The original version of this article first appeared on Terrie Upshur-Lupberger’s blog on The Huffington Post; it has been edited for length.
Are you satisfied?
If you didn’t answer yes, don’t dismay. For the most part, we human beings don’t do “satisfied” very well. Soon after we get the thing we wanted, we start wanting something else in order for life to turn out just right.
I’ve asked that simple question in my work at least 1,000 times over the last 10+ years. Few people have ever answered yes. If they said yes it usually came with a “but:”
“Yes, but I’m really overqualified for the work I do.”
“Yes, but I’m really disappointed in my company’s performance this quarter.”
“Yes, but my daughter got a C on her final and may not get into the college she wants.”
You get the point.
I can’t get no satisfaction
It seems that our inability to be satisfied is also accompanied by a pervasive story that we aren’t enough, don’t have enough or haven’t done enough. Our “not-enough” thinking is accompanied by feelings of resentment, inadequacy, anxiety, even fear – and those feelings drive us to over-consume, over-work, over-criticize, and overlook today in favor of a better tomorrow.
At a minimum, we are most certainly affected by the daily deluge of messages from a multitude of sources that tell us “this” isn’t it, that we need something else, something more to be happy. We need a better skill, car, house, partner, wardrobe, job, grade, ROI. We need to be a better lover, spouse, leader, parent, student, manager. We need a fill-in-the-blank to feel good about ourselves.
Maybe we can’t be satisfied because we don’t talk about it in our culture, corporations, governments, or educational systems. In the absence of good conversations that help us examine the very beliefs we live and lead from, we aren’t able to see or challenge those insidious messages we get from every corner of life.
Whatever the reason, our want for more and inability to declare satisfaction is a habit embedded into the very fabric of our daily living.
The good news is we know from experience that changing our habits is possible. We may not be able to eliminate the constant reminders that we should be, do and have more, but we can change what we do with those messages and how we think about them. With awareness and practice we can embody new habits that replace striving with satisfaction and the not-enough story with an enough-for-now story.
So, in the spirit of learning to live a more satisfied life, I offer three ways to begin practicing.
1. Start working on your own definition of satisfaction
The origin of the word satisfaction comes from the Latin words satis, which means enough, and facere, which means to perform or do. Satisfaction can be loosely translated to mean “enough action.” Some good questions to seriously reflect upon include:
- What’s enough action at work?
- What’s enough promotion?
- What’s enough house?
- What’s enough car?
- What’s enough money in the bank?
- To what standards do you want to live?
Take the time to seriously create your own definition of a life well-lived.
2. Stop comparing
Comparing is the biggest enemy of being satisfied. If you do nothing else, pay attention to how often you compare and judge yourself against others and decide what to do with those thoughts.
3. Practice saying (and meaning), “I’m satisfied”
How do you know you’re satisfied? Because you say so – out loud! Declare to yourself or to others that, for now, in this moment, this effort is enough, you are enough, you have enough.
This declaration doesn’t mean that you’ll stop trying to design a meaningful future for yourself and others. It does mean, however, that the place you design from will be one of peace and wholeness as opposed to one of scarcity, fear, envy or exhaustion.
With awareness and practice, you can learn to dance to your own tune and drown out the message that you’re missing something. Remember: In this moment, you are enough.
We will cover this topic and much, much more during our two-day retreat in September, Executive Circle for Women Who Lead. Learn more about this life-changing event here.