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Holden_Caulfield's avatar

What is your definition of "Fulfillment"?

Asked by Holden_Caulfield (1139points) February 6th, 2010

On the surface, fulfillment can mean many different things to many differet people… It seems like an easy question to answer, but given some deep thought, is not. What does “Fulfillment” mean? Is it a matter of what fulfills YOU? Or is it a matter of how you fulfill others? Can we actually be 100% fulfilled? If so, what does it take and what is it that fulfills us?!?

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14 Answers

The_Idler's avatar

Absence of desire.

For most, this mean satiation, but for some, fulfilment is achieved by other means of eliminating desire.

If I remember correctly, this is the Buddhist ideal of Nirvana
mind over matter,
so fulfilment, without satiation?

shadling21's avatar

Well said.

For myself, it is maybe not absence of desire, as @The_Idler has said, and maybe not satiation (because that could be taken way too far), but somewhere in between. It’s looking at what I have and feeling pleased. It’s striving for more, but never expecting too much. It’s finding those things that make me feel whole and working to keep them. And letting go of them if I have to. It requires balance.

I’m sure that letting go of desires is wonderful, but I could never do it.

The_Idler's avatar

I think the depth of fulfilment is often related to how meaningful the means are interpreted to be. So an accompanying sense of achievement really accentuates the sense of fulfilment.

So if you want a house, building it by hand, with the help of your friends, would be far more fulfilling than just buying one or winning one.

Although the ends are same, the means change the nature of the fulfilment. Gaining pride and a sense of personal growth from the experiences, beyond simple target-meeting, are what determine the degree to which someone will be fulfilled, as a person.

marinelife's avatar

Fulfillment is getting someone’s order shipped to them.

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

Looking forward to each day.

Having a home that feels like ease to be in.

Reciprocal love.

slick44's avatar

To me Fullfillment is when“at that time in my life,day or situation, I want for nothing. Thus being Fullfilled.

gailcalled's avatar

Fulfillment for me is cutting more than one of Milo’s nails at a time. So far, no luck.

onesecondregrets's avatar

Anything that is not my life.

Harp's avatar

I don’t see fulfillment as an additive process. The word seems to imply that we’re lacking, like half-filled vessels, and need to find that missing something or other to top us off and make us feel complete. But I don’t think it works that way.

What drives desire is the belief that what will complete us will come from the outside. But there’s no end to this. As much as you throw at your desires, it’s never enough. You think you’re lacking X, but if and when when you acquire X you discover that you still feel a lack. So you either try to acquire more of X or become disenchanted with X and decide that Y would do the trick. Fulfillment from the outside is impossible.

The way I see it, “fulfillment” is a subtractive process. It comes from a shedding of ideas, especially ideas and judgments about who we are. I don’t mean replacing our lacking self-image with a new, improved self-image. The answer isn’t to psych yourself into believing that you’re complete; that kind of mind game can’t hold up over time. What works is to disengage from the whole stupid business of defining and evaluating yourself. It’s not easy, but when you can finally just let those self-concerns fall away from time to time—just forget about them—then the desires that accompany them like a shadow also fade.

You can’t will away desire. You have to first address the self-concern, and the problem of desire will take care of itself.

@gailcalled The only way we can get our cat’s nails cut is to have the vet do it. As long as she’s in her element, it’s impossible. She’s so overwhelmed at the vet’s that she just closes her eyes and submits.

Cruiser's avatar

Doing something that no amount of money or item of trade value could compensate you for that experience.

gailcalled's avatar

@Harp; I had been hauling poor, carsick Milo to the local Humane Society once a month until the snows hit. At mile 13 of the 14 mile trip, he barfs in his carrier. So I thought I could out-wit him at home until spring. No dice. I appear to be a slow learner. Even the bribes with organic mozzarella cheese have failed.

liminal's avatar

@Harp do you think desire is always problematic?

Harp's avatar

@liminal That’s an excellent question. Desire is a problem when it is in the service of self. As long as I am trapped in the conviction that this little person in this bag of skin is the full extent of who I am, then my desires will revolve around improving the lot of this little person. I’ll be constantly looking for what I can bring into my life that might make me happier. None of it will work for long because the whole scheme is based on a faulty assumption. That’s a problem.

But if I’m able to wean attention away from the constant maintenance of that little self, gradually paying it less and less attention until it finally just recedes into the background, then the conditions are created for a radical discovery. The rest of the world, all that had seemed to be outside of the self and so of only indirect concern to me, may reveal itself to be as much “me” as this silly carcass is.

If that happens, then what had been my desires become transformed right along with that shift in view. They become compassion instead of desire, a longing for the welfare of the world. Compassion is none other than desire that has been unchained from service to the self.

liminal's avatar

@Harp Wonderful thoughts! Weaning away from that little self can be quite, um, (for my lack of a better word) interesting. I definitely feel like a tiny seedling when it comes to the realization you speak of. I wanted to hear your thoughts on desire because I’ve spent lots of time pondering it and am intrigued by others thoughts.

When it comes to the notion of fulfillment I find myself turning to my experience of contentment, passion and desire. Being comfortable with desire has always been difficult for me. In my life, I have been surrounded by the message that desires are selfish and lead to destruction. I have had experiences with desire that make them seem beyond control. I came to realize that I limited desire to “longing for that which may or may not be attained”, treated it (as Harp described fulfillment), as an additive process. With time, desire has come to be, for me, the restless face of passion. In my experience, living from passion, instead of desire, has been the result of how Harp described compassion “none other than desire that has been unchained from service to the self.”

I find it is my false sense of self that tangles desire into being something that can be satisfied with finite things and that the continual grasping for satisfaction with the finite leads to destruction. Wendy Farley suggests, “When desire begins to thirst for more than the world can directly offer it does not have to leave or reject the world; it simply goes in more deeply.” (Farley, the Wounding and Healing of Desire, 13) When I allow desire to point to the truth of who I am (who I’ve always been and will be) I find I live out of contented passion and the idea of being fulfilled becomes an illusionary discourse I am no longer interested in. Passion flourishes in my work, in how I view the world with all its brokenness and wonder, and in my relationships. Living in such a thriving way is both painful and beautiful. I feel the heartaches of a suffering world more fully and the urgency for it to be healed more deeply. My disappointments become more poignant, yet so does my joy. My dance with desire has become a contented rhythm that allows me to discover my truest self.

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