- Twice as many adults are more satisfied with their lives than they are happy (83% vs around 40%).
- Facing your fears is scary, but try to start every day by committing to face one of your fears.
- Making decisions yourself instead of delegating them to others can increase your feelings of self-efficacy.
In my post last month, I stressed that in today’s modern-day world, most people believe that if they try hard enough, they can be happy all the time. The problem is that since happiness is an emotion, it comes and goes, it’s not long-lasting, and we don’t have control over it. Rather than chasing happiness, I’ve stressed that pursuing satisfaction is more realistic, sustainable, and will generate more contentment and peace in your life. About 40% of people say they are unhappy, while a 2022-23 Gallup poll found that 83% of U.S. adults say they are satisfied with their personal life.
That’s a huge difference, but it reinforces why I feel satisfaction is something that everyone has the power to achieve. In my new book, Beyond Happiness: The 6 Secrets of Lifetime Satisfaction, I present in-depth descriptions of the theory behind my techniques, which I’ve developed and refined over the past 30 years through interactions with my clients. However, there are no shortcuts. Unless you’re committed to using them long enough, they won’t be effective.
To help jumpstart your efforts, I’ve created six simple exercises that you can start working on now. If you stay on course, you will see tangible results that will put you on a path to a more satisfying life.
1. Avoiding Assumptions
Before we act on an assumption, make a decision, or take an action based on someone else’s behaviors or intentions, ask yourself, “Do I have factual evidence?” Could I convince a jury? Visualize a jury of your peers. If you can’t imagine convincing them, pause and wait for more evidence. This will help you avoid acting on a guess prematurely.
2. Reducing People-Pleasing Behaviors
To reduce situations where you may put someone else’s needs before your own and later feel underappreciated, try using a resentment check-in body scan to evaluate how you feel about a request that may go undervalued or unreciprocated. Ask yourself, “Would I still want to do it?” Then see how your body reacts. If you feel any tightness or discomfort, then you should calmly answer, “No,” delegate or edit the request. If your body scan is neutral and relaxed, then reply, “Yes.” This will help differentiate between people-pleasing and friendship behaviors.
3. Facing Fears
Facing fears is scary, but try to start every morning by asking, “What fear am I going to face today?” Lie in bed for an extra minute before getting up and mentally scroll through your schedule to identify any discomfort that you can target throughout the day. Focus on simple fears, like making a telephone call you have been putting off or saying yes to doing an activity that you wouldn’t normally do. Doing activities that disrupt your homeostasis will help build stronger feelings of competence and overall self-respect.
4. Making Decisions
Decision making is difficult for all of us because we view decisions as binary and high stakes. To manage your fear of decision-making, I recommend using a technique called decision-event consistency. Decision–event consistency is tailoring your decision-making time and energy to the size and complexity of the decision. Make sure the magnitude and time you allot to make decisions is balanced. If you rate a decision as a three in magnitude, but a nine in allocated decision time, then something is off. Making decisions instead of delegating them will increase your feelings of self-efficacy.
5. Closing Tasks
Finishing what we start is challenging, but it’s essential that you stay with the task (conversation, commitment, plan) at hand, and do not obsess about the future or what may or may not go right or wrong. Prioritize and divide things into manageable parts. Try to center on the positive aspects of each small success. Be realistic and don’t make promises to others that you won’t keep. Most important: remember that only you define what closing means and what will bring you a feeling of satisfaction.
6. Active Self-Reinforcement
Self-reinforcement is critical to achieving life satisfaction. The reinforcer being tangible is key. Choose something real, solid, or substantial. Follow through with self-reinforcement, don’t just think about doing it. Sometimes, pausing for a moment to write an affirmation in a notebook is enough. Try to make the reward proportionate to the behavior you are reinforcing. Whatever you decide to do, identify that the act of reinforcement is a reward in response to an accomplishment. Challenge yourself to self-reward when you’re successful in meeting your goals.
By consistently integrating these techniques into your daily life, I’m confident that you’ll feel an overall improvement in self-confidence and resilience. You’ll reach a plateau that will take you beyond happiness to the next frontier: satisfaction.
Megan Brenan, February 23, 2023, “Americans Largely Satisfied With Their Lives,” Gallup News
Dr. Jennifer Guttman, May 30, 2006, Beyond Happiness, The 6 Secrets Of Lifetime Satisfaction, Post Hill Press