How to Have a Rich and Fulfilling Life by Doing Many Simple, But Possibly Difficult, Things

When you take time to reflect on your life, do you ever feel like something’s missing? That you’re not especially happy or fulfilled, and you’re just going through the motions?

It isn’t that you haven’t achieved anything with your life. In fact, many of the people I work with, and who visit this website, are actually considered “successful” by society’s standards.

They have good careers, homes, families—all of the traditional markers of success—and yet, when they’re alone with their thoughts, this little voice whispers, “Is this all there is?”

Having achieved things can actually make that feeling of dissatisfaction even worse. Some people tell me that they feel like they’re living a lie: that who they appear to be on the outside doesn’t match who they are inside, and they can’t let anyone know. They feel like they have to maintain a façade!

After all the struggling it takes to get anywhere in this world, it’s a rude awakening to discover that you haven’t gotten anywhere that really matters to you.

Good News: You're Not Alone!

It can be lonely feeling this way. You probably feel like an oddball sometimes because so many other people seem to be fine with what seems to you like a pretty humdrum, or even shallow, existence, while you can’t shake the feeling that you’re wasting your life.

You might wonder, “Why can’t I just be happy like everyone else?” And you’ve probably tried new hobbies, relationships, or maybe even careers, all in the hopes of feeling some engagement, meaning, and deep satisfaction with your life.

Well, I’m here to tell you that there isn’t anything wrong with you! Not everyone longs for a meaningful, engaged life because they aren’t alert to their deepest needs and capacities as human beings, which is where that longing comes from.

They just don’t go there—which spares them the kind of discomfort you’re feeling, but also traps them. They’re stuck in a black-and-white Kansas instead of a full-color Oz but, as they say, ignorance is bliss.

Your awareness of the mismatch between the circumstances of your life and your deepest needs and capacities is actually very good news: it means you can do something about it. The rich and fulfilling life you want is possible, even if you think it’s too late for you!

You can feel like there’s a purpose to everything you do, and not like you’re just going through the motions. You can have close, connected relationships with people who truly care about your best interests; people you don’t have to pretend to be someone else around.

You can be so stable and deeply content with your life that the inevitable day-to-day problems you face won’t have the power to throw you off course.

That’s what this website is all about, and I’m about to give you a framework for doing exactly that. It’s grounded in the latest research in psychology, neurobiology, and other life and social sciences, which may sound complicated, but it’s actually very simple.

It May Not Be Easy . . . and It May Be Easier Than You Think

The changes you want to make will, of course, require you to change the way you do some things, which means not following the path of least resistance. When is that ever the best long-term play, anyway?

How do you think you’d turn out if you spent the rest of your life lounging on the couch eating snacks? That full-color Oz isn’t located in your comfort zone, so you’ll have to shake things up.

On the other hand, there’s something called “interdependence” that works in your favor. Interdependence means that each of the four dimensions of your life (psychological, physical, social, and vocational) influence each other. That’s important for a couple of reasons.

For one thing, having so many variables at play means that your path to meaning, satisfaction, and purpose in life is as unique as you. (Which means that the one-size-fits-all approaches promoted by those self-help gurus out there won’t work.) It also means that you have lots of flexibility in your approach.

Right now, the most prominent obstacle to your happiness might be “toxic” people who make your life miserable, a career that you can’t stand, the lasting effects of a traumatic event, or anything else.

But you don’t necessarily need to confront the most prominent obstacle head-on. You can really begin anywhere and take advantage of improvement in one dimension of your life to improve other ones. You can start making small changes and let the rising tide lift all your boats.

Below I give you a quick overview of some big-picture considerations for the four dimensions of your life individually. But it’s just scratching the surface, so don’t stop there. (I'll say more in a minute, but if you click here I’ll give you a special report containing an expanded PDF version of this article along with a list of 12 tips you can start using right now. Plus, I'll give you detailed email guidance . . . and it's all free!)

Psychological Health

You can develop unhealthy habits of mind or behavior, insecurities, and fears in response to events from your past and your current environment. You may even be predisposed to them genetically. The negative emotions they come bundled with can keep you stuck in place—or in a downward spiral—but they don’t need to be permanent.

