Overcoming the constant pursuit of fulfilment

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SilentDawning
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Overcoming the constant pursuit of fulfilment

Post by SilentDawning » 19 May 2019, 11:05

A while ago I took a course in happiness. The author of the course commented that we tend to pursue things that bring us pleasure, and avoid pain. I am not talking about naked, bodily pleasure necessarily, but about things that bring joy, contentment, fulfilment etcetra.

It's the latter group of pleasure outcomes I'm referring to.

I find that we take on new hobbies, initiatives, or plans to create new experiences we think will make us happy. We pursue these goals, and often, produce the happiness intended. However, after a while, these activities lose their ability to produce the kind of mental "happiness" charge they used to, so we move on to other new activities. This is wholesome at times too -- goal setting, having varied experiences and learning new skills.

But it can also be tiring eventually. For example, since I was a teenager, I always wanted to be a musician. I was frustrated in my goals by a whole variety of factors, from lack of ability, inability to find a good teacher, and then finding the right group of musicians to fulfil my ambitions. Ten years ago I rekindled my pursuit of musical fulfillment, and for the last 8 years, have been a busy, and successful local musician. Weddings, music festivals, corporate events, original music compositions, lots and lots and lots and lots of fun.

Then, one day, I woke up and found I didn't want to go to an upcoming gig. It seemed like a hassle to set up all my equipment and stand in the same position playing jazz for 3 hours (with 10-minute breaks). The life of it had gone out of it. I was tired And this was a gig where I would perform with some of the top musicians in town. And this feeling has persisted for several months now.

Now I don't feel interested in music. I don't want to gig. I don't want to write new music -- I feel like I've done it the highest extent I ever thought I would do it. I even had a couple of performances with a green room, catered food, and people hauling all my gear. I don't feel interested in it anymore.

Here is the Forrest Gump version of what happens to us. Watch until the part he starts retracing his steps, parting the audience. It's only a minute or two

https://youtu.be/QgnJ8GpsBG8?t=344

How do we keep ourselves in a constant state of contentment, without feeling we have to pursue other new adventures or skills or projects? Even when such things are wholesome?

Having done these things all my life, with great contentment, I want to feel peaceful and content without all the work involved in striving as I have for over 5 decades on this planet. I think people in the church might benefit from this inquiry. After several decades in the church, I've experienced just about everything there is to offer in local leadership, less being a Bishop, but I have a pretty good idea what that would be like. And I have no desire to strive for it (which striving is discouraged anyway in our church). People often burn out from church service doing routine callings they mastered (mostly) years ago. How can they be content doing a simple calling when all the joy from learning new things has gone out of it?

Thoughts are welcome. As I normally do, I'll probably get ideas after articulating the problem here, but your comments are always very helpful in triggering new ideas and new strategies.

So I repeat my question -- How do we keep ourselves in a constant state of contentment, without feeling we have to pursue other new adventures or skills or projects? Even when such things are wholesome?
Last edited by SilentDawning on 19 May 2019, 11:52, edited 2 times in total.
"It doesn't have to be about the Church (church) all the time!" -- SD

"Stage 5 is where you no longer believe the gospel as its literally or traditionally taught. Nonetheless, you find your own way to be active and at peace within it". -- SD

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. No price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself."

My introduction: viewtopic.php?f=8&t=1576

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DarkJedi
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Re: Overcoming the constant pursuit of fulfilment

Post by DarkJedi » 19 May 2019, 11:44

Self fulfillment is the top level of Maslow's Hierarchy, yes? And not everybody gets there, correct? Sadly, some never get beyond the very basic level of need. Count your many blessings SD.
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

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Roy
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Re: Overcoming the constant pursuit of fulfilment

Post by Roy » 19 May 2019, 14:46

I have been in similar situations SD. I feel that I have certain skill sets that would work well in leadership positions. Initially , I feel very honored and respected when recognized for my contribution or asked to take on a leadership role. At some point the honor, respect, and recognition can morph into expectation. Once expectation sets in it brings drudgery and even dread along with it. It can become like an unpaid job.

I do agree that this forms somewhat of a cycle. I think the solution is in moderation and forming boundaries. It is wholly appropriate to reduce invovlement or even to step down as necessary to maintain personal equalibrium.
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

thegreythinker
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Re: Overcoming the constant pursuit of fulfilment

Post by thegreythinker » 19 May 2019, 15:39

I am struggling with this right now. What used to bring me joy or fullfillment in life, gave me disappointments or wore me out so I stopped doing them.

Right now my main focus in life is facing my anxiety fears a little bit at a time because the more I face them, the easier they become. Plus failing leads to success.

Also one thing that really helps me is being out in nature. Sometimes I'll go to a park on a nice sunny day and sit on a bench for 20 or 30 minutes.

