Better to feel fulfilled than merely full

Think about how long most people hold onto the residue of negative or even mediocre experience.

They prosecute themselves for crimes past and preoccupy themselves with next time, thinking about how it’s going to be different. Both of these ruminations cheat them out of the present moment, which is the only place joy and meaning are available.

Take lunch at work. You grab a crappy sandwich and bring it back to the office, so you can eat with your team. And as you shove that hoagie into your face for the next twelve minutes, you start looking around the break room, falling into the trap of post choice pondering.

Man, my boss ordered a salad from that new falafel place. And the intern picked up chicken and rice. Wait, are those pork dumplings my coworker ordered? What restaurant in our neighborhood has that? Dude, it looks way better that my greasy meatball sub. Goddamn it. Why do my lunch choices always suck? This is stupid. Wait until tomorrow. Gonna spend a few extra bucks and crush that sushi lunch special from across the street. I’ll be the envy of the entire office and finally win lunch.

Has this ever happened to you? Or have you ever watched someone prosecute and preoccupy, and end up diminishing the satisfaction they get from the choices they have already made?

We can all do better than this.

It reminds me of something an older family friend told me at our wedding. We were laughing at the fact that we spent thousands and thousands of dollars on all this delicious food, none of which we actually got to eat, since we were too busy dancing and laughing and crying with hundreds of people we loved.

My uncle put his hand on my shoulder and said, look, at a certain point, you start to care less about what’s on the table and more about who’s around it.

He was right. Being fulfilled is more important than simply being full.

We need to stop holding ourselves prisoner by our painful past or fearful future. Whatever is happening right now matters more.

With every minute that we spend pondering about the opportunity cost of our last decision, the more that our ultimate satisfaction from that decision decreases.

Let’s end our pursuit of perpetual improvement, and let’s begin our practice of permanent appreciation. 

How long do you hold onto the residue of your experiences?


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