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The title sounds like it might be an oxymoron. How can escape and fulfillment be the same topic. We normally escape from painful activities and fulfillment is the result of pleasurable activities. What if we focus our lives on our interests that become passions that fulfill our purpose. Its a direct line from engaging in something we enjoy to reaching flow states which induce our brain to pump dopamine.

Extreme athletes are good examples of engaging in challenging pursuits that give you blissful feelings in the face of dire risk. It sounds like recipe for a madman. Who wants to risk their lives to have blissful feelings? When Dean Cotter describes climbing cliffs without the support of ropes, he says its the feelings hes after, not getting on top.

Its a good distinction. I used to pursue activities thinking success would bring happiness. I was willing to work hard and disregard the suffering because I was working for a prize to be awarded in the future. In our daily work, we are often engaged in suffering because we have survival motives. Yet we could find happiness along the entire path if we were engaged in something we loved.

The difficulty in taking one fork over the other is often fear of what might happen. Young people coming out of college often feel forced to take any work available. They might rationalize that after they get settled, they will begin doing work that is befitting their education and talents. We often get trapped our entire lives waiting for the opening to have fun.

I made a break with my career to step into the chasm of chance. After a life in real estate I wanted something more creative that felt like me.I began designing websites for others and creating my own. I began to enjoy posting on topics that were important to me. This process evolved, but I kept true to engaging in activities that had meaning for me.

The millennials are voting for experiences over possessions. We boomers voted for possessions. We did have an easier time buying houses and living off equity. We also had jobs that paid living wages. In this new era we have the opportunity to reexamine our whole purpose for being here. We can continue to work hard and hope we have fun until we retire. We can decide that enjoyment along the way is a higher priority than riches.

The secret to both is finding work and lives that have meaning and engaging 100% in making the two come together. As machines replace humans in every endeavor, humans have to find purpose in developing their personal interests and sharing. We have to become masters in talents that best suit our skill set. Our personalities will most likely drive us to the kind of work in which we think we could make our best contribution. Having fun and making a contribution is a great definition of fulfillment.

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