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How to Live a Fulfilling Life

Discover the fulfillment that is hiding in the ordinary, yet precious, moments of your day.

How to get the most out of these Wisdom Quotes:

  1. Put aside everything you think you already know.

  2. Open your mind and heart to receive something new.

  3. Take your time going through each point.

  4. Return to any points that particularly touch you.

  5. In the coming days, listen carefully to the wisdom within you.

*All quotes by Thich Nhat Hanh - sources listed where known

1. Keep Your Appointment With Life

Thich Nhat Hanh Quote

“We are very good at preparing to live, but not very good at living. We know how to sacrifice ten years for a diploma, and we are willing to work very hard to get a job, a car, a house, and so on. But we have difficulty remembering that we are alive in the present moment, the only moment there is for us to be alive.”

~Thich Nhat Hanh, Peace is Every Step


"Do not lose yourself in the past. Do not lose yourself in the future. Do not get caught in your anger, worries, or fears. Come back to the present moment, and touch life deeply."

~Thich Nhat Hanh, The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching


"You have an appointment with life, an appointment that is in the here and now."


Did you know that you have an appointment with life?

  1. Are you too busy and distracted to keep that appointment? Is there always so much to do, so many things demanding your attention? Or perhaps you're not that busy, but you're still missing your appointment because your mind is keeping you away.

  2. In order to live life fully and touch life deeply, you're invited to keep your appointment with life by returning to the present moment. This is where life is actually happening. This is where you can experience the miracle of being alive.

  3. This appointment is actually a beautiful invitation to come out of everything else, back to this moment right now. Nothing is more important than this moment. It's the only place to find fulfillment.

2. Smile When You Wake Up

Thich Nhat Hanh Quote

“Waking up this morning, I smile. Twenty-four brand new hours are before me. I vow to live fully in each moment and to look at all beings with eyes of compassion.”


“Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.”


“Recently I was sitting with a group of children, and a boy named Tim was smiling beautifully. I said, “Tim, you have a very beautiful smile,” and he said, “Thank you.”

I told him, “You don’t have to thank me, I have to thank you. Because of your smile, you make life more beautiful. Instead of saying, ‘Thank you,’ you could say, ‘You’re welcome.’"

If a child smiles, if an adult smiles, that is very important. If in our daily life we can smile, if we can be peaceful and happy, not only we, but everyone will profit from it. This is the most basic kind of peace work."

~Thich Nhat Hanh, Being Peace


"When you're smiling, the whole world smiles with you." ~Louis Armstrong/Frank Sinatra

  1. Smiling is one of those things that we don't realize the importance of. Yet, here, we see that it's not just something nice to do. It actually makes the world a more beautiful place.

  2. Take a moment to consider how your smile makes life more beautiful - not only for you but for everyone you interact with. No, really, don't shrug this off. It's important. Your smile is beautiful and important.

  3. Have you tried smiling as soon as you wake up? There's a lot of talk about fostering an attitude of gratitude, but what about just realizing, as soon as you wake up, that you've been given the gift of living another day? A new day to practice living fully and finding fulfillment in the ordinary, yet precious, moments of your day.

3. Find Your Anchor

Thich Nhat Hanh Quote

"To meditate with mindful breathing is to bring body and mind back to the present moment so that you do not miss your appointment with life."

~Thich Nhat Hanh, Fear: Essential Wisdom for Getting Through the Storm


“Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor.”

~Thich Nhat Hanh, Stepping into Freedom


“Breath is the bridge which connects life to consciousness, which unites your body to your thoughts. Whenever your mind becomes scattered, use your breath as the means to take hold of your mind again.”

~Thich Nhat Hanh, The Miracle of Mindfulness


“Breathing in, I calm body and mind. Breathing out, I smile. Dwelling in the present moment I know this is the only moment.”

~Thich Nhat Hanh, Being Peace


Breathing is a most underrated activity. When you consider all the things that top the list for fulfillment, you don't expect to find breathing there. And yet, breathing is arguably the fastest way to fulfillment.

When you take a conscious breath you:

  • keep your appointment with life

  • calm a mind that is out of control

  • relax your body

  • realign with the present moment

Perhaps true fulfillment is much simpler than we've been led to believe...

4. Walk This Way

Thich Nhat Hanh Quote

“When we walk like we are rushing, we print anxiety and sorrow on the earth. We have to walk in a way that we only print peace and serenity on the earth.

