Fulfillment, sometimes called eudaimonic happiness, or subjective well-being is primarily an emotion, secondarily a thought, and it reaches into the domain of action. It is distinguished from happiness in that it reaches into these other domains besides emotion. On these grounds, we could say that it is a global desire.
As usually described, fulfillment is also more enduring than happiness, which can be fleeting. Fulfillment is best seen as a quality of being that is related to a sense of long-term purpose, or purpose over a lifetime. Therefore, the positive association between prosocial behaviors, and also eudaimonic motives, and eudaimonic happiness should come as no surprise. Work performance appears to improve more in response to eudaimonic than hedonic happiness. Eudaimonic motives seem to improve performance among college students. A posited relationship between eudaimonic happiness and entrepreneurship is being investigated.
Fulfillment also reaches outside but does not neglect the self. Satisfaction, pleasure and longevity apply to the individual. Mainly, happiness does too. Fulfillment goes beyond that. A bank robber might experience happiness with his stolen wealth but most of us would strongly question whether his life in fulfilled. Many people say that parenthood fulfills them. Others say that they are fulfilled by serving others: for example, by teaching, providing for others or defending their country. As social creatures, we humans thrive on our relationships with others; the well-being of those we care about makes us happy. People who are childless or who live in solitude may find fulfillment too but our relationships with others add a dimension to our preferences and desires that most people identify as creating the distinction we call fulfillment. In this too, fulfillment is distinguished from mere happiness. It also begins to open us to spirituality.
The effects of SWB appear to be essentially universal around the world. Predictors include economic development, environmental health, equality and freedom. People who report higher levels of subjective well-being tend to live longer and happier lives. However, cultural values can play a role in the elderly.
- Anna Wiener, Uncanny Valley: A Memoir (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2019): “Anna Wiener recounts what made her, a 25-year-old woman with an ‘affectedly analog’ life in New York City, abandon her job at a literary agency in 2013 to work for tech start-ups, and what eventually — five years later — made her leave the industry. Money was certainly part of her original decision, but not all.”
Technical and Analytical Readings
- Susan Krauss Whitbourne, The Search for Fulfillment: Revolutionary New Research That Reveals the Secret To Long-Term Happiness (Ballantine Books, 2010).
Film and Stage
- A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, a “rare and tender story of a valiant and sensitive little girl reaching hopefully for spiritual fulfillment in a wretchedly meager home. It is the story of the wondrous love she gathered from a father who was a cheerful ne'er-do-well and of the painful peace she made with her brave mother after the adored father had died.” The story is also an exploration of imagination, with the gifted girl’s parents representing the extremes: the ungrounded father loaded with imagination and the fully grounded mother without imagination.
- The Rapture, about a young woman who becomes a Christian fundamentalist, the film highlights the dangerous interplay between human need, belief and interpretation
Music: Composers, artists, and major works
Élage Diouf is a Canadian singer from Senegal who expresses a wide range of emotions with his gentle baritone. Joy and compassion are two of his main offerings on his several albums, videos and uploads:
- Book 1, SV 1-39
- Book 2, SV 40-59
- Book 3, SV 60-74
- Book 4, SV 75-93
- Book 5, SV 94-106
- Book 6, SV 107-116
- Book 7, SV 117-145
- Book 8, SV 146-167
- Book 9, SV 168-179
- Noemi Nuti, “Venus Eye” (2020), upbeat songs about living; “. . . a celebration of the modern day female perspective through the medium of the traditional acoustic jazz quartet and the art of song form.”
- Fapy Lafertin New Quartet, “Atlantico”: following on Django Reinhardt’s example, “Belgian guitarist Fapy Lafertin’s latest album is another attempt to pull so-called “gypsy jazz” into the commercial mainstream.” The music is inviting, upbeat and self-assured.
Music: songs and other short pieces
- Yungchen Lhamo, “Happiness Is . . .”