As for church, I'm really struggling with that too. I feel like I don't get much out of it anymore, but what helps me to want to keep going,  I try to focus on those things that I can look forward to. Like singing the hymns in sacrament meeting, doing my primary calling, (I love being amongst the children) potlucks or fun ward activities, and being able to talk with people.

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SilentDawning
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Re: Overcoming the constant pursuit of fulfilment

Post by SilentDawning » 19 May 2019, 16:55

I am glad my post didn't sit there for two weeks with no responses like some of them do (I consider it my fault when that happens). Particularly introspective ones like this. :D

Very glad others have experienced what I mean and have some suggestions....more reflection...

I was thinking about a less complicated way of explaining it. Basically, we seek interesting things, we do them, feel joy, and then get bored with them. On to the next thing! And I'm not talking about worldy pleasure or joy either -- you know, getting a house, then a boat, then a secondary property, then some other thing. I'm talking about wholesome things. LIke this -- you get asked to be YM Counselor (Ward level) and its new and fun. But you get bored eventually, maybe tired you have no power to call shots. Then you get called as YM President, and that's cool. Maybe interesting for 2 or three times in different Wards (happened to me -- took a while before I got bored with it). Then you are Stake Young Men's Counselor for a while, and that's interesting, but it gets boring after you experience all it has to offer. Then you get called as YM President, and after 3 years the same thing happens...I had a Bishop whose unspoken criterion for calling many people to positions was whether they'd done it before. And if they'd never done it before that made them a strong candidate -- he realized the boredom factor and the need to keep people in new experiences.

I see we have all experienced something like that before. I am reflecting on this, and think a few things might help...

1) Take joy in an empty schedule to just do whatever you feel like sometimes -- even for stretches of time like months until you decide what to do again. Permit that for yourself.

Today I went into the wilderness for a hike and it was great. I've hiked a million times, but this was a new forest with new experiences. No really great mental or physical burden, just peace, and aloneness.

2) Allow yourself to turn off your achievement motivation. The world doesn't always need you!

There have been times when I held a position of leadership and felt the whole thing would fall apart if I died or left. I move on from that Ward, and then someone else gets called. Often I hear of new, fresh, great ideas brought to life by the new person, sometimes even better than I did. You realize that the world doesn't really need you -- these experiences are for YOU, not you, for the experiences so to speak. So it's OK to take a break sometimes.

3) Seek things you really like doing that don't knock you out.

I think part of the treadmill is taking on things that are way hard. I have done that much of my life . I plan to do some fun things for a while like kayaking, orienteering, hiking, camping out, etcetera. I can do these things as I feel like it, without having to knock myself out. Basically, find low hanging joy in areas that bend to your schedule and not the other way around.

I have a feeling we can never turn off our joy-seeker. We will always get bored and want more interesting things in our lives. I think part of making it sustainable is to pace ourselves -- take on those big interesting projects (BIP's) when you have time and energy, and take on those little interesting projects (LIP's) when they occur.
Last edited by SilentDawning on 22 May 2019, 11:40, edited 1 time in total.
"It doesn't have to be about the Church (church) all the time!" -- SD

"Stage 5 is where you no longer believe the gospel as its literally or traditionally taught. Nonetheless, you find your own way to be active and at peace within it". -- SD

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. No price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself."

My introduction: viewtopic.php?f=8&t=1576

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SilentDawning
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Joined: 09 May 2010, 19:55

Re: Overcoming the constant pursuit of fulfilment

Post by SilentDawning » 19 May 2019, 17:04

DarkJedi wrote:
19 May 2019, 11:44
Self fulfillment is the top level of Maslow's Hierarchy, yes? And not everybody gets there, correct? Sadly, some never get beyond the very basic level of need. Count your many blessings SD.
That part in bold really resonated with me. I've done a lot of really interesting things in my life. Really interesting. To the point I sometimes wonder what I'd do in retirement....I guess this is a nice problem to have!
"It doesn't have to be about the Church (church) all the time!" -- SD

"Stage 5 is where you no longer believe the gospel as its literally or traditionally taught. Nonetheless, you find your own way to be active and at peace within it". -- SD

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. No price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself."

My introduction: viewtopic.php?f=8&t=1576

Roy
Posts: 5487
Joined: 07 Oct 2010, 14:16
Location: Pacific Northwest

Re: Overcoming the constant pursuit of fulfilment

Post by Roy » 20 May 2019, 10:18

SilentDawning wrote:
19 May 2019, 16:55
2) Allow yourself to turn off your achievement motivation. The world doesn't always need you!

