My experience has led me to believe that for most of us, happiness and fulfilment comes from attaining a certain level in four key areas of life.
If one of these aspects is significantly out of whack, our overall level of happiness is likely to decrease (there is an important caveat here which we shall come to later).
There are lots of ways to categorise life and I don’t claim to have the best. I find it useful to summarise these key areas as follows below (and I’m assuming that we all think physical health is important so doesn’t need a mention here). Of course, it’s also possible to break these areas down into further sub-categories such as lifestyle, home, romance etc, but the following simple approach is sufficient for the point I want to make.
1) Work and career
We must be at least content with our work, or what we spend most of the day doing. We must be pleased with the direction of our career. We shouldn’t spend every hour between nine and five exasperated at the meaninglessness of the day’s activities. We should feel satisfaction with the things we do on a day-to-day basis.
2) Personal relationships
We must have positive relationships with the people in our lives. People should enjoy our company, our family life should be harmonious most of the time, our love-lives shouldn’t lurch from one disaster to another. Where there have been inter-relational difficulties in our lives, we should feel relatively at peace with them.
We must have enough money to pay for our existence, and do things that make life better. We don’t have to be insanely wealthy, but we should at least be able to pay our rent, eat, go on holiday, take time off, buy the clothes we wish to wear, have money to help other people out if necessary, save a bit etc. What amount of money this takes will vary from person to person.
We must have developed resilience to life’s challenges and have regular access to a positive state of mind. Having a healthy mindset can involve living ‘mindfully’ and can be trained through meditation and other practices. It also relates to the ways we habitually respond to difficulties when they arise, and the degree to which we have been able to evolve beyond conditioned tendencies, if necessary.
The bonus-points category
The area of mindset carries extra importance. I say this because a highly developed capacity for resilience, and the ability to experience peace of mind regardless of outside circumstances is an incredibly useful thing to have.
Life is unpredictable and having a solid mindset can offer protection against life’s ups and downs. Although difficult childhoods and challenging life events can mean we feel vulnerable when times are hard, the good news is that we can learn a degree of inner mastery by undertaking certain practices and training our minds.
Excelling in the mindset department can help you when you are lacking abundance in the other categories. As such, strong mindset is crucial to our happiness as humans, and developing this facility deserves our daily attention.
But don’t ignore the others
Having said that, all of the different areas of life are important and should be cultivated if one is to have regular access to happiness or fulfilment. Any major imbalance can be detrimental.
For example, it’s possible some people might focus their efforts on their inner lives to the neglect of other areas. Sooner or later this can catch up with you. I know, as I’ve been guilty of this in the past.
What about you?
How is your life doing in these different categories? Do you agree that happiness depends on achieving a certain level in these key areas? What could you be doing to raise your level in work and career, your personal relationships, your finances and your mindset? Do you have a daily routine that is designed to strengthen your mindset?
Comment your answers below if you feel like it, I’d love to know. In later articles we’ll be sure to explore what makes a meaningful and contented life more deeply.
Links and resources
Mindvalley Lifebook Assessment (A free assessment you can take of 12 key areas of life, so you can see where you’re at and where to focus your efforts. Not an affiliate link.)