10 ways to live a more fulfilling life

Most of us would jump at the chance to live a more fulfilling life. And while we may feel that to do so would take a lot of extra effort, the truth is, finding happiness and fulfilment in life is a lot easier than we think.

All it needs is some conscious action – and consistency.

With that in mind, here are 10 ways to live a more fulfilling life that you can get going with right now.

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Cultivate good relationships

In a pioneering Harvard study conducted in 2018, researchers tracked 724 participants from many different walks of life over the course of 75 years. They wanted to know the key to long-term happiness and fulfilment. The answer? Relationships.

According to their findings, people were happier and healthier when they had several different relationships.

But there was a caveat. Knowing people wasn’t enough. Nor was engaging superficially with folk (we’re looking at you, Facebook “friends”).

For a person’s relationships to truly bring them fulfilment, they needed to form quality connections. That might include people who made them laugh, friends they could rely on and those they feel they can talk to about anything.

So do a quick audit of your relationships. Do you have people in your life with whom you have a real and comfortable connection? People that you feel support you and to whom you can turn if the need arises?

If not, then maybe it’s time to put yourself out there and begin creating genuine bonds.

Say yes more often

How many times do you opt out of gatherings, events, projects, or anything that feels even slightly outside your comfort zone? Probably more times than you realise.

But saying yes to things that challenge you, even slightly, can open you up to new experiences, greater knowledge, deeper confidence and the possibility of encountering more moments of real happiness.

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Practice gratitude

Cultivating a regular gratitude practice has been shown to have huge benefits on your emotional, mental and physical health. 

The reason is easy to see: If you focus on the negative, you’ll feel negative. But if you focus on the things you’re thankful from your relationships to your morning Rice Krispies,  you’ll quickly realise just how great your life actually is.

Prioritise exercise

From improving your mood to energizing your body, exercise doesn’t just help you lead a longer life – it can help you lead a more fulfilling life too.

That’s because when you exercise your body releases chemicals called endorphins that trigger feel-good emotions in your body.

So, take a walk. Go for a cycle. Do anything that gets your body moving, and you’ll soon find yourself with more spring in your step and joy in your heart.

Don’t sweat the small stuff

Every day is filled with challenges. But if you waste all your energy on stressing over the small ones, you won’t be capable of combating bigger challenges if they come your way.

So, whether it’s a coffee spill down the front of your shirt or your hot water on the fritz, refuse to get worked up over the small stuff. Hakuna Matata, people. Let it go, move on. Enjoy your life.

Don’t sweat the big stuff either

If something happens that’s out of your control, it’s important to accept that. You don’t have to ignore it, feel defeated or give in to overwhelm. But you can face up to facts and make the conscious decision to approach whatever’s going on with a calm and clear mind instead.

Stop and smell the flowers

While you’re busy wondering how you can become more fulfilled, life is happening all around you. So, stop a moment and engage with it.

Use your senses and enjoy the sound of your partner laughing, the smell of freshly cut grass, or the feel of your hands around a hot coffee mug.

Wherever you are and whatever you’re doing, just stop a while and check in to the beauty of unfolding life.

Do something new/challenging every day (no matter how small)

Every time you challenge yourself to do something you haven’t done before, you’re laying the groundwork for new behaviours and beliefs that can potentially make you feel more fulfilled.

This is because doing something new or challenging helps build resilience, which can develop confidence and positivity. And these are two of the main emotional pillars needed to live a more fulfilling life.

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Keep it simple

Most people’s lives are pretty simple. But that doesn’t mean we don’t regularly over-complicate them.

We see obstacles where there are none. Overanalyze instead of appreciating. And more often than not, come up with a dozen reasons why we can’t do something rather than settle on the one reason we can.

So, when you start to feel stressed or overwhelmed, step back, take a deep breath and just do the first easiest thing. From there do the next easiest thing and so on.

Science shows that the simpler you make your life, the happier you will be.

Enjoy your own company

Being around others can be fun and energizing – Until it’s not.

We all need moments to pull back and recharge. Equally, we need time on our own to do the things that we love to do and which we often put aside as a compromise for others.

If you dread the idea of spending hours in your own company, remember that there is a big difference between being alone and feeling lonely. So, don’t think about your time spent solo as being anything other than a gift of freedom to be still and reflect, read or journal or engage in any activity or hobby that lights you up and fills your senses your joy.

For sure, having deep and meaningful relationships with others is important to your well-being. But to live a more fulfilling life, having a deep and meaningful relationship with yourself is the most important relationship of all.

Photo: Mikhail Nilov

Siobhan Colgan

Siobhan Colgan is a business owner and writer. As part of her work as a writer, she also helps other creatives and would-be writers find their voice. Email her at colgansiobhan@gmail.com to find out more.

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