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People do an amazing job of talking themselves out of their own happiness. It seems like that as soon as we attain the things that we yearn for, our gaze shifts to the next thing on the horizon.
This constant pursuit of new things, new experiences, new circumstances is an endless treadmill that wears us down until we no longer find the happiness and joy that these things once gave us.
And it doesn’t help that life is difficult. There’s always some terrible thing going on in the world to remind us that we should be more appreciative, doing more, seeking more, trying to find something better in all of this.
Instead, we need to understand why we aren’t satisfied and work to correct that issue.
Let’s look at some of the bigger reasons why you “can’t get no satisfaction” as the Rolling Stones sing.
1. You don’t appreciate what you already have.
Gratitude is a common talking point in the space of self-help and mental health. Wherever you look, it’s all about “gratitude, gratitude, gratitude!”
Yet, it’s strange how few people seem to really explain the benefits of gratitude and how it can shape your life.
Let’s do that now.
Gratitude is all about shifting your perception. A person who is focused on everything they don’t have and what they want is creating discord within. They constantly tell themselves that they aren’t enough, that they need to be more, that they need to work harder. That’s not a healthy narrative to replay over and over in your mind.
To be grateful is to break that narrative. Instead of focusing on everything you don’t have, you focus on the things that you do have, even if it’s not much. Even if your life isn’t the best, or you’ve been through some terrible things. Every day we draw breath is a gift and something to be grateful for because a whole lot of people don’t have that benefit.
It’s much easier to be satisfied with yourself and your life when you focus on what you have. You take yourself off the treadmill of “get more” and the anxiety of the future.
In reality, everything you have today could be gone tomorrow. That’s just the way life goes sometimes.
2. You’re not challenging yourself.
Many people limit themselves through their own fear and anxiety. What is it that you really want? Are you pursuing it? Or are you afraid of pursuing it?
Do you want to launch that business? What if it fails? What if it costs you everything and puts you into debt? What if nothing goes right?
Do you want to build a loving family? Are you putting yourself out there? Allowing yourself to be vulnerable and taking the risks that come with being vulnerable to new people?
Instead of putting the energy into the things that we actually want, we distract ourselves with subpar goals that don’t push our own boundaries.
How are you to be satisfied with your life when you aren’t in tune with that which makes your soul sing?
If you want to be satisfied in life, you have to pursue the things that call out to you.
“But hang on,” I hear you say, “didn’t you just tell me to be grateful for what I have instead of chasing more?”
Yes, but there is a difference between challenging oneself and not being grateful for what you do have.
In fact, setting yourself challenges and practicing gratitude are not mutually exclusive – you can do both at the same time.
It’s all about finding a happy medium between living well within your comfort zone where you might not pursue that which makes you truly happy, and pushing yourself so hard that you don’t enjoy the benefits of your endeavors.
No challenge often means no satisfaction. Likewise, too much focus on the challenge leaves little room for satisfaction.
3. You’re not living in the present.
Things were so much better before! Well, maybe they were, maybe they weren’t. Things will be so much better in the future! Well, maybe.
Life doesn’t always go how we plan. Sometimes we can’t manifest our dreams in the way that we had hoped. Or maybe life just threw you a massive curveball, and you now have to deal with the fallout of something terrible. Illness happens, people die, tragedies abound. And none of us are special enough to avoid that tragedy. It’s all a very normal part of the human experience.
It’s also normal to long for a time when things might have been better, when the world might have been a shinier place, or before that tragic thing happened. The problem is that we don’t have that luxury. It’s as much of a waste of time as longing for a future that we don’t yet have.
Satisfaction with life can only be found in the present moment, so you must live in the present to feel satisfied.
You’re not doing that if you’re longing for a past that’s gone now or a future that may never come. Bring your mind back to the present when you find yourself daydreaming about the future or missing the past.
How can you improve your present? How can you find happiness at this moment, right now? Those are the questions you ought to be asking.
4. You don’t have any goals or desires.
Do you realize how hard it is to be satisfied with life when you don’t even know what you want out of life?
It’s a Catch-22. On the one hand, you want to find satisfaction with your life. On the other hand, you don’t know what will actually make you feel satisfied. Where do you start? What do you do? How do you know what to do?
Want to know the secret? The really secret secret?
It doesn’t matter what you do. The important thing is that you stop wondering, stop thinking, and start doing things.
You can spend years idly wondering and contemplating, and you’ll have absolutely nothing to show for all of that time spent. Compare that to the person who actually dives into the work and starts moving. They will get to where they are going much quicker.
An easy way to find the things that will fulfill you in life is to get out and do things. These experiences teach you what you like, what you don’t like, and expose you to opportunities you may not realize. It also includes other people who you may massively impact or that might open doors for you.
“But what if I make the wrong decision!?”
You will. We all do, sooner or later. Accept it as inevitable. When that happens, be grateful for the experience, and move on to the next thing. That’s as complicated as it needs to be.
Life doesn’t always go how we want it, but we can head in a general direction where we think we might want to end up. And who knows, you may find satisfaction in some remote niche that you had no idea would ever be right for you. Life’s strange like that sometimes.
5. You don’t finish what you start.
Satisfaction often comes from seeing a project or goal through to the end. But some people have a problem with finishing what they started.
Instead, they jump around from one thing to the other, doing little bits here and there, dabbling in various activities or areas of work rather than sticking with one thing for a prolonged period.
You might call it “shiny object syndrome” because as soon as this person starts one thing, their head is turned by some other thing that they imagine will be even better and more enjoyable than the one they have. They always long for the next shiny object, believing that it will be the thing that brings them satisfaction.
What they get instead is a pile of half-finished projects trailing in their wake.
So when you put your mind to something, really go for it. Dive deep into that thing and try it out for a while. See it through to completion and you’ll feel better for it.
It’s a bit like reading half a book before tossing it aside and starting another one. You’ll never feel satisfied not knowing how the story turned out. Get to the end, turn the final page on a project, bask in the warm glow that comes from finishing something.
6. You’re living outside of your means.
Have you ever heard the phrase “lifestyle creep”? Lifestyle creep is a term used to describe an increase in spending habits to match higher income.
That is, when you get that big promotion or finally land that better job, you increase your spending because hey! Now you can afford it! This also accounts for the general spending of money on everyday objects because you have more disposable income. The problem is that this can easily disrupt your life and put you further behind.
The other issue with living outside of your means is using financing to get the things you want. A new car might be fantastic. Owing $30,000 on it is not so great. That’s a years-long commitment of ensuring you must be in a position to be able to make your payments, or else you risk losing the car and bankruptcy.
Another term used to describe this type of thing is “golden handcuffs.” It’s a term often used to describe people who shift from a low earning job or education into a highly paid career. They go out and buy a fancy car, a nice house, new clothes, and now they must maintain that job and high income to maintain it all. They no longer have the option to just dip out of that situation if they don’t want it because they are wrapped up in financial responsibility.
It’s kind of hard to be satisfied with your life when you’re trying to keep all the plates spinning so that they don’t come crashing down around you.
The best solution for this is to develop good money habits, develop a budget (even if it’s a basic one), and live below your means.
Keep a $1000 emergency fund in case your water heater blows up or your car breaks down. Try to save at least 20% of your paycheck. Eat out less. Learn to cook, and you can save a load of money. Sooner or later, life’s going to happen, and you’re going to need that cushion.
Still not sure why you aren’t satisfied with life? Do you want to be? Speak to a counselor today who can walk you through the process. Simply click here to connect with one.
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