As H.L Mencken once quipped, “A wealthy man is one who earns $100 a year more than his wife’s sister’s husband.”
Ha. Jokes aside, he was definitely on to something. It doesn’t matter how much a person has, countless studies have shown that given a choice, people would settle for a lot less if it means having more than the next person.
Therein lies the problem with a life spent in one-upmanship, chasing highs and as much of it as you can including success, wealth and all other kinds of indulgences. You always crave more of it. And it soon takes more of what you had before to give you that same level of enjoyment. The hedonic treadmill and the corresponding greed takes us absolutely nowhere and leaves us constantly wanting. Ultimately, all we feel is exhausted and miserable.
Satisfaction, on the other hand, is an emotion that allows us impart meaning to life or any activity. One might find pleasure in something happening to you (i.e. winning the lottery, getting a raise etc.). But satisfaction comes about only with effort and the conscious decision to do something. Namely, deciding and believing that what you have is good enough.
It doesn’t matter how much you objectively have. It’s choosing to be completely satisfied with it that makes the difference between a life spent basking in slow, sunny happiness or languishing in a dark abyss of insatiable want and need.
I constantly remind myself not to chase happiness or the highs. It will always elude us. But satisfaction will never ever disappoint. Because pleasure comes from without, but satisfaction can only come from within. And I don’t know about you, but I find that thought wonderfully empowering.