In our lives we all have a similar pursuit - We want to be happy. One of the more difficult parts of that is understanding for ourselves what makes us happy, and how much of it we need. No matter who you are or what you do, in this world there is always bigger, faster, stronger, richer, nicer, more successful... You name it. What that means is we need to find the amount that is right for ourselves. In my mind there are two different ways to relate with this, one I’m going to argue is better than the other.
The first way is to pursue satisfaction. On one hand, satisfaction represents fulfillment and a happiness found in meeting expectations, but when you look at the secondary definitions you start to see the full story. To satisfy a request is to do just enough to get the job done. It’s to attain the bare minimum required to consider something complete. When you’re satisfied you got enough of what you want, but it carries this undertone that more is out there that you’re not accessing. There’s a subtle suggestion of complacency in satisfaction.
The second way is to pursue contentment. When you’re content that means you find fulfillment and joy in the way that things are. The difference is your relationship with your ambition. Instead of feeling a yearning for more, and drawing comparisons between how things are and how they can be, you have more presence within your happiness. Your ambition is independent of your current state of happiness and therefore, it plays a healthier role in your life.
It’s tricky because being both content and satisfied means your needs are met, you have enough, but it’s how you think about ‘what is enough?' I encourage you to determine what is enough to make you content or satisfied, but then to know there’s more out there and to not feel complacent. You can be happy and grateful for what you have and ambitious all at the same time, and pursuing contentment over satisfaction in my opinion better supports that. With that in mind, let me leave you with this - When was the last time you thought about what is enough for you in your life?
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