• Flux Magazine

"Fulfilled" by Emma Landry

“Live in the sunshine. Swim in the sea. Drink in the wild air.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson

As busy, stressed humans, we have a tendency to forget what’s really important. We get caught up in our daily lives, our financial struggles, issues within our relationships, problems at work, and so many other things that are out of our control, but somehow consume our entire being. We do this so much that we forget to stop and smell the roses. We forget to try to see the beauty in the world we live in. We forget to live in the sunshine, and swim in the sea, and drink in the wild air.

The news is a dark place right now, and some may argue that the world as a whole is a dark place, but that does not mean that we don’t all need a little light sometimes. Everyone deserves some sunshine. We need this to stay sane. That is not to say that we should be ignoring our troubles. We need to deal with the things that cause us stress, but we need to do so with a level head and clear judgment, which is why it’s so important to step away from all of the darkness sometimes. Everyone has a different idea of what sunshine looks like to them; sometimes it’s a person, sometimes it’s a place, it could even be religion, but I urge everyone to find their sunshine outside of material objects. In doing so, you’re able to find happiness in whatever environment you’re in, regardless of any outside factors.

Famous transcendentalists like Emerson and Thoreau saw this early on. They knew that we needed our happiness to lie in something money can’t buy, namely nature and human connection, or human disconnection. They saw that the human spirit is most greatly fulfilled in a natural environment, like the sunshine, the sea, or the wild. Assuming that to be true, nobody can ever be truly fulfilled when they try to fill their soul with money or materials. Our beings crave a deeper connection- a connection money could never buy.

The counterargument to this is, of course, the classic line: “maybe money can’t buy happiness, but I’d rather cry in a Lamborghini.” Of course money can support happiness, it can induce it, even, but monetary happiness is not the kind of all-consuming, fulfilling happiness the great transcendentalists write about. Sure, money can make you happy, but it cannot make you full. The only way to achieve this filling happiness, in my opinion, backed by Emerson, is going back to the most basic, simple aspects of human existence, which include, but are not limited to: human connection, connection with nature, and religion or spirituality.

In order to live the most fulfilling life, one must reduce it to its simplest terms and see if they’re satisfied with what’s left over. If you remove all of the superficial, artificial, material aspects of your life, are you content with what remains? Are you happy in your relationships? Do you have a deep, spiritual connection something greater than yourself, whether that be nature, religion, or some other greater power? Figure out what it is that truly fills your soul, and do what you must in order to find that consuming, fulfilling happiness.

Learning to enjoy the simple things in life is how we learn to be fulfilled in ourselves and the lives we’ve chosen to live. It’s essential that we are capable of being happy with no material objects, because, if we aren’t, we are no more than the things we buy. That deeper connection is what gives us meaning in the universe, so if we lean on money, we may never feel like we have purpose. Reducing life to its simplest terms —learning to live in the sunshine, swim in the sea, and drink in the wild air— is the only way to make us feel complete.

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