Be aware of the contact between your feet and the earth. Walk as if you are kissing the earth with your feet.”


“The mind can go in a thousand directions, but on this beautiful path, I walk in peace. With each step, the wind blows. With each step, a flower blooms.”


"The earth is so beautiful. We are beautiful also. We can allow ourselves to walk mindfully, touching the earth, our wonderful mother, with each step.

We don't need to wish our friends, 'Peace be with you.' Peace is already with them. We only need to help them cultivate the habit of touching peace in each moment."


“Smile, breathe and go slowly.”


Walking is something we do every day, from the moment we get up out of bed. Bring consciousness into your walking.

  1. Notice that your feet are touching the ground, that the earth is supporting you and that gravity is keeping you grounded.

  2. Become aware of your movements. You can do this even as you walk across the room. Move slowly and consciously.

  3. Notice any thoughts, such as: "I don't have time for this. I have difficulty slowing down. I keep forgetting to move consciously. I'm just no good at this." Allow these thoughts to come and go. Don't give them your attention by believing them or arguing with them.

Whenever you remember, simply smile, breathe, and go slowly about your day. When you rush through life, you miss all sorts of treasures that are hiding in the present moment.

5. Enjoy the Aroma of Life

Thich Nhat Nanh Quote

“Tea is an act complete in its simplicity. When I drink tea, there is only me and the tea. The rest of the world dissolves. There are no worries about the future. No dwelling on past mistakes.

Tea is simple: loose-leaf tea, hot pure water, a cup. I inhale the cent, tiny delicate pieces of the tea floating above the cup. I drink the tea, the essence of the leaves becoming a part of me. I am informed by the tea, changed.

This is the act of life, in one pure moment, and in this act the truth of the world suddenly becomes revealed: all the complexity, pain, drama of life is a pretense, invented in our minds for no good purpose.

There is only the tea, and me, converging.”


“Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the world earth revolves - slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future.”


“You must be completely awake in the present to enjoy the tea. Only in the awareness of the present, can your hands feel the pleasant warmth of the cup. Only in the present, can you savor the aroma, taste the sweetness, appreciate the delicacy.

If you are ruminating about the past, or worrying about the future, you will completely miss the experience of enjoying the cup of tea. You will look down at the cup, and the tea will be gone.

Life is like that. If you are not fully present, you will look around and it will be gone. You will have missed the feel, the aroma, the delicacy and beauty of life. It will seem to be speeding past you.

The past is finished. Learn from it and let it go. The future is not even here yet. Plan for it, but do not waste your time worrying about it. Worrying is worthless.

When you stop ruminating about what has already happened, when you stop worrying about what might never happen, then you will be in the present moment. Then you will begin to experience joy in life.”


Whether you're drinking a cup of tea or coffee or a glass of water, you can bring consciousness to this moment of drinking.

  1. Make it a time of returning to the present moment, coming out of your busy, drama-filled mind, and tasting the sweetness of life as it's unfolding right now.

  2. With every sip, drink in peace, drink in joy, drink in life itself. You can also take a deep breath and smile, knowing that you have slowed down to the pace of life.

  3. If you allow yourself to do this every time you remember, you may be surprised to discover a deep feeling of contentment and fulfillment in your being.

6. Be Attentive

Thich Nhat Hanh Quote

"The present moment is filled with joy and happiness. If you are attentive, you will see it.”

~Thich Nhat Hanh, Peace Is Every Step


“Each moment is a chance for us to make peace with the world, to make peace possible for the world, to make happiness possible for the world.”

~Thich Nhat Hanh, Teachings on Love


“At any moment, you have a choice, that either leads you closer to your spirit or further away from it.”


“If you touch one thing with deep awareness, you touch everything.”


“There is no enlightenment outside of daily life.”


Today is filled with opportunities and possibilities. Everything you can see, hear, taste, smell and touch is inviting you to become present with it. And in that simple act of returning to presence, you will always find your true self, because you and the present moment are inseparable.

With this understanding, all that remains is to respond to life as it unfolds. Gradually learn to do everything in awareness, consciously - not mechanically and absent-mindedly.

But in all your doing, let there also be plenty of moments when there is nothing to do. Give yourself the gift of an unhurried life, give others the gift of your undivided attention, and give the world the gift of one more peaceful, joyful soul.

7. Smile - Breathe - Walk - Drink

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