We hear that the key to happiness is to be satisfied with what you have. It’s the time of year when some parents are desperate to get that perfect present. It makes me think about happiness. Will getting the latest toy mean your children will grow up happy and well-adjusted?
I think we all know that the latest toy will likely bring the appearance of happiness to your child. And for a few hours or a few days or maybe a month, they’ll play with the toy and enjoy it. Eventually, they’ll tire of it or something newer will come along.
There is nothing wrong with feeding the need for immediate joy. Life is filled with reasons for delaying gratification. Some reasonable, some not so reasonable. I think we all get that buzz of temporary happiness and don’t need it to continue. The buzz from chocolate is more seductive because it doesn’t last.
Satisfied, the new happiness?
Let’s think about this. If you are satisfied with what you have, I think you will be happy. If you don’t have dreams because you are satisfied, how long with it last?
As humans we are a striving species. It shows in our drive to explore and to change. Realizing our dreams pushes us beyond our comfort zone. A certain amount of dissatisfaction with what we had drove us to the Moon, and Mars.
I think we’re looking for a new aspect of satisfied, than just ‘be happy with what you have”. The TEDtalk by Dan Gilbert talks about the science of happiness. I suggest that wanting more can be a step toward happiness.
Be satisfied and dissatisfied
Yes, if you are only dissatisfied with your lot in life, you won’t be happy. If you can find a way to be satisfied with what you have and still see a place where life can be better, you have a solid base from which to launch yourself toward your dreams.
This is the difference between being satisfied and settling.
Things that don’t usually lead to happiness
This is my list. Go ahead and leave your own list in the comments, or wherever you read this.
- Buying everything your child wants – in my experience it just raises the bar on demands
- Winning the lottery – I think it’s what you do with the money, not that you have it
- Fame – a tricky one. Fame handled well is so rare. I think it’s more about your happiness before you get famous than about the fame
- Marriage – getting married because it’s expected is more likely to get you in the wrong marriage than a happy one
Merry whatever you celebrate – even if it’s a few days off work.