Eleanor Roosevelt once said that “Happiness is not a goal; it is a byproduct.” As humans, we often believe that when we buy a house, or fall in love, or receive that well-deserved promotion at work, we will be truly happy. But why do we infer that happiness is only attainable through milestone events or achievements?
The reality of this tendency is that it may not be happiness that we are seeking and experiencing on a daily basis but instead satisfaction. Perhaps we live our day-to-day lives pursuing the things that make us happy, which then contributes to our overall sense of satisfaction.
If you look up happiness and satisfaction in a dictionary, the two definitions are quite similar. Both use words such as “joy” and “contentment,” describing a pleasant and delighted emotion. But why is it then that people often say, “Do what makes you happy” but never think to advise “Pursue what satisfies you”? It may have a different ring to it, but it is a good indicator of a different sense of contentment.
We reached out to cognitive behavioral therapist and clinical psychologist Jennifer Guttman, Psy.D., to better distinguish happiness and satisfaction.
The difference between happiness and satisfaction.
Research shows that the most frequent uses of the word happiness revolve around describing someone’s personality, as in being characterized as a happy person. It is also used in association with materialism and experientialism, conveying that when you purchase or experience something, you may experience happiness. Although definitions are vague and vary, happiness ultimately seeks to portray a moment of temporary bliss.
“Happiness is fleeting,” Guttman explains. “Happiness is a feeling someone gets when they experience something out of the ordinary that brings them joy. With that feeling, a neurotransmitter, dopamine, is released, which gives us an elevated mood state. However, this elevated mood state is not sustainable because it’s reliant on the release of this neurotransmitter.”
Satisfaction, on the other hand, is an enduring feeling experienced for a longer period of time, as a result of the collection of life events and feelings you’ve experienced. Guttman describes satisfaction as a more balanced, sustainable state because it’s not neurotransmitter-dependent the way happiness is.
Or as Daniel Kahneman, Ph.D., Nobel Prize winner and psychologist, explained in his TED Talk, we experience happiness in our lives as well as happiness with our lives. This latter principle is akin to the concept of satisfaction, which we experience more frequently and thus influences our attitudes and behaviors. Satisfaction is a better indicator of how content we feel toward our lives overall and may contribute to more mindful decisions that bring our lives meaning.
For example, you come home from a long day at work and are greeted by a package at your front door of a new pair of shoes that you had ordered a few days prior. At the moment of opening that package, you might experience excitement and happiness. The moment then passes, and you are onto your next activity. However, each day you wear those shoes, you are reminded of your purchase and are satisfied. Therefore, feeling satisfied has a longer-lasting impact on people’s moods, whereas experiencing happiness is an instantaneous, temporary sensation.
Which is more important?
Guttman describes satisfaction as a more long-term and tangible solution than happiness. “When people think ‘happy’ as joy or effervescence is attainable, it creates cognitive dissonance when that feeling is not sustainable,” she explains.
That said, happiness and satisfaction are intertwined, as “most people experience satisfaction on an ongoing basis, interspersed with moments of happiness,” Guttman explains. “They are both attainable, but satisfaction is more sustainable.”
“People become more satisfied by becoming more self-confident, self-reliant, by developing a strong sense of self, by developing a sense of their effectiveness in the world, and by believing in their inherent lovability,” Guttman says.
To strengthen your sense of self, she recommends finishing tasks (not just starting them), making decisions for yourself, facing fears, and avoiding people-pleasing behaviors. Facing your fears, for example, may not make you happy—but it sure is satisfying.
2. Write down at least one good thing that you experience each day.
As the saying goes: Every day may not be good, but there is something good in every day. Especially in today’s current climate, you may feel that your daily routine has become redundant and complacent. However, it is all about where you channel your energy and focus. Whether you meet an old friend for lunch or go for a relaxing bike ride, write it down. Those moments will turn into memories and will leave you feelingmore grateful and optimistic in the long run, as you are able to go back and read them. The benefits of gratitude are all about creating a sense of lifelong satisfaction, as opposed to simply seeking moments of exuberant happiness.
