I am often asked the question: If we can decide to be happy in the present moment, then why must we focus anything on the bigger-picture? This is an important question that attacks the logic behind why bigger-picture thinking is necessary.

For the difference between “Big” and “Bigger” picture thinking, click HERE!

The Philosophy of Fulfillment

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, likely related to varying levels of human happiness.
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, likely related to varying levels of human happiness.

Ultimately, and philosophically, we can describe the problem based on its relative assumptions. For example, one way to answer the question may be to entertain the idea that happiness can be experienced on different levels. Doing so would ensure that bigger-picture thinking is necessary for experiencing the most happiness over time.

Arguably, we could relate the levels of happiness to the various levels of actualization on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. However, I argue that the basics behind happiness and true human fulfillment are different, as I will now explain.

Happiness is experienced along the way. It is the ability for a person to think in terms of the benefit of one’s actions, and not the negatives behind consequences. Fulfillment, on the other hand, is a result of the dedicated and directed work that one relates to a sense of higher purpose.

Ultimately, I believe that the difference lies in the ability for us to be happy now, but happy and fulfilled later. Considering the main point of contention between happiness and fulfillment is whether there is a sense of purpose behind your actions, we can reason that both can occur simultaneously.

Simply put, if you are happy then you may not be fulfilled, but if you are fulfilled, then you are likely happy as well.

New Questions

This begs the question: When should we focus on fulfillment, and when should we focus on happiness? The answer may be more simple than you think!

Because fulfillment is a function of purpose, and because happiness is a function of the present, we can reason that you should focus on happiness (within the inherent benefits of your present situation) whenever you are faced with adversity.

Otherwise, fulfillment should be your main focus because it often presents happiness through the achievement of purpose, but also long term satisfaction with life and your own self-actualization!

In laymen’s terms, happiness should be the goal when faced with a difficult situation. You can practice happiness by practicing gratitude for all the good you have in life in the present moment.

For example, should I come across a difficult situation within my business, I like to take out a specific journal I keep that is full of all the good that I can see around me every day despite the current troubles that I face. Doing so, and adding to the good points, places the focus I have into that of positivity, allowing me a better mindset with which to face my troubles.

Keeping a "My Mission" journal is a surefire way to increase the likelihood that you take fulfilling actions. This increases your ability to succeed both personally and within your organization!
Keeping a “My Mission” journal is a surefire way to increase the likelihood that you take fulfilling actions. This increases your ability to succeed both personally and within your organization!

Focusing on fulfillment means taking action towards a higher purpose that you believe in. Write this purpose down and review it every day.

My Purpose

For example, I will list the purpose through which I take many actions here!

“I have started a company (Denison Success Systems LLC) in the hopes of making a difference in the lives of others! The purpose of my company is to create a world in which people do not need to live in fear of change, and to cultivate positivity and fulfillment in those who desperately need it. I believe that by accomplishing these things I can create a more richly positive world for all people, one in which we work together for the benefit of our neighbors and not for the greed within ourselves.”

As you can see, this higher purpose gives me a reason to continue doing what I am doing and to measure all the actions I take towards a concrete mindset. Doing so is very fulfilling to me.

Happiness can be had at every moment. Fulfillment comes about by pursuing a direction in life. Make sure this direction is beneficial to you and your health, and it will likely be fulfilling. For more on what I call “Conscious Direction” check out the blog post HERE!

Self-actualization is needed for fulfillment to occur. I have also been asked the question as to whether I believe that a person can be fully actualized, the answer comes from the definition of actualization. Maslows’ definition of self-actualization (which is at the top of the pyramid of needs) seems like a utopia, something I think is actually unrealistic.

I think that actualization can be had through constant and unending improvement. Tony Robbins calls this “CANI”. He mentions that only through this sense of constant improvement can we actualize to a higher degree. I ultimately agree very much with Tony Robbins in this sense.

The Law of Diminishing Skill

I believe that human achievement is based on our ability to refuse the path of least resistance (POLR). I believe that there is a concept that is consistent with human nature in the same way it is in business. That concept is the point of diminishing returns.

In human nature, I believe the related concept is the point of diminishing skill. It is the concept that, at a certain point, the energy we pour into improvement tapers off, and we become only marginally better for the mass amounts of energy expended. Here is a photo regarding my point.

The path of least resistance (POLR) is at the base of the human hierarchy of needs. Past the "average" is the point of diminishing skills! Those who wish to constantly improve are willing to give whatever it takes to reach that extra 1%!
The path of least resistance (POLR) is at the base of the human hierarchy of needs. Past the “average” is the point of diminishing skills! Those who wish to constantly improve are willing to give whatever it takes to reach that extra 1%!

Humans are special in the sense that we can choose to be actualized to any degree. We don’t simply fall for the path of least resistance, in which case we would all be living in small huts and consistently hunting for food. We realize the benefits of hard work now and a better outcome later.

The people who become truly exceptional are those who consistently expend the energy necessary to improve beyond others, to be better than the mere average, and become leaders in their respective fields! All people can do this, should they find a purpose and direction motivating enough to incur this change in thinking.

That is my goal, to incur these changes in people and organizations across the globe. I wish to help people live happier lives. To not only find but take action upon their skills and interests in order to incur happiness and fulfillment.

It is no secret that people become more devoted and committed workers when they feel their action have a renowned purpose, a purpose necessary for the success of the organizations. Making the purpose clear to yourself, and the individuals in your organization often increases productivity and the commitment to success, not simply compliance with rules and regulations.

Would you feel especially motivated if somebody told you “Do it because I said so.” Or would you feel motivated if somebody told you “This is why you and your job is important, and here is what you can do to contribute to the success of the organization!”.

Many organizations that suffer from underperforming employees often need to simply restate the purpose of the job.

My job is to evaluate the success of businesses, organizations, and people. In doing so, I act as a consultant of sorts. I help the owners of companies and organizations achieve their goals by increasing morale, streamlining processes, and setting proper goals. This is why fulfillment is important and should be the focus of bigger-picture thinking.

Conclusion

Ultimately, I can answer the question “Why should we focus on the bigger picture if we can be happy at any moment?” with the simple phrase: Fulfillment naturally breeds happiness, but happiness does not necessarily breed fulfillment, and they are not the same.

Are you undergoing a struggle in your life right now? Do you feel as though you are getting nowhere, and perhaps that you are afraid of taking action doing anything that makes you afraid in the present moment? You can often remedy these thoughts by considering opportunity costs.

What are the things that you are giving up by doing what you are doing now? Is there any way you would better enjoy spending your precious time and energy? A fulfilling life is a result of having smaller opportunity costs than the cost of your current actions. Put simply, pursue with reverence the things in life that mean the most to you.

Often, we hardly ever regret the things we do, it is the things we don’t do that make us wonder what life could be or could have been.

I encourage everybody to make a list of things you wish your life would consist of, and place more focused time and energy into those areas. We create that which we focus on. And focusing on fulfillment is a recipe for success and happiness to boot.

Check out some more blog posts by clicking HERE!
Check out this awesome article from PsychologyToday about how focusing on fulfillment is beneficial to you! Please click HERE!

Hoping you all the fulfillment in the world,

-Austin Denison