According to the experts, spiritual fulfillment always has to do with a poorly defined definition of what the spirit is — namely, that it’s something that has nothing to do with reality, that it must have something to do with gods or spirits or a connection to the universe or some other religious or faux-religious bullshit.
I reject this definition.
I think that spiritual fulfillment means the same thing as feeling contented, as feeling as though your life means something.
I think that it doesn’t have to have anything to do with religion or spirituality as these things presuppose some sort of higher power, something greater than us that we must obey or connect with if we are going to feel fulfilled.
It implies that you cannot feel fulfilled unless you are connected to something greater than you, even if that thing is just a community or the universe.
I don’t think you have to feel connected to anything to feel fulfilled.
As a writer who spends a lot of time alone, I can tell you that I don’t need a god, a religion, or a spiritual practice in my life to feel fulfilled.
Spiritual fulfillment is just fulfillment, which is defined as, “the achievement of something or the satisfaction or happiness that comes from fully developing one’s abilities or character.”
You can feel spiritually fulfilled without having to turn to religion or spirituality.
Religion and Spirituality Can Lead to Spiritual Fulfillment Too
I searched online for information on spiritual fulfillment, and I was pretty disappointed by what I found.
Most of it was deeply religious, and most of it was Christian.
I’m not saying that religion or Christianity is bad — I’m saying that spiritual fulfillment is something that all humans crave in one form or another.
I’m saying religion isn’t the only way to achieve spiritual fulfillment.
If you’re seeking to grow spiritually, there are numerous religious and non-religious methods that you can employ.
Here’s what I recommend.
1. Seek What Matters to You
More than anything, to feel fulfilled, you need to seek what matters to you.
That can be anything on this list. Maybe it’s a hobby. Maybe it’s a job you’ve always wanted. Maybe it’s starting a family. Maybe it is getting into a religion (or back into a religion).
What matters, I think, is that you’re seeking. You’re striving. Speaking for myself, I feel immensely fulfilled when I can say, at least if I haven’t gotten what I wanted, that I’m trying.
For instance, I am a writer, and I want to publish a book. I’ve written 3 books, and none of them have been published.
Maybe I’m a failure, but I don’t care — it’s the seeking that matters.
2. Find a Hobby That Makes You Happy
For many people, work isn’t fulfilling — in fact, 85% of people hate their jobs.
What can we do about that? For many people, that just can’t be changed — their job isn’t something that’s going anywhere.
That means our hard work can be unfulfilling, so maybe we do the bare minimum at work.
I totally understand this.
However, there are other things we can do with our energy that can bring fulfillment into our lives.
A hobby is one of them.
My hobby is writing, the kind of writing that I like to do, which is blogging for myself and writing fiction.
I also write for a living, but that doesn’t fulfill me.
It gives me a sense that I’m doing something that matter. These little hobbies of mine give me a sense of spiritual fulfillment that work will never give me.
Pick up a hobby. Find something you truly enjoy. It may give you the fulfillment that work will never be able to give you.
3. Find a Job That Makes You Happy
As I mentioned, 85% of people hate their jobs, but I have a very dear friend who has been out of work for about a month, and they are literally losing their mind.
Even when work isn’t necessarily something you love, it can make you feel fulfilled.
You feel like you’re doing something constructive, something worthwhile.
And let’s not forget that remaining 15%. They have a job that they like or love.
It can be hard to find a job that you love — very hard. I have been trying to get the job that I know I’ll love for 6 years, and I don’t know if I’ll ever get it.
But I can tell you that this work makes people feel fulfilled, and if you can get that job that makes you happy, you can achieve true spiritual fulfillment.
4. Find a Religion That Gives You Spiritual Fulfillment
So this is an obvious one that has to be touched on despite what I said in the beginning. It’s the most common way that people around the world find fulfillment.
If you’re not finding fulfillment in your everyday life, then maybe you need to look for it from some kind of god.
I explored many different religions when I first got sober. None of them ever worked for me, but maybe they’ll work for you.
It doesn’t hurt to investigate them and find out if there’s something there that can lead you to spiritual fulfillment. I went to a number of churches and a temple years ago to see what they had to offer.
At some of those places, I found peace, but I didn’t find anything worth going back for.
You might find something different.
5. Find a Spiritual Practice
If religion isn’t the thing for you, and increasingly, it isn’t for many people around the world, then maybe a spiritual practice that’s non-religious can bring you spiritual fulfillment.
