I recently stumbled on one of my self-sabotaging habits that I need to shift. I’m not proud of this habit. Until it came into my awareness, I didn’t even know how much it was affecting me. Now that I see it, I can’t un-see it. This habit can best be summed up by the Rolling Stone lyrics: “I can’t get no satisfaction.”
Let me explain.
I am a fit, healthy woman with a Ph.D. I live in a beautiful city. I have a career I genuinely like. I’m surrounded by fun-loving friends and travel frequently to exotic places. And yet, I manage to be “disappointed” on a daily basis. WTF.
For example, I start a work project. I’m super excited. I put a lot of time, energy and creativity into it. I dream of fame and fortune. I visualize massive success. The project launches. It’s more of a fizzle than a tsunami. It gets attention but not as much as I wanted. It makes money but not as much as I thought it should. I pout. I criticize myself and curse the Universe. I feel despondent and disappointed. I dream of quitting and running away.
This recently happened to me in New York. I spent two months planning an event. I wanted 40 people to attend. I promoted the sh*t out of it. Lot’s of people were “interested” but few would to commit to buying tickets. It was cold and raining on the day of the event – 10 people showed up. We had a great experience. I could have been ecstatic – instead, my friends had to “convince” me that I wasn't a failure and fraud.
This is not an isolated experience. I do this with relationships, with fitness, with just about anything I get my hands on. Why? Why would I set unrealistic expectations and beat myself up when I don’t reach them? Why would I compare myself to others who do it bigger, better, faster? Why would I choose to be disappointed instead of satisfied?
Turns out that I am not alone.
There is chronic discontent in our culture. We are the fattest and sickest people on the planet. One in 6 Americans take antidepressants. Over 20 million Americans have an addiction. More than two-thirds of American adults are considered to be overweight or obese.
Social media is fueling the fire. The volume and frequency of apparent perfection portrayed on platforms such as Facebook and Instagram looks so glamorous that we seem unable to accept that what we see is a show and not representative of daily reality. More and more of my clients tell me that they regret how their life isn’t perfect in the way that they think it should be.
Yes, this sounds like doom and gloom but I do believe there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Satisfaction is a choice. We talk about happiness a lot but we don’t talk about satisfaction. When was the last time that you felt satisfied? After a delicious meal? A day at the beach? How long did that satisfaction last? A couple hours? A few days?
What if you chose to be satisfied in each and every moment instead of saving it until you eat those tacos or drink that wine? What if you celebrated the one new client instead of complaining about the one who got away? What if you appreciated the love that you had instead of bitching about the loss of it? I believe that you would create momentum of satisfaction. I believe that one good thing would lead to another until you couldn’t find a single thing to complain about.
I recently had an experience like this. I was doing a morning beach workout with my friends. The weather was perfect – hot but not too hot. We jumped in the water in between exercises, it was cold but not too cold. We showered, sat in the sauna and then ate a delicious lunch by the pool. We laughed and talked and exchanged life stories. As the hours flew by, I couldn’t find a single thing to complain about. I kept thinking: “Today is just perfect!”
It may sound cliché, but everyday can be perfect. You’re breathing, right? You have a roof over your head. You’re reading this blog post on a laptop or smart phone – you have more privilege, more resources, more opportunities than 99% of the world. If I had to guess, you probably also have a sh*t ton of accomplishments. You probably graduated from college or raised kids or ran a marathon or did other cool things. You could be satisfied if you wanted to. But you probably choose otherwise – like I often do.
I think we need to shift into radical satisfaction. Satisfaction that pervades every aspect of our being. Satisfaction that is so sweet that the Rolling Stones would have to write a new song about it (something like You Sexy Thing by Hot Chocolate). When having it all isn’t’ enough, we need to STOP, pat ourselves on the back, and say: I do a good job, I have a good life and I’m satisfied, goddammit. If we do that enough times, we will finally believe that it’s true.