One of the most common problems my clients face in the psychological realm is taking their thoughts too seriously—especially their negative thoughts about themselves. Sometimes you’re your own worst critic, right?

But thoughts are simply electrochemical events in the brain, and don’t necessarily have any basis in reality. 

In fact, the human brain isn’t very good at telling the whole truth, but you can see it for yourself by dragging your negative thoughts about yourself out into the light and exposing them to critical inspection, much like a defense attorney would cross-examine a witness.

If you take the time to weigh the evidence for and against them, you’ll usually come away with a more nuanced, realistic, and positive conclusion than your first one.

For instance, let’s say you make a mistake and your inner critic starts telling you, “I’m a failure and I’ll never get it right.” Well, those are opinions. Could you gather some facts and restate your thoughts in a more even-handed way?

Perhaps: “I made a mistake today and feel bad about it. However, I actually do things right a lot more of the time, so I know I’m not a failure. In fact, I’m going to learn from this incident and do A, B, and C differently next time, so I’ll be less likely to make this mistake again.”

Sounds better, right? Best of all, it is 100% true.

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Physical Health

The relationship between your physical health and mental health is well-documented. Your state of mind can affect your physical health, and the better you feel physically, the better you’ll feel psychologically. And again, since the different dimensions of your life work together, feeling better about yourself will improve your relationships and work performance, too.

Just covering the basics, like exercising and having a healthy diet, can make a big difference in your sense of well-being. There are also physical activities, like qigong, yoga, and tai chi, that promote the health of your mind and body simultaneously.

Those help to emphasize the connection between the two, which in turn helps you spend less time lost in unpleasant thoughts and more time connected to your actual moment-to-moment experience of life, where you can actually make the changes you want. (I’ll talk about this concept of mindfulness in a moment.)

Social Health

Humans have social needs that are scientifically proven to be hard-wired into our nervous system. At the most basic level, we just need to physically be around other people (that’s why solitary confinement is so awful), but higher levels of well-being require deeper connections with people.

You need to feel that you’re worthy of others’ acknowledgment, concern, and love, and that your needs matter. That you have a base of support, with at least some people, that serves as a safe haven for you when you need a reprieve from your struggles.

You need to feel that other people are attuned to the same part of you that YOU need to be attuned to: that core part, where your deepest human needs and capacities reside.

You do this by practicing healthy communication skills and being more selective about the people you share your life with. Best of all is if you can find and nurture relationships with people who not only support you in your quest for a rich, full-color life, but who are on their own quest, too.

You’re more likely to have fun and stay motivated, and less likely to get lost, if you travel with a partner.

Vocational Health

Sitting around doing nothing isn’t good for us psychologically or physically because humans have a basic need to be occupied with things. But not having things to do is probably the least of your worries! Of all your responsibilities, if you work, your career probably consumes the largest chunk of your waking hours. That’s a big reason why it has such a huge influence on your happiness, sense of meaning and purpose, social health, and even physical health.

It’s important to figure out how you can use your vocation to meet and exercise those deep needs and capacities of yours. Simply collecting a paycheck doesn’t do that. Maybe it would be helpful to make some changes to the way you approach your existing work, so it can be used to support your efforts in other areas of your life.

Or you might benefit from a different job or career altogether—one that resonates better with values or qualities you cherish. That decision tends to cause people a lot of anxiety, so it’s good to take your time with it. Also, to remember that your deepest capacities are like seeds, and if you don’t water them they’ll remain dormant.

Mindfulness

Finally, there is mindfulness: not a dimension of your life like the other four, but a state of mind that has a major influence on your satisfaction with all areas of your life.

Mindfulness is the quality of awareness, curiosity, and acceptance of your unfolding, moment-to-moment experience of life. Most people spend a lot of their lives—more than they realize—lost in negative thoughts about the past or future, or just zoned out with planning or fantasizing.

When you’re oblivious to the present moment in that way, not only can time can slip right through your fingers, but it’s awfully hard to follow through on your decision to do things differently.

You have countless opportunities every day to alter the course of your life in a direction more to your liking, but if you’re not present when they come, you’ll miss them.

