How to live a satisfied life
I’ve been rather obsessed with the concept of ‘happiness’ for a long time. It sort of came with the name, Felicity.
I lived a life of pleasure for nearly 40 years, but it wasn’t enough for me. I often say that I left my husband and then spent six months working out why I left my husband. And the one word always came back to me? Fulfilment. My life had been fun, but empty and meaningless.
Fulfilment or satisfaction?
After a few years of studying the science of happiness, I found that it wasn’t quite the right word for how I wanted to feel. I had been searching for a deeper kind of happiness, one that both embraced the joy of the present moment and the desire for a better life and a better world. ‘Satisfaction’ was the word that ticked the boxes and that seemed to sum up everything that I had been learning and implementing in my own life.
My catchphrase is that I want to "help people live a more satisfied life they don’t need to escape from". Are you that person who lives for the weekend, or who can’t wait for that holiday to get away from it all? I used to be that person. I toiled through the grind of five days a week, only to see those weekends fly by. I spent 47 weeks a year in misery, in exchange for just five weeks of joy.
And I’ve realised that this is a really terrible ratio to live your life by! Why shouldn’t we embrace the joy and fulfilment of every day? I decided that “life is ok” is just not good enough. So I brought together everything I have learnt from psychology, neuroscience, and philosophy from East and West into my own philosophy. I call it my ‘Felisophy of the Satisfied Life’, and it has four elements.
1. Find your focus
The earth element is all about building great foundations. Routines, rest and resilience. Good routines and planning are the essential bones that hold our life together in good times and bad. Being in control of our time also means knowing our personal boundaries and when to say ‘no’.
This is also about learning all the techniques that work for us best when we come up against unexpected stress, anxiety, and even trauma. Some people like to meditate, some find expressive writing useful, and others might prefer to exercise or talk to a friend. Whatever our healthy stress relievers are, it’s important we put those good habits in place when life is easy, so those habits are easy when life is hard.
2. Find your fire
Fire is what was missing from my life. A sense of meaning and purpose has been intrinsic to models of happiness dating back to Aristotle. It’s not enough just to make ourselves happy. Contributing to society provides far more longevity in our happiness. And being generous is scientifically proven to make us happier.
There is a lot of social conditioning to unpick here, though. From a very young age, we are brought up to run on the hedonic treadmill, always chasing after the next short-term material possession that we'll inevitably get bored of, before chasing another. And another and another…
We also need to know what we’re good at. Working to our strengths helps us achieve our purpose, leading to far greater life satisfaction.
3. Find your flow
You know when you are so engrossed in a task, that time just flies by? Or when you don’t feel like you're thinking hard about what you’re doing, but you know if you lose concentration, it will stop happening? This is 'Flow', a concept developed by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. It’s that perfect match of the skills we have and with the challenge before us and is considered the ultimate human experience. What could be more satisfying than that?
The watery element of Find your flow also encompasses other aspects of living in the moment. Accepting our situation, others and ourselves. Being grateful for all of the good things in our lives (and sometimes the bad things, too). Savouring every moment so that life fills us with awe, wonder and satisfaction every single day.
4. Find your self
As we move into the air element, things get more rarefied and difficult to pin down. But having a strong sense of self is really important in us knowing how we fit into the world. My study of yoga philosophy helps me to connect with the rest of the universe, and feel less attached to my individuality. But, I am also keenly aware that we live in a world of the individual, and that I can determine the identity that I want others to see.
Finding ourselves within the context of others is key. Tuning into our natural human impulses of compassion, and connecting to others and our environment. Seeing how others shape and influence how we see ourselves and reclaiming our own perception of our Self. And finally, looking after that Self with true self-care.
This brings us back to Focus. You never get to a point in life, happiness or satisfaction where it’s a done job that you never have to work on again. Yes, there’s an element of spinning plates, but life should require a bit of effort. It’s work, but shouldn’t feel like a slog, and it should bring you joy. If it doesn’t, you can change one of two things:
- your situation
- your approach to the situation
That doesn’t mean you never stop, survey what you’ve done, and savour the moment. The key is to wake up every morning with a clear sense of purpose, feeling organised and ready to go. And to go to bed every night feeling like you’ve had an awesome day. Doesn’t that sound so much better than always wanting to escape your own life?
If you're interested in learning more about living a satisfied life, contact Felicity today.