I remember the first time it occurred to me about fifteen years ago. I was pulling out of my driveway when I was suddenly overcome with the thought that struck me: I am the happiest man on earth. I literally could not image anyone being any happier than I was at that moment. As tears welled up in my eyes, I wanted to go find the nearest radio station and broadcast to the world just how happy I was. What was the big event that made me so happy?

There wasn’t one. When I look back, I remember that we didn’t have much money. We were renting a very humble and old home that many would consider shoddy. We had a one eight-year-old car that was nothing fancy. Not everything was going my way in life either.

But I had just been thinking about what I did have. I had a wonderful wife, two boys at the time, I attended a great church and had an income—though meager. But many people had that. In fact, there were hundreds of thousands of people who had way more than I did and still weren’t happy. Why was I (and still am) so “happy”?

What I was actually experiencing was fulfillment. We use the word “happiness” in place of fulfillment many times because the question, “what will make me happy?” is so prevalent in our society. Happiness is merely a mental state that can fluctuate on a second’s notice. What’s ironic is that those who do seek happiness rarely find it, and if they do, it’s only temporal. Most often, people who think they’re seeking happiness are actually seeking fulfillment. If this is you, here are three ways you can obtain true fulfillment:

How to Experience Fulfillment

  1. Start with your most important relationship: God. This is by far the most powerful of the three. True fulfillment can only come from God. God does not pass out penny happiness, he would rather give joy (fulfillment) that is more valuable than gold. Happiness is as volatile as the weather, but His fulfillment runs so deep that it’s not affected by exterior affairs. Once you’ve experienced this, the pursuit of happiness fades into oblivion. Start with daily prayer and let His joy take root.
  2. Be thankful for what you have.
    a) Write it down. I challenge you to take a few minutes to write down everything that stands out in your life. Put all the bad things on the left side of the page and put the good things on right side. You will probably have lots of room left over on the “bad” side and if you do it thoroughly, you will run out of room on the “good” side. No matter how bad your “bad” is, it will always be outweighed by the the good. So make the good things in your life the biggest things in your life.
    b) Say it. Thank those who are responsible for those good things. If you have a spouse, thank your in-laws for them (writing this prompted me to do just that). If you have a job, thank your boss for it. And every good thing you have, you can thank God for because every good thing comes from Him. (James 1:17) If you make yourself do this, it alone will change you.
  3. Be content. Contentment is not to be confused with being satisfied with less than what you are supposed be or do. That is laziness. Contentment is taking circumstances that are out of your control and refusing to let them dictate your internal quality of life. But instead, resolving to thrive in spite of them. My wife, Tishauna, is a great example of contentment. She has never been a complainer. Yes, life happens. But as it happens, she has learned to “turn lemons into lemonade.” Although I still haven’t been able to give her everything I had hoped by this point (hang in there, Baby), she is one of the most delightful people you could ever be around and her contentment is genuine.

Don’t get me wrong, there are still goals in my own life that, when they come to fruition, will only give me more fulfillment. So I haven’t crossed some finish line. But that’s not what a fulfilling life is. It is a road rather than a destination.

Be honest with yourself. Do you feel you have true fulfillment as you’re living life? If so, you know that there is nothing like it that compares. If not, what is missing? It’s not the “toys” and it’s not new relationships that will bring it. Being thankful for the positive and getting past the negative is a great start, and you may even find some sense of fulfillment just by doing that alone. But you will never find satisfaction until you connect yourself with the creator of true fulfillment.

“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33)

You can have ultimate fulfillment. Do you have it?