The best way to cultivate presence in your life is to practice mindfulness meditation which, by the way, isn’t a New Age-y thing. It’s an ancient practice with a wide variety of scientifically-proven physical and mental health benefits: everything from improvements in stress and blood pressure, mood, and compulsive behaviors, to intangible qualities like empathy and compassion.

(You can also visit the Meditate page on this site and try a guided meditation right now! Well, after you’re done with the article, that is.)

Take Advantage of Guidance

Thanks to those primitive impulses of ours to take the easy route, even when we’re completely dissatisfied with the way things are, we’ll still tend to keep doing the same things, even if they don’t work, because that’s easier and less scary than doing things differently.

Over time, it can start to feel like your trajectory is set in stone, and trying to change is futile. Eventually, you can start to lose hope.

Don’t let that happen!

It’s very helpful to have someone around who can help keep you oriented in the direction you really want to go, and give you the tools and encouragement to actually make progress. And it so happens that doing those things for people is exactly my mission in life.

Just click below and I'll get you started. You'll get instant access to a FREE PDF report containing an expanded version of this article, plus 12 simple tips that can help you start to make the kind of positive changes in your life you’re looking for right this second.

Plus, I'll follow up with an email series that will give you a thorough understanding of everything I summarized here, plus a lot more

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P.S. I’ve just given you a lot of information and, hopefully, inspiration! Now would you do something for me? It would mean a lot to me if you’d leave a comment below telling me one thing in this article that you learned, or gave you hope for a brighter future. Thank you—I love comments!

P.P.S. Please follow me on FacebookTwitterInstagram, and Pinterest, too! 

Jim Hjort, LCSW

Jim operates a psychotherapy practice, helps people overcome roadblocks to self-actualization as a Right Life® coach, and appears at speaking and teaching engagements. He studied Sociology and Abnormal Psychology at UCLA and holds an MSW from USC, with a specialization in Systems of Recovery from Mental Illness. He has also been awarded the Certified Mindfulness Facilitator designation from the UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior. 

Comments

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mrsfrenchpeople@yahoo.com's picture

This is an excellent article. I will try to incorporate this into my life.

Jim Hjort LCSW's picture

Thank you, and I'm glad to hear it. Please check back in with us and let us know how it's going.

A. Craig's picture

Great article, Jim. Thank you! Its exactly what I needed to read. The "mindfulness meditation practice" keeps popping up in my life and I'm starting to get the message! I'm going to use this article as somewhat of a guide to come up with a game plan for some changes I need to make. God bless and thank you for your work!

Jim Hjort LCSW's picture

Thank you, and I'm so glad to hear that you find it helpful. Yes, mindfulness meditation can provide benefits in many areas of life, so it would be a good thing to try out. Please check back in and let us know how it's going for you!

Phil Swynny's picture

Thank you Jim, I read your comments, and found them very worthwhile, and relevant.
I would very much like to hear about your future and ongoing activities.
Kind regards, Phil.

Jim Hjort LCSW's picture

Thank you so much for your comment, Phil; I'm happy that you find the website helpful. I'm sorry for the delayed reply; for some reason your comment and email subscription didn't work its way to me until now. You're subscribed now. Stay tuned, because I'll be making some announcements before year-end!

jerry's picture

very great article

Jim Hjort LCSW's picture

Thank you, Jerry. I'm glad you enjoyed it. Please check back often!

Allen Bender's picture

In order to search for happiness we used to go for several possible factors; we should aware of the term that we can't get happiness in money and those things that we can purchase with the help of money. Happiness is really an essential element and term that we need in our life and we used to keep it forever; we can get happiness from different sources like friends, families, emotions and feelings. It is psychological thinking of human being that we can get happiness from money; but in reality we should get a temporary happiness from money.http://www.reginafasold.com/

Amanda's picture

Reading this made me feel like I wasn't alone in how I was feeling about myself.   I makes me feel like I can achieve this with help. Thank you! 

rightlifeproject's picture

Hi Amanda - So glad to hear that you found the article helpful--and it's definitely possible! Per your request, we'll make sure to put you on the email series list, which can help you get started. Thanks for your feedback!

