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Real Life Lessons

Can't Get No Satisfaction!

With that one, ever-popular line, the Rolling Stones seemed to speak for not only their peers, but for successive generations as well.

In reality, our lack of satisfaction isn't just about sex or relationships, but about life in all of its varied aspects . It often seems that no matter what we do, that sense of deep well being, satisfaction with who we are (as well as who we are becoming), and contentment with our lives in general, slips from our grasp. Ironically, it often appears that the harder we work at "success," the more elusive it becomes. That's because we falsely assume that success in some designated area will automatically bring happiness, satisfaction and fulfillment.

The good news is that the peace or fulfillment you've been looking for are much closer than you may think.

In fact, you have the "magic key" to satisfaction within you right now. You've simply been too busy frantically chasing things outside of yourself-when all you've needed to do was look within. I'm not talking about some super-spiritual or mystical process here, but simply getting in touch with what's really important to you. The "success markers" you have set for yourself (a certain job, salary, car, relationship, desire, status symbol, etc.) are not enough in themselves. What you really are seeking is the way they will make you feel: content, respected or loved.

So what else can provide you with those feelings? What else would bring you true satisfaction ? How about experiencing the things (or states of mind) that you truly value and enjoy?

For instance, some of my benchmarks of success include any time I get to "play" in one of my favorite activities:

  • Spiritual Growth, which involves reading, thinking, prayer and meditation, as well as long talks with similarly motivated friends.
  • Making a difference in my world, any time I can contribute to God's world or someone's life-whether through writing, lecturing, mentoring, advising or just listening; by feeding a hungry child; through community service; or spending quality time with my family.
  • Being productive with my creative gifts: writing, speaking, photography, problem-solving, consulting, coaching, etc. Gifts may vary from music to art, woodworking to child raising, leadership to landscaping, tutoring to home decorating. What is your Gift? (See Chapter Two)
  • Time with family and friends. Meaningful relationships should be on everyone's list. Any quality time spent here provides one of life's greatest satisfactions.
  • Fun. For me having fun "celebrating life"-- a delicious meal with friends, a beautiful sunset, a day with my son, a good book, a family vacation, or just a Sunday drive, a relaxing walk, or a beautiful view-any of these and many more will meet my need to have a fun experience every da

These are a few of the things I truly value in life because they provide me with a sense of fulfillment. When I participate in these activities, I am grateful that I have successfully achieved my goal to experience those things I value most on a daily or weekly basis. I even make it a point every few weeks to spend a few minutes "taking stock:" Have I been too busy, too fragmented or misdirected? Or have I, in fact, stayed focused on experiencing as many of the things I value as reasonably possible?

Ninety percent of the time, I feel satisfied with who I am and where I am in my journey. Does this mean that I'm "content to stagnate?" Does my contentment indicate that I have no unfulfilled goals and dreams? Of course not. It just means that I refuse to define my success on the basis of whether I've reached my "ideal" state or met a particular goal on time. (It may well take several years to meet anyway, so what am I supposed to do in the meantime-feel unfulfilled?). Instead, I will consciously choose to define my success, which for me means the satisfaction of regularly experiencing the things I value most.

Bottom line : Sorry Stones, but true satisfaction isn't difficult to find; it just takes thoughtfully defining your values and organizing your time and priorities to maximize your ability to experience them.