Friday, November 28, 2008

Fullfilled or Just Happy?

“I just want to be happy!”

In the thirty plus years as a professional counselor working with couples, the most common response to the question, “What do you want?” is “I just want to be happy!” Digging deeper into the desire for happiness, it seems that happiness is a way of thinking about desired life outcomes as it “should be”. Unhappiness in the relationship was connected to unfilled ‘isms’ or beliefs like “should”, “must”, or “supposed to be”.

Beyond Survival

Often human beings are more concerned about survival than prospering. We find ourselves identifying what we need minimally to “be happy”. This kind of happiness could be simply described as experiencing life the way it “should be”. We look at the world around us and the people in it, the people who seem to be happy. And we identify what it will take for us to experience that happiness. Happiness looks a certain way and has its price tags. The “happiness” in survival mode is a comparative happiness. The dialogue that is connected may sound like this, “Well at least I don’t have to make their car payment!” Happiness in this way of thinking is connected with certain desired outcomes and can seem unattainable.

The cycle of beginnings and endings rob us…

The survival way of thinking certainly applies to our relationships. We notice the relationships of others and may idolize what seems to make people happy. Our sights are usually set unrealistically in this mindset. Women want to find the perfect man, the knight in shining armor who is funny and tender and understanding. Men want to find the woman who is youthful and beautiful, the mysterious damsel waiting to be discovered. When this does not seem to come easily, we quickly revert to the survivor mode, which leaves us with taking whatever comes our way or settling for what seems attainable. In short order we find this does not make us “happy” but rather frustrated and dejected, and in a cycle of beginnings and endings that rob us emotionally.

A Rich and Vibrant Relationship = Fulfillment!

The idea of fulfillment is in stark contrast to the idea of happiness in the survival mode. Fulfillment is an acceptance of what is. Fulfillment is not possible if one is always concerned about what is missing or “wrong”. Fulfillment looks to the potential and possibility of a relationship. This kind of happiness fosters growth and celebrates the unique characteristics that can make for a rich and vibrant relationship. Fulfillment is the mindset of those who wish to prosper in relationships. The beginning of prosperity in a relationship comes from acceptance of what is.

What Would You Choose?

If you focus on what “is not” or missing, then quickly you become unhappy and then only make the happiness of survival your goal. To be aware of what is working, what is valuable in yourself and your partner points you to the fulfilling engagement of two individuals committed to prospering in all life areas. The potential of this latter kind of happiness is unbounded. What kind of relationship would you choose to create?

Action Step!

What do think are the top 5 features of a Fulfilled Relationship!

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Reader Comments

"...My spouse and I have been married for 32 years and I've experienced our relationship from giggly in bed, to passionate in bed, to mad in bed to "sleeping" in bed...As we grow older the intimacy definition changes for me. Intimacy also for me is just sitting quietly, or driving for miles quietly or walking just hearing our footsteps crunch the leaves, holding hands. My usual struggle in intimacy is in my head - I have to intentionally stop my daily to do list, my past and future stuff and live in the present moment..." Pam

it's ... smaller things to celebrate that create the real passion

“We have found that passion ebbs and flows but we set a goal for our relationship a number of years ago that is working for us. At least every six months we do something that will create a lifetime memory. For us, we love to travel, so it's been pretty easy to find something big to do that will create that lifetime memory, but sometimes it's the finding of smaller things to celebrate that create the real passion.” Steve Rae

What'll arouse passion more than the feeling of being forgiven?

“The "typical beliefs that people have when the “fire” seems to have gone out of a relationship" I believe are a) that you feel your partner should have changed or should not have changed and b) that you feel you should change or that you should not have changed.

Acceptance of yourself and your partner leads to forgiveness. What'll arouse passion more than the feeling of being forgiven?” Brian Massey

A word from Russ Hardesty

The realm of relationship is mysterious; filled with magic, surprise, excitement, passion, intimacy, loss, disappointment and creativity. I am fortunate to have a life partner who is at once a mirror, teacher, lover, nurturer, student and companion. In this place of mystery, I continue to grow into a mature, loving and free man. I welcome feedback, suggestions, and comments – which is a gift to me! Thanks for joining the expedition! Russ