Walking home from my run with a friend this morning, she surprised me with the statement "You probably have no idea how jealous I am of you sometimes." I was genuinely caught off guard, but a few more sentences gave me a view of my life, from her perspective, that made a lot of sense. My husband's irregular paycheck, our general lack of structure, and the subtle but constant pressure on me to contribute more financially to the household was desirable to her. She saw in my life the "edge" that was missing in her own beautiful but unsatisfying "cage." She missed the spark, even as I missed the predictable comfort. Dissatisfied. Restless. Hungry for something different.
I know these feelings well, from my own life and from listening to many of my clients. Greener grass. Dormant dreams. Paused plans. I'm a big believer in weaving the things that give you joy into your life, no matter how tenuous the threads. It's what makes me tick, and brings satisfaction to many people I know. Finding that creative outlet. Getting that job. Losing those pounds. Writing those pages. Getting that training. Those things are all good, and to be pursued. The hard part is they all take time, effort, and dedication.
We tend to look at satisfaction as a well that needs to be filled, or at least kept at a reasonable level. The more satisfying experiences we have, the more we're willing to do the tasks and shoulder the responsibilities that we don't find particularly fulfilling. Sound familiar? I had a friend point out last week, when I was going on about being restless, that I didn't give myself any credit for being a good mom. It wasn't contributing to my "satisfaction well" if I can put it that way. He was right, it wasn't. I love being a mom, and though it's difficult and intimidating, there's tremendous joy and satisfaction to be found in it. Somehow though I wasn't allowing that satisfaction to get anywhere near my well. It wasn't tangible enough in my eyes to count. I couldn't measure it, touch it, or show it off.
Dissatisfaction creeps in when the list of things that satisfy you is a short one. If your well is only filled with big-ticket items, it's pretty easy to fall short. Running a marathon last weekend was incredibly satisfying for me, but that's not a regular occurrence! Getting my kids out the door in the morning dressed and fed? Now that's satisfying. Remembering (or perhaps learning) to add in those small things makes all the difference. A well-turned phrase. A tantrum-free hour. A beautiful smile. A thankful child. Depending on your perspective, there are a myriad of satisfaction-worthy moments in every day. If you're counting on bigger things to fill your well, make sure they're things you have some control over.
And in case you're afraid that being easily satisfied means you've lost your chutzpa? Remember that actions borne out of dissatisfaction tend to be reactionary, while those that come from a satisfied heart tend to be visionary. I'll take a vision over a reaction any day. So remember this: when it comes to feeling satisfied, keep a long list and an open mind. Your heart will thank you.