3. Put yourself out there.
Some research suggests extroversion is associated with more life satisfaction and overall well-being. Despite this pandemic, it is easier than ever to reach out to someone and make a new friend. From becoming a pen pal with a patient in a nursing home to just messaging an old friend you’ve lost touch with, you may rekindle or create new friendships that could enhance your interpersonal skills and revitalize your daily routine.
The bottom line.
Making happiness your destination may cause you to miss out on this exciting journey of life, a journey that has many twists and turns, with new opportunities appearing each day. Recognizing what makes you feel satisfied, on the other hand, can contribute to a more positive attitude and outlook on life while feeling more fulfilled. By living through this lens, we can experience not just moments of happiness but a lifestyle that is enduringly satisfying.
Mihran Kalaydjian – A Tear And A Smile – Poem by Khalil Gibran
I would not exchange the sorrows of my heart
For the joys of the multitude.
And I would not have the tears that sadness makes
To flow from my every part turn into laughter.
I would that my life remain a tear and a smile.
A tear to purify my heart and give me understanding
Of life’s secrets and hidden things.
A smile to draw me nigh to the sons of my kind and
To be a symbol of my glorification of the gods.
A tear to unite me with those of broken heart;
A smile to be a sign of my joy in existence.
I would rather that I died in yearning and longing than that I live Weary and despairing.
I want the hunger for love and beauty to be in the
Depths of my spirit,for I have seen those who are
Satisfied the most wretched of people.
I have heard the sigh of those in yearning and Longing, and it is sweeter than the sweetest melody.
With evening’s coming the flower folds her petals
And sleeps, embracingher longing.
At morning’s approach she opens her lips to meet
The sun’s kiss.
The life of a flower is longing and fulfilment.
A tear and a smile.
The waters of the sea become vapor and rise and come
Together and area cloud.
And the cloud floats above the hills and valleys
Until it meets the gentle breeze, then falls weeping
To the fields and joins with brooks and rivers to Return to the sea, its home.
The life of clouds is a parting and a meeting.
A tear and a smile.
And so does the spirit become separated from
The greater spirit to move in the world of matter
And pass as a cloud over the mountain of sorrow
And the plains of joy to meet the breeze of death
And return whence it came.
Produced By Paramount Studios
Members of the Musical Group:
Aram Kasabian – Lead Guitar
Sevan Manoukian – Drummer
Hratch Panossian – Bass
Samer Khoury – Violin
Tony Amer – Saxophone
Haim Cohen – KeyBoard
Albert Panikian – Trumpet
Nicole Del Sol – Percussion
Dana Debos – Trombone
When I fell in love my heart was on fire
To be with you was my one desire
And if you love me I’ll give you everything you need
A lifetime of promises and a world full of dreams
For only my heart knows what it means
And I promise you it won’t be wrong
One love, two hearts we will make it strong,
But now my love is lost in your sweet kiss
Honey when I’m alone you’re the one I miss
And if you give in your love could be mine
I feel truly blessed for this feeling the Lord has given me
Accompany by faith and much understanding
And I know this gift will guide me for all eternity
As my heart flies by with angel wings
And the clouds form into wedding rings
A woman in love the angels sing
On and on a soft melody
That’s how it feels to be in love like me.
For thoughts from the heart are never endi
Many well-known celebrities have battled breast cancer, and now speak out to help others suffering from the disease. Take a look at these inspirational celebrity breast cancer survivors who fought and won their battle against breast cancer.
“I had my biopsy at 8 in the morning,” she tells PARADE. “Within two hours, I knew I had cancer. Then, at 1 o’clock, I had to be on the set of The Sopranos. It was the scene in which Tony and Carmela were already divorced, and I’m telling him I’m going to take him for everything. It was a very angry scene for me, and that helped a bit, I’m sure. I had a miserably hard time holding on to my lines. It was a terribly frightening and surreal time, but I never missed a day of work, even on the worst chemo days. You have no idea at the time that there is a future. It’s a future that involves taking a trip to Sloan-Kettering hospital every six months to make sure I’m okay, but it’s just a part of who I am now. You learn to live with it and are amazed how you find ways to be grateful for it.”