Carol Johnson's picture

Hello Mr. Hjort. I found your site while looking up, a possible business idea I had for myself, in regards to the start of a business, because I like helping people as well. I did a name search and there you were. I began to read what your site was about, and felt the information fits exactly where I am in my life right now. Mindfulness  and how as you think you vibrate and attract. I felt good as I read your writings feeling that I have learned a lot of what your speaking on, and practicing them everyday.  I feel your insight is expressed in very easy terms of understanding and will definitely help people. I have added my name to your email list, and look forward to reading more of your inspiring words. 

rightlifeproject's picture

Hello Carol - Thanks so much for your kind words. I'm happy that some of the thoughts here are resonating with you, and also that you're already practicing them in your life. You're a great addition to the community, and I look forward to hearing more from you! I hope you enjoy the email list!

Dmitriy's picture

Thank you for the great article! It's not only a helpfull information, but for me, as an English learner, it is also a source of new language constructions and phrases, that broadens my vocabulary. I've killed two birds with one stone: improved my English and got the inspiration to change my life. Now I'm going to add your website to my daily reading routine. Keep up the good work, Jim!

rightlifeproject's picture

Hi Dmitriy - Thank you so much for the feedback. I'm glad you find the site helpful in more ways than one, and I'm happy to be of service. Welcome to the community, and stay in touch!

Wu Jinghang's picture

I learn that longing for a more fulfilling life could mean that I am more alerted to my deeper needs as a human being (and not necessarily that I am greedy or unhappy).And also learning that certain thoughts are just electrochemical reactions in the brain. When bad or negative thoughts arise, that does not imply that I am really considering acting on them. They are just stirred up electrochemically. Thanks for the great article. I enjoyed reading it.

rightlifeproject's picture

So glad you took away some important points from this article, Wu. It's definitely important to remember that our thoughts aren't necessarily true. Thank you for the comment!

William B Bader's picture

I have recently been attractivedto the concepts of mindfulness and meditation, so I'm hoping that your site will be useful to me. Thanks Bill 

rightlifeproject's picture

Thanks for introducing yourself, Bill. I hope the site will be helpful, too--please stay in touch and let me know!

Suzy Elford's picture

Hi there JimI came across your website  by accident and have found it fascinating and interesting.  I look forward to starting the journey. Kind regards, Suzy

rightlifeproject's picture

Hi Suzy, and welcome! Thank you for introducing yourself, and for the feedback. I hope you continue to find the website helpful, and I hope to hear from you again!

Luke's picture

Thank you Jim, I enjoyed reading through your article! It's certainly made me stop and take a moment. I do feel more motivated to make the nessessary changes so have added myself to your mailing list. Am looking forward to receiving the pdf... Thanks Luke

rightlifeproject's picture

Great, Luke, glad to hear it and glad to have you as part of the community. I hope you find the emails and the website helpful, and please stay in touch with comments! 

Ashley Gonzalez's picture

I am glad I stumbled upon your article today. Today I was off from work and dropped off my almost 10 month old at day care and just came home and have been in a really down mood. I have realized that the more often I'm by myseof the less satisfied I am with my life and how unfulfilling it seems. I think of my dilemma of is there anything more in the afterlife or is earth and humans just it? I think of why is so and so living this lavish lifestyle and I am struggling and not doing all that I wanted to do in my life and why didn't I save more money when I was younger so I could get the home that I really want Or why am I struggling to believe in the faith I once held onto so firmly. I learned in your article that it's ok to self reflect and that I a lot of times am too critical on myself and I don't have to tackle the 4 realms at once and if I just do one small detail at a time then that is progress as opposed to wanting to work on every single area in my life at once. ( which being a mother, full time worker, and wife is hard not to do that, lol) Thank you for your work and I look forward to continu following your work as it was very encouraging to me and enlightening. 

rightlifeproject's picture

Thanks for the comment, Ashley, and I'm glad the article resonated with you. You took away a very important point: that the reward of undertaking personal growth efforts is very much in the journey itself, not just the outcome. Just do whatever you can today, even in a small way, to attend to your long-term needs and capacities, and the benefits will accumulate over time. Hope you join the email list, peruse more of the content here, and remain part of the conversation here!

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