Why we're never satisfied.
Following several memes circulating on Instagram about how life isn't that complicated, it should just be 'lived', I'm here to dissect why it's not actually that easy to do so...
At the bottom of this article, there are coaching points and questions to help you move from dissatisfied to feeling excited by your life. But first, why we’re generally feeling dissatisfied…
For a while, I kept seeing these memes floating around on Instagram - always from ‘suggested follows’ rather than accounts I already follow - saying that many of us are over-complicating things, because all we are here to do is live.
It’s a nice idea. To stop exactly where you are now and cut off all ambition, desires and wider circle - and to instead, focus on what lies right in front of your eyes. To be mindful and practise gratitude rather than always wanting more.
On a basic level, what we need - as humans - is food, water, shelter and community. But not everyone has a home. Not everyone has food. Not everyone has water to drink. Not everyone has company or community.
Research from Shelter revealed that at least 271,000 people are recorded as homeless in England, including 123,000 children.
According to the Department for Work and Pensions: 4.7 million people (7%) in the UK are in food insecure households.
And a community life survey revealed that 6% of people living in England (approximately 3 million people) say they feel lonely often or always.
For people without any, or even one, of the above criteria not being met, to ‘just live life’ is not possible. We need food, shelter and community to survive. And no gratitude practice will change that.
Perhaps the memes are aimed more at those of us who are lucky to have all the above boxes ticked - to be homed, fed, watered and surrounded by people we love. Because essential needs met = happiness, right?
Because alongside those ‘just be grateful’ memes are a whole bunch of posts about people’s supposedly perfect lives. We see their beautiful homes, happy and well-behaved children and luxurious holidays.
As we watch this content unfold before our eyes, we feel a sense of lack. We fear that perhaps we’re not earning enough, doing enough, being enough. We worry, as women, about ageing too quickly, or being too fat.
These are messages served to us by society through social media. We are targeted with ads about losing our belly fat or botoxing-away our wrinkles or dying our greying hair a different colour.
Where are the ads saying: just be you, you have everything you need?
Well, nowhere, because ads are about money and they were dreamt up by the capitalist society we live in, that needs us to be thinking we aren’t enough, and that our lives aren’t enough, so that they can sell us the solution.
Occasionally, you’ll see an honest, raw post on Instagram that captures your attention. My husband saw one recently, when a filmmaker he admires opened up about suffering with depression. My husband was surprised, as this guy is really successful.
But as he and I and probably you know: perceived ‘success’ does not necessarily equate to personal happiness or fulfilment or gratitude or a mentally-well mind. All of these things take ‘work’ - but not career-work; mindset and self-development work.
Through interviewing women for my podcast, Home, I’ve come to realise - or had reaffirmed - that what brings me satisfaction and happiness is people. My husband and children, parents, siblings, nephews and friends (new and old).
If I have regular contact and connection with my important people, I feel good. Beyond that, after my essential needs have been met, I enjoy time in nature (gardening, walks), the arts and SQ rituals (breathwork, yoga nidra, magic spells).
I’ve done a lot of self-work over the years so now I can catch myself when I’m slipping into a comparison mindset or thinking my life is somehow lacking (when it really, really isn’t) and flip the switch.
Here’s how I move from feeling dissatisfied to delighted pretty quickly (followed by some coaching questions for you):
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