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The Negation of Success and Satisfaction
Success and satisfaction is never really linear to begin with...
An acquaintance of mine sat down in front of me after wanting to talk over coffee. I heard that he was securing a great position in his job – in fact, I know that he was trying to secure the position for years: working day and night for his dream to fall into his lap. However, he came to me, feeling sullen. I was waiting to say congratulations, only to hear him say: “I didn’t like what I have.”
“Are you feeling ungrateful?”
“No. I am grateful. But, I do not find the level of happiness that I thought I would have.”
“Are you satisfied?”
The general idea of satisfaction is found when there is success nearby. It always seems that the criteria of satisfaction is linear to success. But in the sense of truth, acquiring success would interchange with acquiring money, fame, professional successes, or even prestige, creating a fuel to lean towards our obsession. From there, we had biological help. The designed motivation to rush into our goals led into a rewarding pleasure during the chase. This is particularly active in the neurotransmitter dopamine. Due to the fleeting emotion, our brain seeks equilibrium from the intense emotional experience.
As a result, we are left with a hollow desire to relive whatever experience gave us that pleasure in the first place. This allegedly addicting cycle completely destabilizes the known system within our body, making it impossible for us to determine whether or not what we've accomplished is, in fact, gratifying.
Because of this, even though the majority of us intuitively understand that pleasure cannot be attained through the pursuit of wealth, position, or fame, we can't help but keep trying.
Then, how do you navigate through it?
You navigate through it by: Assessing, Recalibrating, Shifting.
First phase: Assessing.
Pause whatever activity that you need to do, take a moment to assess your personal relationship with tangible and/or intangible humane aspects. How much fame do I seek? Is this much work for me? Why is this not working for me? What will coexist with that much desired fame? Through this reflection, you will find the root causes of your dissatisfaction and be able to correct which attributes disrupt your level of satisfaction.
For example, the question for people that chase money would fall into “What meaning have I attached to money?” If the meaning has shifted into defining your self-worth, then you’ve lost track of the definite value of money.
By assessing your relationship with these attributes, you will be able to exit the phase and move into the next step: Recalibrating.
Recalibrating the attributes that motivated your level of satisfaction can help break down the causes of the frequent dissatisfaction experiences. If you do not reevaluate your relationship with satisfaction, you will find yourself in a more difficult position to feel satisfied. Establishing healthy and realistic measurement tools to define satisfaction and success can help create healthy boundaries to human aspects that most humans associate with achievement.
After calibrating the measurements tools, we would finally be able to take a measurable action to fix the overt attachment to success in defining your self worth. The solution would start with shifting the mindset.
Psychologists found that social comparison became one of the used tools to measure the success criteria, leading into depression and emptiness. Can you be kind to yourself for making even small progress rather than criticizing yourself for what you haven't accomplished or feeling jealous of others for what they have? And are you able to sympathize with your alleged opponent for doing whatever it required to succeed where they did? A more sympathetic response to feelings of jealousy is appreciation – for the opportunity to do the work you do, for the rewarding experiences you've had doing it, and even for the painful setbacks that have improved you.
Thus, shifting your mindset into compassion against yourself is the best way to help align your values with satisfaction. There will always be negation between success and satisfaction if you have unhealthy measurement tools to lead you on. So, how many unsatisfying experiences are you going to have due to unsustainable success criteria?
Wouldn’t it be better to create long-lasting moments of satisfaction?
Based on Ron Carucci’s Why Success Doesn’t Lead to Satisfaction
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