I was talking to a psychiatrist the other day, a pretty well decorated fellow, plaques, degrees, the whole 9 yards. We had a discussion surrounding human needs, and it was going smoothly… until he brought up the notion that “fulfillment” was a basic need. I sat there for a second, and considered this. It made absolutely no sense to me. Ill explain why. Lets dive in.
First we must start off with the very idea of fulfillment. “The achievement of something desired, promised, or predicted.” Is the fulfillment a long list of goals, or one goal that you chase your entire life? Are these goals pre-programmed into your mind, or do you simply get to decide the goal yourself? Everyday I look around at people who are chasing these goals, this fulfillment, and I see nothing but sadness on their faces. People rushing to work, never really all there when having conversations, they always seem to be searching for something. Could this be the fulfillment that the doc was talking about? Now, there is much wiggle room just surrounding the defining factors of a human need itself, but I attempted to not get caught up in these definitions. At first, I had the idea in my head that he had gotten this idea from Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs, but after the conversation I had went and researched this. It appears to be absent, but under the category of ‘esteem’ achievement was listed. This could potentially be considered as fulfillment.
Not only did I disagree, but I would also argue that this perceived “need” for fulfillment is causing a great deal of suffering among humans. We miserably chase a goal, grind and suffer, in the hopes that this goal will bring us pleasure. When we finally achieve this goal, the satisfaction is fleeting, and we are on to the next. If you do not enjoy the journey of life, then your happiness will always be lying somewhere in the distant future, never to be discovered. The carrot on a stick analogy is useful here. The future is not real. It will never exist and is a complete product of our mind. If you put your happiness, your joy, into the future, you will never be able to access it as you cannot access something that does not exist. You will be mindlessly chasing this “need” until your body and mind begin to decay, and your time ends here in the physical world.