The Startup
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The Startup

Life satisfaction: to be avoided at all costs

At a recent wedding, I overheard a guest congratulating the newlyweds. “Well done”, he said. “You’ve successfully graduated from being asked the ‘When are you getting married?’ to the ‘When are you having a baby?’ question.

At the time, I laughed. The observation was humorously accurate. But then the implication of the statement hit me.

No one actually gives a flying fruit cake about the present.

It’s the quintessential catch 22. Happiness has increasingly become a ‘thing’ to strive towards, with more motivational and self-help books being churned out and consumed now than at any other time in history. And yet contentment has become such a negative notion it’s practically a dirty word.

Couples in long-term, loving de facto relationships are made to feel as though they are ‘not quite there yet’.

Satisfied workers are subtly tut-tutted if they remain in the same job for too long, ‘squandering their potential’ to advance up the vocational hierarchy.

Contented renters are poo-pooed if they pursue the Australian dream of home ownership with anything less than the fervour of a cat after a catnip-laced mouse.

Achieving complete life satisfaction is no longer applauded. Instead, it’s viewed as a manifestation of laziness. Labelled as a lack of ambition. Looked down upon with unbridled contempt.

And so, everywhere we turn, we are bombarded with pressure to change. Pressure to strive for more. Pressure to upgrade our stuff. Our lifestyles. Ourselves.

Better jobs. Better relationships. Better crap to cram into better homes. After all, why be happy with what we have when we could be happier with something else?

It’s a message that big business shamelessly endorses and doggedly perpetuates. After all, a consumer with high life satisfaction — one who feels no obligation to keep up with the Joneses/Smiths/Kardashians — is of little use to an aspirational fat cat at the head of a booming corporation.

Feeling ok about life is ultimately bad for business.

So everywhere we look, we are prodded, pushed, and encouraged not to ‘settle’. We liberally pour our limited time, energy and passion to advancing our life status. We seek out the next upgrade that will get us to the point in life where we will finally be happy.

I call bullshit.

Sure, we all have our own preferences and plans. But ultimately our choices (and any resulting changes) should reflect our plans; not the plans imposed on us by societal expectations.

So if you wake up in the morning feeling pretty good about your life, treat yourself to a celebratory cup of smug self-satisfaction and kick back.

Maybe — just maybe — you’re actually ok already.

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