Interview With Frank Martela

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Frank Martela, PhD is one of Fulfillment Daily’s talented science journalists. A positive psychologist from Finland, Frank specializes in questions of motivation, caring, compassion, and meaning in life. Here he shares with us his secrets to a fulfilled life.

What 3 things or experiences bring you the greatest sense of fulfillment in life?

  • Moments of real connection with another human being. Feeling that in this moment I see you and you see me as we really are. Devoid of pretense and the usual professional masks, as two human beings. These are moments of deep mutuality and care. Sometimes I feel that if there is sacredness to be found in life, it is found between two people.
  • The moments of enlightenment when I grasp something new. ”Wow, I never thought like that but now it makes complete sense!” It can happen while reading, in a conversation, or when writing. Something that was messy and unfathomable suddenly becomes crystal clear and obvious. These are really powerful moments that makes me yearn for more. I guess it is fair to say that I am some kind of addict, as regards these moments.
  • Seeing that something that I have thought up has made a difference. When someone comes to say that an idea I have given them has had an impact in their lives. When I see that I am able to give something to people through my work. When I feel that what I do can matter; can help other people to better live the life that they want to live. That’s what makes my life meaningful.

What are small things you do everyday to be happy/fulfilled?

For both my productivity and happiness, small power naps are the key. Fifteen minutes of complete relaxation at 1 PM makes a total difference to what I can accomplish in the afternoon. I am not only much more productive, I also enjoy my work much more.

People often find they don’t have enough time. How do you make time for those?

Eliminate clutter. I am very jealous about my time and avoid committing to anything that doesn’t either move my projects forward or involve a chance to really connect with another human being. For this, one needs to know what one wants. The more clearly I see what my goals are, the easier it is to know what to say no to.

What health habits do you stick to no matter what?

I am a philosopher. I live in the mind :-) Seriously, I don’t think I have too many conscious health habits. I like team sports and get enough exercise through them. I try to make healthy ways of living into fun ways of living because I don’t like forcing myself to do things. I aim to do intrinsically motivating things in life, and that also applies to my health habits.

What’s your best relationship tip?

Benefit of doubt. Whatever your partner says, no matter how crazy or upsetting it sounds, try to see it from their perspective. What makes them say so? What are the assumptions, emotions and beliefs behind the words? When you really understand the other, you end up fighting much less.

You seem to balance both happiness and success? What’s your secret to happy productivity?

Love what you are doing. It is as simple as that. Pushing yourself to succeed in something you don’t really love is stressful and doesn’t bring satisfaction. So first find what you love doing. Then start the systematical work to be good at that. When you really love it, it never feels like work anyways.

What – in your opinion – is the best way to spread happiness and fulfillment to others?

Stop talking about ’happiness’ and instead talk about meaning and fulfillment. Because pursuing happiness tends to make us unhappy. But when we concentrate on doing meaningful things in life, we become happy as a side effect. Happiness is what happens to us when we are busy doing meaningful things.

What is a quote you live by?

“This is the true joy in life, being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one. Being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances, complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.” – George Bernard Shaw

Check out Frank Martela’s awesome articles here.

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