. Both terrifying and awesome at the same time, isn’t it?

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  2. I don’t think I’m fulfilled yet, although many things in my life have contributed a sense of fulfillment–my kids, my friends and family. The reach for personal fulfillment, though, the certainty that it’s there, just around the corner…I find, rather than resulting in disappointment because I haven’t quite achieved it, keeps me happily striving. Or maybe I’m just deluded. In which case, I’m happily deluded.

    Except when I look at that clown. I think I may have…unhappy, delusional dreams involving her. *shivers*

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    1. I think that, more than anything, demonstrates you are a glass half full gal.

      Me, I’m striving, but not happy about how far I still feel I am.
      (sorry for the clown, but she worked for the post) 😉

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  3. What a thought-provoking post! I do think you can have moments of happiness during difficult times like unemployment, or even poverty! When I went to the Dominican, there was a lot of poverty but also lots of love, laughing and happiness – more than in North America, come to think of it. ❤
    Diana xo

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    1. Thanks Diana. Yes, I believe you can have–and have had–moments of happiness, pleasure, during difficult times, but fulfillment? No, it is something different, something enduring.

      xoxo

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