There are many non-spiritual practices out there that lead people to spiritual fulfillment.
Investigate them just like you would a religion. Go to a yoga class. Go to a meditation class. See if they work for you.
6. Find a Friend Who Makes You Feel Fulfilled
I think this one is hard for a lot of people because so much judgment comes along with it.
There are people who will tell you that the only way to feel fulfilled is through yourself.
I think that’s bullshit.
For many people around the world, fulfillment can come from other people.
In many cases, that includes friends. Friendship is so powerful that the ancient greeks came up with a name for it — a platonic relationship.
I have a number of relationships in my life that make me feel fulfilled. I feel like I have someone in my corner, someone who cares, someone who would do anything for me, just like I would do anything for them.
Friendship drives away loneliness.
You might be in a position in your life where it’s hard to find friends, but fortunately, there are many online groups and apps specifically centered around finding friends.
Give them a try.
7. Get Into a Relationship
Again, people will tell you that if you rely on another person for fulfillment that you’re doing something that is somehow codependent, which implies that this fulfillment is fake or false.
Again, this is bullshit.
So many people find true fulfillment from romantic relationships. Obviously, many of these don’t work out, but just as obviously, many do.
I can say with full honesty that my relationship with my wife brings me a form of spiritual fulfillment.
She lifts me up, and I lift her up, and that feels good. It makes me feel content to just be with her, to hold her in my arms.
Relationships are a human need. People who are lonely often suffer and feel unfulfilled.
I know it can be hard to seek this, but again, the world is filled with dating websites and apps that can make it easier to meet people and get into a relationship.
Give them a try.
8. Get a Pet
If a relationship with another person is just something you’re not ready for (or that you don’t want), you might find fulfillment in a pet.
People all over the world keep pets. I’ve had cats or dogs as pets for most of my life.
There’s nothing quite like having a creature that is completely dependent on your and that gives you unconditional love to make you feel good.
Remember, one of the main tenets of the bible is that god is love.
What could be more loving than a relationship with a pet?
Maybe my next suggestion.
9. Have Children
People will tell you that having children for the sake of yourself and your happiness is a bad idea, that this won’t lead you to spiritual fulfillment.
God, I can’t believe how much bullshit there is in the world — this is just more of it.
Many people dream of having children — they’ve dreamed of it since they were young.
So many people want to have children, want to have someone they can raise, who can be there for them when they’re old, who will love them and to whom they can give all the love that’s in their heart.
Of course you would have children for selfish reasons — why wouldn’t you? Otherwise, you’re having them out of some sense of duty or obligation, which seems like a terrible way to bring a child into the world.
So many people feel true fulfillment from their kids.
Don’t discount this.
10. Spend Time in Nature
For me, one of the biggest forms of spiritual fulfillment that I’ve found is to go out into the world and spend time in nature.
I find that my awe at the majesty of the natural world gives me a sense of spiritual fulfillment.
Not everyone can do this. For many people, it’s just not feasible, monetarily or because of where they live.
If you can, try to get out of the house and go somewhere you’ve always wanted to go.
Maybe this is for a hike on a mountain or in a forest. Maybe this is a trip to the beach. I can tell you, now that I’m near a beach all the time, that looking at the vastness of the ocean absolutely fills me with a sense of spiritual awe.
11. Investigate Spiritual Practices That Include Hallucinogens
This one is controversial because hallucinogens can be highly addictive for some people.
However, for most people, they’re not.
This is also controversial because so many hallucinogens are illegal, but remember that for most of civilizations existence, these draconian laws about drugs have not existed.
I believe all drugs should be legal and that people should be able to decide for themselves to take them or not, but that’s a topic for another time.
There are many spiritual practices around the world that include the ingestion of hallucinogens.
If you’re not an addict, and if you’re not finding spiritual fulfillment in your everyday life, you might need the spiritual boost that many people find through hallucinogens.
I won’t say try them — I will say that you should investigate the practice.
12. Meditate for Spiritual Fulfillment
But for many people, meditation is a way to break that down, to dissolve barriers, and to find a sense of peace, spiritual fulfillment, and oneness with their god or the universe.
While hallucinogens are a sort of shortcut to spiritual fulfillment, meditation is a natural way to reach it, though it takes a lot more work and time.
Give it a try.
Prayer is another way that many people find spiritual fulfillment.
