Evaluating your life: Are you satisfied?


If you are in the Eastern part of of the US, you probably got an opportunity to feel some warmth, shed some layers, and see small signs of Spring. Its hard not to feel just a little less dismal about life. So, in honor of impending Spring, I’m going to post a few times this week about the continuous evaluations we make about life and their impact on our experience and feelings about said life.

Are you satisfied?

Just how would you go about answering that question? The very idea of satisfaction brings up many questions. What does satisfaction look and feel like? How does it differ from peace, hope, joy, contentment, etc.? Is it a feeling? A conclusion? What areas of life are we talking about?

Despite these many questions, part of the curse of living in Western culture is that we are taught to obsessively evaluate our lives and question if we are getting all that is available to us. (I’ve written in the past about tendency for individuals in my program to rate their optimism high but their happiness low–a sign of discontentment but hope for the future).

Of course, repeated evaluations generally lead to a sense of missing out on some important part of life (isn’t that what advertising is all about?)

What lack do you use to evaluate your life?

Most of us know we lack something that many others have. We may indeed have many good things–things that others would grab in a heartbeat. But those things we take for granted while we ruminate on what we wish for. “If only I had…then I would be able to…”

What is on your list? Home ownership? Education? Sex? Being pursued by someone? Children? Successful career? How does the lack you perceive you have shape your sense of life satisfaction? What does it cause you to ignore (or diminish) in your life that is blessing you?

Changing the criteria

If you have ever travelled to a part of the world where it is obvious that you are wealthy in comparison, you know that such an experience immediately changes your focus and evaluation. You see immense blessings. You feel guilty for spending 3 bucks on a coffee when someone in front of you hasn’t eaten for 3 days.

So, what might you use this week to change your focus? How might you look more at what you have rather than put your hopes in what you do not have but want so very much? How is God sustaining and enriching your life even though a desire you have (quite possibly a very holy desire) has not been satisfied?

Concluding thought

Satisfaction is not some higher plane of life; a nirvana. It happens in fleeting moments. We live with unmet desire but also with opportunities for pleasure and contentment. Challenge yourself to notice satisfying moments and take pleasure in them by engaging in thankful meditation.

2 Comments

Filed under christian psychology, Christianity, church and culture, Cultural Anthropology, Desires, Mindfulness

2 responses to “Evaluating your life: Are you satisfied?

  1. Mark O.

    Thanks for the good post. I was reminded when you said, “Satisfaction is not some higher plane of life; a nirvana. It happens in fleeting moments” that I often forget that my deepest longings and desires aren’t going to be continually met in this world.

    I read alot of CS Lewis in college that awakened me to the reality that other people don’t walk around entirely satisfied either. It helped me to know that I’m “normal” in that.

    On a different note, I think using the lack or excess of others to evaluate our lives is a dangerous road to go down. I can always look to people who have more to allow myself to feel deprived, and look to those who have less to feel guilty. I’ve recently been trying to remind myself “I have nothing that I have not recieved from God” (it’s from Corinthians). It’s helped me become more aware of God’s blessings.

  2. Amy

    Intriguing post. I’ve been thinking about some of this stuff anyway, but it’s nice to have it in a different context.

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