Are you one of the many people walking around singing the Rolling Stones song Satisfaction? You know the one – I can’t get no satisfaction, I can’t get no satisfaction. We think we will find satisfaction or happiness when we buy that house, or that new car or this and that? As a country we are richer than ever but surveys show that Americans are no happier than they were 30 years ago. The problem seems to be that we aren’t very good at figuring out exactly what will make us happy. Sara Schaefer Munoz points out in the WSJ The Juggle blog post Are You Sure You’re Happy that many Americans seem to be feeling this way today! Plainly put, when we get into the habit of thinking “if only, then…” we’ve set ourselves up for a letdown.
That’s what the Rolling Stones were saying in their 1965 chart-topper Satisfaction. Sara Schaefer Munoz points out in her WSJ The Juggle blog post Are You Sure You’re Happy? that many Americans seem to be feeling that way today.
In answer to the question: “Does all the juggling of work and family make you happy?”, Munoz points to a WSJ Online article By Jonathan Clements titled GETTING GOING – No Satisfaction: Why What You Have Is Never Enough.
“As a country, we are richer than ever. Yet surveys show that Americans are no happier than they were 30 years ago. The key problem: We aren’t very good at figuring out what will make us happy.
We constantly hanker after fancier cars and fatter paychecks – and, initially, such things boost our happiness. But the glow of satisfaction quickly fades and soon we’re yearning for something else.
Similarly, we tell our friends that our kids are our greatest joy. Research, however, suggests the arrival of children lowers parents’ reported happiness, as they struggle with the daily stresses involved.”
This sounds to me like a case of unfulfilled expectations.
The Stones had this to say about what we’re being led to look forward to and to insist on in our lives:
When I’m drivin’ in my car,
And a man comes on the radio,
And he’s tellin’ me more and more,
About some useless information,
Supposed to fire my imagination.
I can’t get no, oh no no no.
Hey hey hey, that’s what I say.
I can’t get no satisfaction,
I can’t get no satisfaction.
‘Cause I try and I try and I try and I try.
I can’t get no, I can’t get no.
Sara Schaefer Munoz asks: “Are we deluding ourselves into thinking we’ll be happier once we buy that house or earn that promotion? Or are the long hours and stresses of balancing work and children going to pay off in some form or another?”
The simple fact is that when we get into the habit of thinking “if only, then …” we’ve set ourselves up for a letdown. Using the example above, when we believe that we cannot live balanced, fulfilled lives until some person, place, thing, or situation in our lives changes or becomes a reality for us (like a new relationship – check out Terrence Real’s blog on this, a new house, a new job), we’re not being present with ourselves and living in the moment. We’re spending our lives waiting for something else to happen for us to achieve happiness (or comfort, peace of mind, etc.).
The Stones had a better handle on things in 1969 when they observed:
You can’t always get what you want
And if you try sometimes you find (might find, just might find)
You get what you need.
Whatever you need is right there within you – here and now.