Vijai P. Sharma, Ph.D
Personal satisfaction is closely linked with happiness. The good news is that you can increase your feeling of satisfaction right now, if you really WANT to. Perhaps, you are saying to yourself, "What does he mean if I want to. Of course, I do. Who wouldn't?"
Let me invite you to say to yourself, "Weighing everything, the good and the bad, I am satisfied with my life." How do you feel when you say it? Are there things of the past that you don't want to forget or, forgive somebody for what they did?
President Lincoln once said we can be as happy as we make up our mind to be. This is equally applicable to satisfaction. We can be as satisfied with our past as we make up our mind to be.
Why should you work on personal satisfaction? "To be happy," is my answer. Personal satisfaction and positive emotions have a significant and positive relationship with happiness. Negative emotions are known to decrease happiness.
The problem is that as we get older, positive emotions tend to go down while negative emotions increase. As a result, we often don't become happier as we grow older. In this article we will discuss how to increase personal satisfaction.
Human beings live in the past, present and future at the same moment. The admonition that we "live in the moment" is undoubtedly good advice since it takes the mind off the past and the future. But for a majority of people, it's extremely hard to practice.
For such is the nature of the mind. We try to stay fully in the moment of the "here and now," but before we know it, we are thinking about someone who did us wrong or worrying about a future situation that signals trouble. We shake our head and this time resolve to hold on to the present moment and, there we go again, reliving the past or quarreling with the future.
All negative thoughts and feelings about the past or the future are guaranteed to lower the degree of personal satisfaction.
Well-wishers may say, "Don't think about it," or "Don't worry." But, does it work? When it comes to the mind, anything, that is "Don't," never works. For example, when you tell yourself, "Don't think" or, "Don't worry" you are doing just that.
When you can't go around something, go through it. Instead of defending yourself from the intrusion of worries and other negative thoughts, why not go on the offensive? Adopt a positive relationship with the past, present and the future.
For example, you may want to form a positive relationship with your past, present and future as follows:
To be content with the past
To be optimistic about the future
Stay even-tempered in the present.
It's a tall order to be content, optimistic and even-tempered for the majority of the time, but not impossible. We don't have to be rocket scientists to learn these emotional skills. There are thoughts that can help you create those positive attitudes and emotions.
You might have been holding onto certain thoughts that interfere with achieving satisfaction. For example, it's not that difficult to be content with the past if you don't give in to the idea, "With everything that happened in my life, how can I possibly be even thinking about being content?"
Yes, you can. Such thoughts rob you of the happiness you deserve. Give yourself permission to be content, in spite of the bad events and dark shadows of the past.
Allow yourself to be even proud of the past, joyful in the present and enthused about the future.
Be proud if you are working on making things better for yourself and others.
Every day, perform at least one activity, connect with at least one person and take at least one action that offers you joy and satisfaction. Make a note of it because that would help you see yourself as a "take charge" person. You will be proud of yourself that you don't expect someone else to do it for you.
Play down the setbacks you experience. Be content with the fact that you are working on issues that are important to you.
With the exception of flashbacks and intrusive recollections, we relive the past only through our voluntary thoughts and memories.
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Copyright 2002, Mind Publications
Posted October 2002