We don’t use the word Dissatisfaction often. But in our modern society, particularly in ‘western’ culture, we have become so conditioned to it that we may not even be conscious of it. But we are, it seems, eternally dissatisfied.
Our coffee isn’t strong enough, work isn’t engaging enough, our partner isn’t fun enough, our exercise routine isn’t hard enough – we are programmed through our culture to not be 100% gratified with life. It’s perfect for marketing, by the way, because it means that we are always looking for new products, better technology, faster internet. And this can really affect us, our wellbeing, and our ability to love the things that are in our life right now.
Even though I’ve been labelled an optimist in my lifeI constantly feel these things. I am always searching for new jobs, better opportunities. I am often seeking new ‘diets’ to try, or thinking that my husband could be just that little bit ‘better.’ I’m ashamed to admit that even as I drove home today, radio on, I was checking instagram!! And this behaviour comes about even when I am engaged at work, when I’m feeling healthy, and despite me being happy in my relationship. So why do I think I need something better?
Society seems to have eroded our ability to be satiated in everything and anything. And the ironic thing is that we crave being satisfied, which is why we are on a constant quest for satisfaction and gratification. So why does this never seem to satisfy us?
Particularly in choosing a career, this dissatisfaction can cloud our ability to make a confident decision in our ability and gifts, as well as our interests. After several years in my career, I am still questioning whether it is right for me, whether I would be suited to something better – that, by the way, might make me more money and have a better work/balance (For more on the ‘Quarter-Life Crisis’ see an interesting perspective here). Maybe THAT career, or uni course, or even man OVER THERE is really what I would need to feel satisfied.
This ‘crisis’ affects everyone, but particularly women in their 20s, 30s and even 40s. Because arguably, women have more to think about than just climbing the corporate ladder – they want, as many commentators say, ‘it all’. Not only are we trying to fight a culture that is telling us that the grass is always greener, we are fighting a culture that is telling us to feel guilty for whatever choice we make. If you choose family – you’re not ambitious enough. Choose Work – you’re selfish. Take time for personal Development/Hobbies – you’re wasting your time/money/resources. (See can interesting forbes.com interesting article which discusses ‘having it all’ here). We are meant to love those things we love, and be happy with them. To be satisfied and satiated with the wonderful things of life, with our achievements. So how do we do this? Here’s how:
- Enjoy the things you love. Really enjoy them. Try to eat food at the table with no TV. Enjoy cuddling in bed without any distraction. Really concentrate when you are learning something about your passion. Listen to people. Laugh.
- Avoid Distractions. (I know, it’s so hard sometimes!!) Be mindful of being ‘present’. What you focus on is where your energy is – and being distracted will lead to seeking things that are more satisfying and alas, probably making us disappointed than if you had stayed focused!
- Set goals. And be satisfied – be proud of yourself – with when you achieve them. Got into a course? Got a new job? Bought a house? Got pregnant? Got healthy? Celebrate!
- Be around good people. Make sure the relational influences in your life are helping to inspire you to keep you focused on your vision, support you through the crises, and help you to enjoy the things you love.
- Don’t compare yourself to others. Our selfie-saturated culture means that we compare our every day lives with other peoples ‘highlight reel’. This isn’t reality. Just because people don’t post pictures or status updates of dirty dishes, crying babies, a stressful day at work, or an argument with the partner, it doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen!
- Find reality within your dreams. Know that you’re not meant to be satisfied all the time (kind of ironic, huh?). Sometimes we need to work hard when we don’t want to. Sometimes life it’s not always going to be fun, or easy. But make sure you keep sight of the goal-line – if you’re not happy because you are not living out your vision, then there’s probably something wrong. But if you’re stressed sometimes because your making your dreams a reality – then sometimes this is just the reality. But the great thing about the latter is that you are working towards something so much bigger!
- Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Don’t be discouraged if you have an off-week and you don’t do any of the above. Work gets busy. People keep you busy. We get sick. Things get hectic – but always come back to loving the things you love. Because you are worth making that effort.
And, as Winston Churchill said in one of my favourite quotes:
‘Never, never, never give up.’
Find rest in the fact that are you committing to yourself and your dreams. You are achieving in the path that you are on. Sure, this path might change – but be satisfied in what you are achieving right NOW. Not when you get that degree, acquire that perfect guy, start that brilliant business, or score that desired job – but NOW. And there, be satisfied in all you have achieved.