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  1. MamaLiberty
    MamaLiberty November 19, 2014 12:46 pm

    Very interesting article indeed. Just a few quick points from me.

    First, “satisfaction” and “happiness” are not identical, by any means. The range of feelings people have about their lives is wide and very difficult to quantify – as with anything that is purely subjective. This is made pretty clear in the article, but it’s worth repeating because it can so easily be ignored if folks are looking for “proof” of something. 🙂

    Second, I believe that this “dissatisfaction” is both natural and functional. It is part of the driving force that is necessary to overcome both problems and distractions as we raise children and prepare for our own old age. If we were completely satisfied and happy at 30 and 40, we wouldn’t continue to work as hard.

    That can, of course, become dysfunctional, even pathological, but so can any other natural feeling or tendency. Some people simply never mature or learn from life.

    But what spoke to me the most was the part about the need to be grateful. Naturally, that requires a fair level of self honesty and peace within our own being. I had very little happiness or satisfaction when I was in my 50s, and I think most of that was because I was trying too hard to control every facet of my own life, as well as the people and environment around me. I was not generally grateful for what I had or could do, and that dissatisfaction became dysfunctional.

    Now, as I approach my 69th year… I have become reconciled with both my past and the future. The fact that neither is perfect is no longer of vital importance to me. I’m grateful to be alive, in relative good health, have friends and family, a home, food, and a goofy dog to share it with. I do the best I can with what I have and don’t expect much more. I call that happiness.

  2. Claire
    Claire November 19, 2014 12:56 pm

    “First, “satisfaction” and “happiness” are not identical, by any means.”

    Right you are ML. I even have an article in the upcoming (? just out?) BHM where I make that point. I just “shorthanded” my comment this morning.

    You’re right about the potential usefulness of dissatisfaction, too. (And other negative feelings like fear, self-doubt, etc.)

    Right now I find myself still trying to reconcile some of those things, especially my lack of any major achievement. OTOH, I realize that, just being who I am, if I could have found a cure for cancer and won the Nobel Prize I’d still think I hadn’t lived up to my potential (something I believe a lot of intelligent people could say about their attitudes toward themselves and their lives).

  3. MamaLiberty
    MamaLiberty November 19, 2014 1:20 pm

    Exactly, Claire. Our emotions and feelings are a very natural and important part of our humanity and play many important roles in our lives. For example, humans have a natural aggression component, to one extent or another. It’s part of what makes inventions, bold exploration and so much more of human life and improvement possible. It is necessary for self defense as well. Just as with love, hate, resentment, fear, etc. … we have to gain a realistic perspective and fit them into our lives to use, even enjoy, and not let them come to control us instead.

    Any emotion or feeling can obviously be misused and become pathological, but those who work so hard to be coldly logical and reject all human emotion are fooling themselves, I think… If they are truly able to eliminate emotion and instinctive reaction, I pity them.

    Another point, re your feeling of dissatisfaction with your achievements (which I think are impressive) might be related to how you were raised. Unrealistic expectations, constant criticism, never being able to truly satisfy one’s parents, is the basis for personal dissatisfaction in so many people. If nothing they ever did was “good enough” for those they loved and wanted to please… they usually have a very hard time ever pleasing themselves either. Don’t know if this fits, but it’s a possibility.

  4. ClarkS
    ClarkS November 20, 2014 7:45 am

    This article really resonates with me.

    My 40s were horrible. I was reasonably successful but I felt empty inside, like I was wasting life. I made some horrendous mistakes…I still cannot forgive myself for them.

    Now at 66 I’m beginning to feel happier although those feelings are not gone. Even if the only reason I’m happier is because my brain has been desensitized- that’s good enough for me.

    Claire, thanks for sharing the article. And it astounds me that you feel you have not accomplished anything major. Around here, you’re famous. Your name comes up in our conversations from time to time and your thoughts have changed the way we look at certain things. Hopefully over time you’ll be more content in the many things you have accomplished.

  5. Paul Bonneau
    Paul Bonneau November 25, 2014 8:56 am

    I second what ClarkS says; why you are unsatisfied with what you have accomplished is beyond me. Yeah it may not be as obvious or measurable as a Nobel Prize, but don’t forget, Obama got a Nobel Prize. 😉

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