It’s incredibly common around the world, and different people pray in different ways in different languages, but the goal is the same — connect with a higher power.
I don’t really believe in a god, but I pray anyway because that’s what the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous tells me to do if I want to stay sober.
So I do it.
And I find that it brings me a sense of peace, if nothing else.
14. Work the 12 Steps
As I’ve mentioned, I work the 12 steps regularly. I’ve found that they give me an immense sense of spiritual fulfillment.
They’re not for everyone, and their goal is usually to help someone with something they’re struggling with, but you don’t have to be an addict or an alcoholic to benefit from them.
They’re based on Chrisitian principles for sure, but you can be secular and still give them a try.
15. Confess Your Secrets to Someone
Confession is a time-honored tradition in many religions.
There’s a saying in AA that secrets keep us sick.
I’ve found that to be true.
My secrets filled me with a sense of guilt and shame that I couldn’t shake.
When I confessed them to another person (my sponsor in AA), I found that I was freed of a great deal of baggage I’d been carrying around my entire life.
It lead me to a sense of spiritual fulfillment that’s hard to describe. It takes away the power of the past to affect my present.
16. Practice Gratitude to Feel Spiritual Fulfillment
This is a really common suggestion for people in AA, but you’ll find that many spiritual programs recommend it as well.
Making a gratitude list (or praying for gratitude, or acting grateful in your life) can take things that are unfulfilling and make them seem not so bad.
When I’m feeling grateful for what I have, I’m feeling a sense of spiritual fulfillment.
17. Live One Day at a Time
When I’m future tripping and worried about what is to come, when I’m not living in the moment, I’m living in fear.
Living in fear means I’m not feeling fulfilled — I’m not content.
When I focus on today, I can focus on what needs to be done, the tasks at hand, and when I complete them, I feel like I’ve done something worthwhile.
I don’t have to worry about tomorrow. Many people who live this way feel a sense of peace. They feel content because worry has left them.
Living one day at a time is a better way of life.
18. Get Rich, Because Money Does Buy Spiritual Fulfillment
Anyone who tells you that money doesn’t buy happiness is lying to you.
Anyone who tells you that money is the root of all evil is lying to you.
Anyone who tells you that material things won’t fulfill you is lying to you.
A study 10 years ago found that, in fact, people became happier and happier the more money they made.
The amount was $75,000 a year.
They said that happiness remained unchanged when people got more money, but importantly, they said that incomes over this amount increased life satisfaction.
If life satisfaction doesn’t mean spiritual fulfillment, then this whole article is worthless.
Money can make you feel fulfilled. Imagine going to a restaurant and not worrying what the bill will be.
Imagine walking into a store and buying whatever the hell you want for any reason or no reason.
Imagine living in the house of your dreams in the community you’ve always wanted to live in.
My parents are very rich.
They live in a very rich community.
The people in that community are very, very happy.
They are spiritually fulfilled.
And money is the reason why.
They are free from financial worries.
Few of us understand what that truly feels like.
19. Work Toward a Goal
Setting goals, even if you don’t achieve them, or if it’s going to take a very long time to achieve them, can give you a sense of meaning in your life.
I know that if I wasn’t working toward becoming a published novelist that I would feel lost in the world.
I feel like it’s what I was meant to be, and even though I’ve been working toward it for years (and may never reach it), I feel a sense of spiritual fulfillment to reach milestones on the way to that goal, even if those milestones are simply completing a book that will never be published.
Find a goal in your life that gives you a sense of meaning, and it may just lead you to a sense of spiritual fulfillment.
20. Find a Way to Live Your Dreams for a Sense of Spiritual Fulfillment
This is perhaps the toughest one on the list.
Dreams are different for everyone, and reaching them can often seem impossible.
Maybe your dream is to get a certain job, or to get rich, or to have children — any of the things I’ve listed here.
In some cases, your dreams might not turn out to be what you thought they would.
But for many happy people in the world, their dreams were exactly as amazing as they imagined they would be.
Never stop chasing your dreams.
They may just lead you to a sense of spiritual fulfillment.
Seek Spiritual Fulfillment No Matter What
There’s an idea that the sense of wanting something is bad, that the act of wanting will lead to suffering.
For me, that just doesn’t make much sense.
Wanting to feel spiritual fulfillment can absolutely lead you to finding it.
Don’t give up on this. It’s the journey that matters, right?
If you’ve found other ways of getting spiritual fulfillment, let me know in the comments.