“It’s a real showstopper when you get diagnosed with breast cancer. One of the big lessons for me was that, as much as we think we can control things by being fit and eating well and so on, there are just going to be things in life that you’re dealt for whatever reason. I think not having the power to control everything is where you will find the most opportunity. It demands that you let go. I think vulnerability offers you an opportunity for expansion,” Crow tells PARADE.
“By the time I was diagnosed, I felt like kind of a pawn in my own life. Everything I was doing was made out of taking care of everybody else. There’s a lot of fear in that—the fear of disappointing people if you say ‘no’ or of stepping on somebody’s feelings. I realized that the only person who could go through that treatment was me. Nobody could get on the radiation table except for me. It was very informative,” she said.
“I was 36 years old when I had breast cancer,” she tells PARADE. “The things I pray for are a lot different than they used to be. I pray that I’ll find joy and happiness in whatever comes my way rather than being totally focused on getting the thing that will advance my career. It’s not that I’m less ambitious, it’s just that I used to feel that if my life wasn’t a certain way I wasn’t going to be happy. Then I shifted gears in my consciousness. I really accept the fact that my life is blessed and that it doesn’t matter if I’m successful in this business or something else.”
“I probably felt a little more empowered because I’d gone through it with my mother but I didn’t want to talk about it while I was getting treatment,” she tells PARADE. “I just didn’t want to like shout from the rooftop, ‘I’m having radiation.’ But now that I’m OK, I don’t need to keep it a secret and I want to be able to help others. I’m a spokesperson for the Susan G. Komen Foundation for the Cure, which helps educate the 1.1 million women around the globe who face a diagnosis each year. “
“If you have a friend or family member with breast cancer, try not to look at her with ‘sad eyes.’ Treat her like you always did; just show a little extra love.”
“There is one thing I’ve learned for sure. It’s a life-changing thing to be in a position of needing help and being so lucky as to get it. And to feel like that’s okay,” she tells PARADE. “You can’t just take care of everybody else all the time. That’s almost as perspective-changing as the illness. For someone like me, that was kind of tough.”
“I’m feeling fine and clean,” she tells PARADE. “I’m actually healthier now because of better nutrition, yoga, a lot of hiking, and a spiritual awakening. October is breast-cancer month, and I spend more time then speaking and using my celebrity to help women become more aware. I think it’s working. The shame and the fear seem to be going away.”
Finally from myself as a cancer survivor – I say -“The worst thing you can do with any life-threatening disease is sit around all day waiting for the next test. If I die tomorrow I think I could look at myself in the mirror and say I tried everything I could to live as healthy a life as possible. I didn’t just sit around and hope that the next treatment might work.”
How in all wonder Columbus got over,
That is a marvel to me, I protest,
Cabot, and Raleigh too, that well-read rover,
Frobisher, Dampier, Drake and the rest.
Bad enough all the same,
For them that after came,
But, in great Heaven’s name,
How he should ever think
That on the other brink
Of this huge waste terra firma should be,
Is a pure wonder, I must say, to me.
How a man ever should hope to get thither,
E’e’n if he knew of there being another side;
But to suppose he should come any whither,
Sailing right on into chaos untried,
Across the whole ocean,
In spite of the motion,
To stick to the notion
That in some nook or bend
Of a sea without end
He should find North and South Amerikee,
Was a pure madness as it seems to me.
What if wise men had, as far back as Ptolemy,
Judged that the earth like an orange was round,
None of them ever said, ‘Come along, follow,
Sail to the West, and the East will be found.’
Many a day before
Ever they’d touched the shore
Of the San Salvador,
Sadder and wiser men
They’d have turned back again;
And that he did not, but did cross the sea,
Is a pure wonder, I must say, to me.
And that he crossed and that we cross the sea
Is a pure wonder, I must say, to me.