Kindling #4: The two required components of happiness. And most only do one.


Hey how are you? I just got off a flight to Amsterdam and I’m now here close to the sea in northern Holland for three days of fun.

I really enjoy flying because it gives me undisturbed time to reflect and think and read and this time I was catching up on my To Read list.

It turned out there were a lot of articles about happiness. As you probably know there’s a lot of stuff written about happiness, which isn’t very strange because it’s the one thing we all have in common – we just want to be happy, whatever that means to each one of us.

But a lot of stuff written on happiness is very shallow and I think some of the advice on how to be happy is outright dangerous because it’ll set you off on the wrong path so I thought it would be helpful to deconstruct happiness a little bit and try to understand what makes up genuine happiness.

I think that happiness is built upon two components: the first component is joy and joy is that fleeting emotion of happiness that you get from playing with the kids or seeing a good movie and laugh out loud or having a dinner party with your friends.

The fleeting moment of happiness and joy it’s the easy one because if you feel you don’t have enough joy in your life we have shortcuts: stimulants or alcohol or heavier drugs or whatever it is that give you that buzz, that fleeting moment of happiness.

So joy is the first one and the second component I think is fulfillment.

Fulfillment is the progressive realization of your meaningful idea. So taking incremental steps towards something that is of importance to you.

For example you’re learning a skill so you can make a career move and do something that feels more meaningful to you or maybe learning how to ski so you can become a better mountaineer, or a conscious effort in your parenting so you can guide your kids through life because that’s constitutes the meaningful idea to you.

Whatever your meaningful idea is, it’s about the progressive realization of that.

So I see it as having to nurture and slowly fill up two cups, one cup of joy and one cup of a fulfillment. And you can’t be happy with 2 cups of joy and no fulfillment and I don’t think you can be happy with 2 cups of fulfillment and no joy either.

It’s about nurturing both of it to build a foundation for genuine happiness.

And I think it’s important to introduce the concept of conscious effort as well because joy that comes from conscious effort, so making effort to for example plan a dinner party to bring your friends together and have fun has much more profound impact and lasting feeling compared to that joy that comes from shortcuts, stimulants, alcohol whatever is your preferred drug.

When it comes to fulfillment there is only conscious effort which is what makes it a bit harder and while you’re pursuing your meaningful idea you will have ups and downs, you won’t to see immediate results but it’s about knowing that this is a meaningful idea to me and I’m going to pursue it with the ups and downs until I get closer to realizing it.

So, one cup of joy and one cup of fulfillment.

I’d like to finish off with a few questions for you.

  • When did you last experience joy?
  • What did you do at that time and how can you create more opportunities for experiencing joy?

And secondly,

  • What does fulfilment looked like to you?
  • Which activities do you need to take on a daily or weekly basis to slowly take steps towards that idea of fulfilment?
  • How can you create more opportunity in life for the progressive realisation of your meaningful idea?

Thank you for listening, talk to you soon again!

Kindlings are my way of keeping myself accountable for breathing the fire that’s in my soul and I hope to inspire others to do the same in the process.

The word kindling means a small and dry, easily flammable material to help a fire get going. Once the kindling is burning, it can ignite the larger pieces of wood in your fire.

That’s is what aspire to do – Help you start your fire so you experience the warmth of your soul and feel inspired to keep feeding the fire that’s in your soul. 

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