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How to Become Fulfilled

How to Become Fulfilled

The following is a very interesting talk from Simon Sinek. He talks about how fulfillment comes from helping others. Whatever area of life you feel you are unsatisfied with, ask yourself how you can help those around you.

Your brain functions on neurotransmitters. These chemicals are responsible for your happiness and well being.

  • Endorphin (Released under physical strain. The runners high.)
  • Dopamine (Released when you achieve a goal or accomplish a task.)
  • Serotonin (Responsible for pride and status. Establishes relationships and alpha hierarchy.)
  • Oxytocin (Responsible for love, trust, the feeling someone has your back.)

Biology wired us all to be social animals. Back when we were hunter and gathers living in social groups of 100 to 150 people, we need each other to survive. You had to count on your neighbor to wake and warn you of danger while you slept. Otherwise you would not be able to sleep as each individual would be responsible for his own safety.  The groups who produced these neurotransmitters cooperated survived and thrived.  These are the genes you inherited.

Oxytocin is the neurotransmitter you get for helping someone or doing a good deed. It strengthens the bonds within a social group. It helped us build trust and empathy. Serotonin is responsible for pride and status. It helps us build social relationships, like boss and employer or coach and player.

These two chemicals play a major role in your happiness and well being. If you want to be fulfilled, you need to serve others.

Oxytocin and serotonin are the more powerful social neurotransmitters.  Dopamine is the addiction chemical.  Alcoholics get the pleasure from dopamine.  The highly successful Alcoholic Anonymous program is a twelve step program.  If you complete eleven of the twelve steps, but not the last step you will likely relapse.  If you complete the final step, you are are likely to beat the disease.  What is the last step?  It is coaching another alcoholic.  Volunteering to do a service for someone else.  Oxytocin and serotonin win out over dopamine.

You may recognize the names of these chemicals.  Many anti-depressant drugs on the market attempt to increase levels serotonin or dopamine in the brain.  The drugs are attempting to increase the feelings you should be getting from beneficial social interaction.


Simon speaks of the military hero Johnny Bravo in the first few minutes of the video.  It’s a story of a pilot who risks his live to save troops on the ground.  Simon meets Johnny and asks him why he risked his life.  It’s a similar answer that most military heroes give.  Johnny says he did for those troops because they would have done for him.

The military does an exceptional job at instilling serotonin and oxytocin based bonds among servicemen.  Every enlisted man knows his fellow soldiers will not leave him behind.  He is then willing to risk life and limb to make sure no one else is left behind.

Imagine you worked at place where the number one concern is the well being of your fellow employees.  It would be easy to get up for that job each morning.

The Deadliest Catch

Simon shares some examples. He talks about an episode of the TV show Deadliest Catch. The crab fishing boats go out in competition with each other to catch crabs. It’s basic capitalism where they compete for crabs.

This one episode has a terrible accident where a fisherman was washed overboard into the Bering sea. This is an extremely dangerous situation because the water is so cold that hypothermia will kill a person in 90 seconds.

The other boat with the camera crew who witnessed the accident immediately turned toward the man in an attempt to rescue him. They reached him, pulled him out of the water, got him wrapped in blankets and saved his life.

The man was a stranger. He was from another boat that moments before would have simply been a competitor.

Everyone on the boat that saved a mans life went home fulfilled. It was more meaningful then the biggest crab catch or highest paycheck they received.

The Please Help Sign

Another  example is a homeless person asking for money on the street. She had a sign that is typical. I am homeless, I am hungry, I have children, I am a veteran, please help. She would get $20 to $30 a day for her effort.

Simon realized that giving money to a homeless person is a transaction. You pay money for a feeling of good will. But her sign was “me” oriented. So Simon changed her sign to read the following

If you only give once a month please think of me next time.

The sign addressed two big reasons people don’t always give. One, I can’t give to everyone. And two, how do I know she really needs it. The new sign addressed both of those concerns. The homeless person made $40 in 2 hours. She had changed her sign to make it about the giver, not herself.


Simon also relates a personal experience.  But just not in the videos above.  Simon traveled to Afghanistan with the U.S. Military.  He ended up stranded on a forward operating base with no idea when he would be able to leave.  Worry, fear and frustration we the natural responses to this situation.  Simon found himself dwelling on thoughts of me, me, me.

He made a decision that since he was stuck, he would volunteer to help in any way he could.  Carrying boxes, sweeping the floor or any tasks that needed done.  He realized that when he made that decision to help the worry and fear vanished.


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