"I can't get no satisfaction
I can't get no satisfaction
'Cause I try and I try and I try and I try
I can't get no, I can't get no"

Do you know this Rolling Stones song? A song that fits in very well with the theme I'm bringing you today: the struggle for satisfaction

First of all: why are we talking about "satisfaction" and not "happiness"? 

It's true that, in our daily lives, we often talk about happiness. We say we're happy, what made us happy or what we need to be happy. We never, or rarely, use the expression "satisfaction with life". 

Although we try to simplify things, the truth is that satisfaction and happiness are not the same thing, and their differences are not so simple to explain. To put it simply: we can think of happiness as something that happens in real time, it's a moment; satisfaction lasts longer, it can be built up over time, it can be prolonged. It refers to a subjective assessment of the contentment (excitement/pleasure or discontent/suffering) that we perceive when we think about various segments of our lives (e.g. family, professional, academic, social).  

What's next? What do you need to achieve full satisfaction? If I asked you, from 0 to 10, how satisfied you are with your life, what would you say?

If I could bet, I'd say that a small percentage (when I say small, I mean very small, almost invisible to our eyes) gave themselves a score of 9 or more. 

"Why do you say that?" you ask.

It pains me to say this, but the truth is that these days it seems that our satisfaction, or our perception of satisfaction, is altered. There are several factors that can contribute to this change. The quality of our relationships, physical and mental health and/or professional success are some aspects of this equation. It should also be noted that each person is unique, so what brings satisfaction to some may not have the same effect on others.

Another element that seems to weigh heavily on the outcome of the life satisfaction equation seems to be the perception that we are only satisfied with our lives when we achieve our goals, that is, we often assume that we will be more satisfied when we achieve a certain goal, such as going to university, finishing a much-desired degree, buying a house, building a family, among others. But does that mean that until then, until we achieve those goals, we're not satisfied with our lives? The truth is no, but we probably depend on it to make us feel better. 

Let's use the example of finishing university. The day we receive our diploma, we feel proud and happy about our achievement. It's something immediate, we feel instant happiness. 

But what about the process up to that point? What was it like? Was it satisfactory or were there costs/losses? 

The truth is that the process of achieving something important to us can also be satisfying, but the focus is always so much on the big goal that we seem to lose awareness of what was necessary to achieve it and whether what was done was congruent with what we believe in and stand for. 

Sometimes, the marathon of goals makes us forget at what cost we achieved them. Returning to the example of completing the degree: we feel happy because we finished the degree. But what was the process like? I may have deprived myself of things I enjoy in order to achieve it, I may have spent less time with my family or friends, suffered from the anxiety of timings, tests and projects, neglected my physical and mental health, slacked off on my diet, stopped exercising, ... So, although I felt momentary happiness when I finished, perhaps I didn't feel as satisfied with my life in the process of achieving it. 

So how can I reach the pinnacle of happiness and satisfaction with my life?

There is no magic recipe for this, but I believe that our goals and values are part of the list of ingredients.

Goals are defined as a project, a behavior, something that we idealize achieving. Values can't be achieved, but they can be respected, and are seen as something we stand for, something that guides us. 

The purpose is for our goals to be achieved in accordance with our values. In this way, if I am "true" to my values, my process of achieving the big goal will probably be more satisfying and, when I reach the big goal, I will feel the well-known happiness.  

So I'll end this article by asking you:

Have we overestimated the importance of achieving our goals, neglecting our values, our health and/or our relationships? Have we devalued satisfaction with our own lives?
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