Satisfaction. Look it up on Google, as I did, and the Rolling Stones come first. Then:
satisfaction sat·is·fac·tion (sāt’ĭs-fāk’shən) n. The fulfillment or gratification of a desire, a need, or an appetite. The pleasure or contentment that is derived from such gratification.
Seems clear enough: we have desires and needs, and when we’ve gratified them we feel satisfaction, pleasure or contentment. Here in the USA we’re gratifying needs, desires, pressures, and impulses, left and right. So why are we so disgruntled with our fancy, shiny lives? Why can’t we get no satisfaction?
My theory revolves around advertising and capitalism. The carrot of shiny consumer goods from every medium lures us into the marketplace, where we get beaten up chasing the lifestyle we should want. It turns out we aren’t all happy with three cars (including the pickup), snowmobiles, designer jeans, boats, a nose job, meals out, and shiny, shiny stuff.
Many of these purchases appear to be externally induced, not really coming from our own lives. When we stop to consider whether Item A really
1) enhances our life;
2) is realistic to add to our current possessions / obligations;
3) has a cost-benefit ratio appropriate to our lifestyle;
4) leads to further unexplored investment;
5) will last the length of our enthusiasm and beyond;
we may find the burdens involved preclude satisfaction.
I went to see Bethann after her hip surgery and she showed me her stash. It was colorful – a box of hats, scarves and mittens she’d knitted for small people. Gary told me she’s made hundreds of garments for Toys for Tots. Both of them beamed with satisfaction as they considered the fruits of her occupation. She is living her heart’s mandate to help the world be a better place.
Our working lives often do not resonate with the lives we strive to build at home in our “spare” time. Our employment can even contradict values we honor at some level. The satisfaction involved is in the form of a paycheck. And of course there is satisfaction in paying the bills that allow us all to make it from week to week. Providing for myself and my family brings that first satisfaction of the definition above, without really giving me the pleasure and contentment described in the second part.
Pleasure and contentment seem to come from two things for me: accomplishments and interactions.
When I complete a task, it gives me a momentary pleasure. When I look at something I’ve created, it gives me a recurrent pleasure. When I interact in a positive way with the world, I glow with pleasure and contentment.
I’m a firm believer in Love as a verb. When I don’t love something enough, I don’t feel like doing it, but as I do it, I grow to love it more. It begins to give back, enriching my life in ways I hadn’t envisioned at the start. So it seems for me with such dull things as cleaning a kitchen counter that’s been an issue for years. Connecting with and honoring those mundane pieces of my life so I can analyze how to incorporate them smoothly brings a pleasure of its own. And when the project is creative – knitting, writing, quilting – the delight is magnified by the manifestation of an idea.
Relationships with my ‘chothers*, interacting with my community, and creating places to give to the larger community, all induce the glow of pleasure and the warmth of contentment. From serving at the Community Thanksgiving Dinner to planting petunias and from Brownie Troops to babysitting, it’s all good.
So – if you’re having a lack of satisfaction in your life, add some verbs. DO something. VISIT someone. DONATE time to something you believe in. FILL your idle hands with something non-electronic.
And then, enjoy a little satisfaction. May it be so for us all!
* A brilliant word coined by my niece from the phrase “We love each other.” Happy Belated Birthday, Liberty!
TAKE IT BACK by Kathryn W Morski
Mama hanging laundry in the wind and sunshine.
Daddy built a barn and a house in a tree.
Kids playing baseball, or reading, or fishing –
That’s the way I always thought it would be.
Traded in the clothesline for electric dryer.
Traded in the Chevy for a brand new van.
Traded for an uptown life and a paycheck.
Going so much faster than we think we can!
Take it back! Take it back! Take it back a step.
You might not fall, but you’re bound to slip.
Take it back!
Slow it down!
Take it back!
We used to move to a daily rhythm –
only so much that a body can do –
Working from sunrise until sundown.
Electric means you can work all night, too;
Working so the kids can learn French and music;
working for the country and the cause and the store;
Working to keep our heads above water;
working till we just can work no more!
Take it back…
Remember when summer meant more than day care,
Time spent driving from the lessons to the game?
Remember those golden days we shared?
Quality time just doesn’t feel the same!
Chasing after something that you never question
leads you to some places you don’t want to go.
There’s not much difference in the final outcome
between “Follow the flock” and “Go with the flow”.
He who dies with the most, best playthings
still is dead in the longer view.
If you’re tired of trading your life time for money,
you can trade back, keep some time for you!
Take it back…