There have been times when I held a position of leadership and felt the whole thing would fall apart if I died or left. I move on from that Ward, and then someone else gets called. Often I hear of new, fresh, great ideas brought to life by the new person, sometimes even better than I did. You realize that the world doesn't really need you -- these experiences are for YOU, not you, for the experiences so to speak. So it's OK to take a break sometimes.
Yes. DW and I have been strong contributors in a program where our son was a participant. We did more than was expected of us and helped to fill the gaps of the program's leadership because we wanted the program to be a quality experience for our son. 6 months ago our son aged out of the program and we have just kept holding it together out of habit and expectation. It is reaching a breaking point. There is some new blood in the leadership team but they seem content to sit back and watch DW and I shoulder most of the burden. DW and I have decided to exaggerate another commitment to mean that we will not be able to perform these extra duties in 2 months. We will recommend that the leadership team meet to plan and delegate these responsibilities after those 2 months. In this rather specific example, we are reducing our involvement and realigning our boundaries. We are giving ample notice to our successors and will still be available for consultation afterwards.
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

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felixfabulous
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Re: Overcoming the constant pursuit of fulfilment

Post by felixfabulous » 21 May 2019, 06:11

I just read a book that I really liked, with a provocative title (seems to be all the rage now) that means that I unfortunately can't recommend it to many others: "The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F***. . ." by Mark Manson. There is some really good stuff in there about happiness, values and fulfillment. His main point is that solving problems, having meaningful relationships and doing something bigger than ourselves give us meaning and happiness as humans. We tend to want to work toward a life without problems, but end up with other problems (trust fund kids for example). He advocates finding the right problems to work on, enjoying simple pleasures and meaningful relationships. To me, this makes a lot of sense. I also have found that there is real truth to the idea of a sabbath. Not necessarily a day of staying in your church clothes and reading scriptures, but a day of doing nothing. Nothing planned, nothing accomplished and just totally unwinding. Ironically, I think this makes us able to gear up and do more later.

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SilentDawning
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Re: Overcoming the constant pursuit of fulfilment

Post by SilentDawning » 21 May 2019, 06:38

Roy wrote:
20 May 2019, 10:18
SilentDawning wrote:
19 May 2019, 16:55
2) Allow yourself to turn off your achievement motivation. The world doesn't always need you!

There have been times when I held a position of leadership and felt the whole thing would fall apart if I died or left. I move on from that Ward, and then someone else gets called. Often I hear of new, fresh, great ideas brought to life by the new person, sometimes even better than I did. You realize that the world doesn't really need you -- these experiences are for YOU, not you, for the experiences so to speak. So it's OK to take a break sometimes
Yes. DW and I have been strong contributors in a program where our son was a participant. We did more than was expected of us and helped to fill the gaps of the program's leadership because we wanted the program to be a quality experience for our son. 6 months ago our son aged out of the program and we have just kept holding it together out of habit and expectation. It is reaching a breaking point. There is some new blood in the leadership team but they seem content to sit back and watch DW and I shoulder most of the burden. DW and I have decided to exaggerate another commitment to mean that we will not be able to perform these extra duties in 2 months. We will recommend that the leadership team meet to plan and delegate these responsibilities after those 2 months. In this rather specific example, we are reducing our involvement and realigning our boundaries. We are giving ample notice to our successors and will still be available for consultation afterwards.
Roy -- I get all this. I think your story is more about changing priorities given your children moving on from the program, though-- right? Although I also think that's relevant from a time management perspective, I think what I'm talking about here is the novelty of a certain project wearing off -- a project that once excited you.
"It doesn't have to be about the Church (church) all the time!" -- SD

"Stage 5 is where you no longer believe the gospel as its literally or traditionally taught. Nonetheless, you find your own way to be active and at peace within it". -- SD

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. No price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself."

My introduction: viewtopic.php?f=8&t=1576

User avatar
SilentDawning
Posts: 7147
Joined: 09 May 2010, 19:55

Re: Overcoming the constant pursuit of fulfilment

Post by SilentDawning » 21 May 2019, 06:38

felixfabulous wrote:
21 May 2019, 06:11
I just read a book that I really liked, with a provocative title (seems to be all the rage now) that means that I unfortunately can't recommend it to many others: "The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F***. . ." by Mark Manson. There is some really good stuff in there about happiness, values and fulfillment. His main point is that solving problems, having meaningful relationships and doing something bigger than ourselves give us meaning and happiness as humans. We tend to want to work toward a life without problems, but end up with other problems (trust fund kids for example). He advocates finding the right problems to work on, enjoying simple pleasures and meaningful relationships. To me, this makes a lot of sense. I also have found that there is real truth to the idea of a sabbath. Not necessarily a day of staying in your church clothes and reading scriptures, but a day of doing nothing. Nothing planned, nothing accomplished and just totally unwinding. Ironically, I think this makes us able to gear up and do more later.
I have this book in my Kindle to read, but have never gotten around to it. I must read it!
"It doesn't have to be about the Church (church) all the time!" -- SD

"Stage 5 is where you no longer believe the gospel as its literally or traditionally taught. Nonetheless, you find your own way to be active and at peace within it". -- SD

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. No price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself."

My introduction: viewtopic.php?f=8&t=1576

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