Satisfaction guaranteed: a short guide to life balance
Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman gave a TED talk called “The Riddle of Experience vs Memory” in which he stated: “Life satisfaction is being happy about your life.” Whilst we are all intent on the pursuit of happiness, we also know that, joyous as it is, it tends to be fleeting.
Life satisfaction is a much more rounded goal, an overall state of being which incorporates contentment and a strong feeling of self-worth. There are many ways to move towards this desired outcome, no matter what obstacles might be in the path, and, regardless of income, age or health, we can all benefit from paying attention to some of these simple steps.
Our minds are so powerful that falling into a negative mindset can have extremely adverse consequences. Although it is difficult to embrace this idea when life has been unkind or overwhelming, switching thoughts and reactions can be radical. One trick to avoid is the “if only” syndrome, where we assume if only we were richer, thinner, married (or not) or promoted at work, all would be well. These external circumstances have very statistically little effect on satisfaction. Being appreciative of what we have is a good habit to get into. One easy method of doing this is to keep a daily gratitude diary and list five reasons to be grateful. Try to see the flip-side of an adverse event. There are numerous examples where a person has been made redundant, whereupon, instead of falling into a deep depression, they have taken the opportunity to start over and pursue a passion. It does take courage and conviction, but it is achievable. Positive thinking is vital! If you’re interested in learning more you can check out courses with NPL.
Money is often the source of anxiety, and despite the well-known truism that it cannot buy happiness, the lack of it can often seem a brutal impediment to living the life you’ve imagined. It’s important to realise that there is a lot of help available for seemingly unsolvable problems, like debt. Make the brave first step to seek some expert advice. Careful financial analysis can provide lots of solutions if things have got out of control. A clear budgeting plan and consolidation of existing loans are two great measures to recover from a bad patch. Taking control is empowering and makes it much easier to plan ahead with optimism and resolve. You can start this today by making small steps and downloading simple and handy budgeting apps.
Value family and friends
It might seem obvious, but research has proven that having close friends is a necessary component of life satisfaction and boosts it by 20%. Investing time, care and commitment to social life and friendships really does pay dividends. New friends can be found by exploring different hobbies or joining clubs or classes, while old ones can now be tracked down on social networks. There is no need to have a vast number of close connections – the magic, sustainable number is said to be ten. While we can’t choose our families, they are crucial to our sense of belonging and people who explore their family tree have been found to be more fulfilled, enjoying their life story and knowing where they came from. Spending time with loved ones is essential to deep satisfaction, and the creation of good memories is an added emotional bonus.
Set and achieve goals
Whether goals are short or long term, they are imperative to have in order to meet life targets and deliver satisfaction. Qualities such as grit and perseverance come into play in the attainment of these goals. Making a commitment to something and then sticking to it has been shown time and time again to be an invaluable experience. Goals can be in any arena and of any size. Whether relationship, career, health, exercise, financial or ambition related, a steady and purposeful pursuit will reward those who meet them. Don’t make all your goals too huge. Finishing a crossword can be as pleasing as climbing a mountain.
Stay open to change
Getting stuck in a routine can be the precursor to monotony and apathy. Needless to say, these two negative states are the enemies of achieving satisfaction. Being open to new experiences and willing to try out fresh challenges nurtures qualities that keep life exciting and enjoyable. A sense of wonder and curiosity is something all children possess, and all too often this is drummed out of the human spirit as adult responsibilities take over. Cultivating full engagement with whatever activity we are involved in, and giving everything we do our best shot, are routes straight to life satisfaction. Change is transformative so don’t be afraid of it.
Regardless of where you are in your life and your reasons for wanting to increase your life satisfaction there are a number of habits that all of us can adopt to a greater or lesser extent to reach these goals.
Start small and as you begin to see improvements move the goal posts and set new targets to keep the cumulative gains coming!
Above all, don’t forget:
- Remain positive
- Always look for the silver lining
- Have courage to take control and try new things
- Surround yourself with the people you love, and who love you
- Set realistic goals
- Stay open to new possibilities
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