Why Happiness In The Moment Is Not The Same As True Fulfillment

Nicolas Cole — Poetry Book

The hardest part about feeling “stuck” is the feeling itself.

This is a poem from my book, Slow Down, Wake Up. Logically, a lot of us can imagine what we wish our lives looked like. We “THINK” to ourselves, “If only I had a nicer apartment, then I’d be happy. If only I had a job I didn’t hate, then I’d feel fulfilled. If only I had more supportive people around me, then I’d be successful.”

Unfortunately, thinking is easy.

It’s moving forward, while carrying the feeling, that’s difficult.

Over the past ten years, I’ve watched myself change into becoming a very different version of who I am.

When I was younger, I was more pessimistic. More negative. I liked to look at life through a lens of frustration, hyper-focused on everything that was wrong with it and me. I used to be really lazy. I used to have a hard time getting myself to do anything that wasn’t immediately gratifying in the moment. You could say I was only interested in what gave me relief from the feeling of feeling stuck.

As I got older though, I started to learn the disadvantages of always taking The Easy Road.

By only looking for what will make life easier in the moment, you deprive yourself of what life could be in the future. In a sense, you don’t allow yourself to dream and then advance toward that dream. I saw this happen in very little moments throughout my day. I would choose to ride the elevator instead of taking the stairs (easy). I would choose to eat fast food instead of cooking myself a healthy dinner (easy). I would resort to coping mechanisms like watching TV instead of practicing my craft and working on my writing (easy). And every time I chose the easy road, I would feel relief for just a second, before falling right back into the same trap again: “I’m not happy. I’m unfulfilled. Nothing in my life is changing.”

It took me a very long time to realize that happiness in the moment is not the same as fulfillment from the journey.

A moment is fleeting. It has a beginning, middle, and end. And once it’s over, you are no longer connected to that moment — which means you have to find a “new moment.”

A journey, on the other hand, takes time. The connection you feel to a journey isn’t just in the moment of action, but it’s before the action happens (the anticipation) and after the action happens (the reflection, the waiting) until the next time you return. A journey is how you go from being a beginner, to being a practicioner, to being an expert. A journey is how you move from being negative and pessimistic to more positive and optimistic. A journey is how you transform who you are today into who you believe you could be tomorrow.

And the only way to go on a journey like that is to commit, and realize the feeling you will feel in each and every moment won’t be fleeting.

You will no longer be distracting yourself from who you are today.

Instead, the feeling you’ll feel is who you already are — and the journey will be the slow and steady awakening you experience to all the things that part of you could become.

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