Happy But Never Satisfied – Motivational or Misleading?
Be happy but never satisfied.
This is an expression that I have heard countless times that, while may be a powerful motivator for constant and never-ending improvement, may also can be misleading and dangerous for our mental framework.
If I’m not satisfied then how can my happiness be complete?
To try and be happy but not satisfied is the same as trying to be content or pleased but not happy – they are part of the same whole.
One of our uniting goals as people on this earth is that we all want to find/ obtain fulfillment – in some way, shape, or form.
While that may be different for everyone, to adopt the mindset of never being satisfied is electing to never be fulfilled.
This expression, in my eyes, leads to never-ending desire for more (stuff) and a never-ending feeling of un-fulfillment.
What if I told you that maybe you already have enough stuff?
What if I told you that you don’t need to buy Lacoste, Rolex, and BMW?
What if I told you that happiness and satisfaction are feelings that are available to you right now – presuming your basic needs for survival are being met – and that the only thing preventing you from experiencing these feelings is the choice you’ve made (in your own head) to not be happy/ satisfied until a specific set of circumstances are met.
A specific set of circumstances that you have created based on your experiences and beliefs resulting from the environment through which you have grown.
An environment filled with advertisements on advertisements on advertisements with multi-million dollar companies who are trying to get you to buy more and more and more.
As long as they (the multi-million dollar companies) have you feeling unfulfilled and unsatisfied, you will keep spending your money and chasing that set of circumstances you set (and re-set) for happiness.
And good luck reaching that forever-fleeting finish line…!
It is as Denis Waitley reminds us, “Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn, or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace, and gratitude.”
So what’s the counter-expression then?
How about: Always happy and always satisfied with an intention of continuing to do better each day.
Why always happy and always satisfied?
First off, because life is incredibly short and you have no idea when your time alive is going to come to an end.
You hear it all of the time, but seriously, why would you ever want to die un-happy or un-satisfied?
Happiness and satisfaction are not a finish line… They are a way of being.
Second, when you feel happy and satisfied, you perform better.
Conventional wisdom holds that if we work hard we will be more successful, and if we are more successful, then we’ll be happy – but recent discoveries in the field of positive psychology have shown that this formula is actually backward: Happiness fuels success, not the other way around.
“When we are positive, our brains become more engaged, creative, motivated, energetic, resilient, and productive at work. This isn’t just an empty mantra. This discovery has been repeatedly borne out by rigorous research in psychology and neuroscience, management studies, and the bottom lines of organizations around the globe.” ~ GoodThinkInc.com
You can find out more about, “The Happiness Advantage” from Shawn Achor’s research and publications HERE.
Can you be satisfied and still want to improve each day?
I absolutely think so.
If I’m doing work that I believe in and contributing in a way that I believe is meaningful, then I believe that it is a natural response to want to do more good and have more of an influence.
That’s not me being unsatisfied – it’s me wanted to have a greater influence on the world around me.
For example, if I crossed paths with a homeless person, gave them a meal that they were unable to obtain themselves, connected with them and was influenced by the difference it made in their day – I might want to feed two homeless people the next day – yet still be fully satisfied that I was able to help the one on the first day.
The danger in the thought of it never being enough (never satisfied) – is that your mission can quickly become overwhelming and lead to burn-out and ultimately inaction – the worst choice of all.
It would be the equivalent of thinking I only fed one mouth today and there are around 100 million homeless people around the world  – how is my little action ever going to make any kind of difference.
Ah, but isn’t it the only thing that ever has?
The mastery mindset is that: Today I will make a difference in the world in the best way I am able and tomorrow, after having gained the necessary life experience and insight, I will do the same at an even greater level.
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Reflect: Do you find yourself chasing something in life? What is it that you don’t already have that you really want? Why do you really want it? Could you re-set your circumstances for happiness in a way that requires less and leaves you happy and satisfied more?