Would You Rather be Happy or Satisfied?

There is a difference. There’s also a way to be both.

Photo by Austin Schmid on Unsplash
Let us prepare our minds as if we’d come to the very end of life. Let us postpone nothing. Let us balance life’s books each day…The one who puts the finishing touches on their life each day is never short of time.
— Seneca

How can you make time for both your personal and professional lives?

How can you maximize productivity without sacrificing relaxation?

How would you spend your time if you wanted both instant gratification and long-term achievement?

Welcome to the latest installment of “On the Clock,” the video series that explores what it’s like living with a death countdown clock — a clock that’s counting down to the (theoretical) end of your life.

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TRANSCRIPT:

Happiness and Satisfaction

Go to thesaurus.com and you’ll see these two words share a bunch of the same synonyms:

Joy. Pleasure. Contentment.

And to me, they always seemed like virtually the same thing.

That is, until a few months ago, when I was listening to a podcast by the comedian, Adam Carolla.

Adam was talking about — and this is obviously my interpretation of what he said — that in the simplest terms possible, happiness is rooted in enjoyment, whereas satisfaction is more tied to achievement.

For instance, getting cash as a gift would make you happy.

But getting cash as a bonus you earned at your job? That will give you satisfaction.

Reconciling the Difference

I was reminded of this distinction as I was putting together the videos about “What would my last day on Earth look like?” and “What would my most productive day look like?

My last day on Earth was all about happiness. It was about doing the things I love, with the people I love, while eating the food I love.

All worthwhile causes.

Conversely, my most productive day was about satisfaction. It was about pushing myself, and setting and pursuing goals, and spending every second trying to get better, even if that meant — especially if that meant — being uncomfortable.

Again, all worthwhile causes.

But when I stepped back and looked at these days individually, I realized there was a flaw with both.

Neither approach took into account the full story of my life.

Present vs. Future

My last day took into account my present, but it disregarded my future. It was short-sighted. And why wouldn’t it be?

If I knew I had only one day left to live, there’s no way I’d spend any of it in a squat or lunge or with a spinach smoothie in my hand.

When there’s no tomorrow — literally — who cares? Everything is about instant gratification, and rightfully so.

On the other hand, my most productive day did account for both my present and future, but it did so only in certain ways.

While it was focused on my personal and professional growth, it didn’t give me the chance to blow off steam or do anything that didn’t have a deeper, far-reaching purpose.

Nor did it make time for the relationships that have been, and hopefully would continue to be, so special to me.

Present = Future

What I take away from this is that, to live a well-rounded life, I have to be aware of my present and future. I have to live in both of those dimensions.

Because, whenever my life does end, I’m not going to just look at how much I was able to accomplish, and I’m not going to just look at the final 24 hours.

I’m going to look at all of it.

Which is why I don’t want to live every day like it’s my last, nor do I want to live like my last day will never come.

What I want to do is live every day like it’s the last chance to add to the story of my life.

And that takes balance.

Which brings me to my ideal day — a hybrid of my most productive day and my perfect final day.

Though, truth be told, it does skew more toward being productive, because while there’s definitely crossover between the two, and each has their value, I do believe satisfaction is a richer experience than happiness.

My Ideal Day

Morning

I’d wake up early, probably around 5 a.m. or so. I’m not a morning person, but I do get a sort of psychological win from being up before the sun.

I’d go through my current morning routine: I’d work out, eat a healthy breakfast, meditate, write in my journal and make my bed before heading out the door.

If I’m at my job, I’m doing the best work I can. If I’m on my own, I’m writing or working on these videos or doing something creative.

But during my breaks, I’d occasionally turn my brain off and check social media or read about Texas Longhorns football.

For lunch, I’m eating healthfully, or at least not unhealthfully. Typically I’d rather look forward to a cheat meal at dinner.

But every once in awhile, I’m having that double bacon cheeseburger and fries.

Afternoon

In the afternoon, it’s back to being productive. And once my creativity starts to wane, I’d get to the items on my to-do list I too often ignore, like making phone calls I’ve been putting off, or cleaning the house.

But I’d also make an effort to touch base with those people who are close to me. I might even draw up a schedule to make sure I’m communicating with everyone as much as I should be.

And every so often, I’d meet friends for happy hour, or head to the driving range to hit a bucket of balls, or say, Screw it, lie down and take a nap.

Night

Nine times out of 10, dinner would be something healthy. My cholesterol levels can’t handle consecutive meals of McDonald’s like they once did.

But if my wife and I go out, either with friends or on a date night, I’m not going to feel guilty for reaching for the bread basket.

And every once in awhile, I’m having dessert — anything chocolate, or maybe cheesecake or apple pie.

If we’re not hanging out with family or friends, my wife and I would spend the night binge-watching Netflix, or reading, or offering real-time analysis of “The Bachelor.”

As my mother-the-therapist has told me, every couple should spend some quality time together every day, so that’s what we’d do.

To make sure I can get up and do it all over again, I’d go to bed at a reasonable hour.

But every now and then, I’d stay up late. I love being the only person awake in the house, and that’s also the best time to catch cable classics like “Rocky IV” and “Varsity Blues.”

Conclusion

So that’s it. That’s my ideal day.

A little instant gratification mixed with a lot of productivity.

And as I think about how I can create as many of these days as possible, for however many days I have left, I’m reminded of a song I first heard in preschool.

The song is called “And the Youth Shall See Visions” by Debbie Friedman.

And the last two lines of its chorus could just as easily be a mission statement — a mission statement that would bring anyone both happiness and satisfaction.

They go:

We must live for today, we must build for tomorrow
Give us time, give us strength, give us life.

Not Getting What You Want Out of Your Life?

Learn to manage your fears and become a bolder risk-taker, decision-maker and communicator with help from my 5-step strategic video.

Click here right now to get the video!


Originally published on The Mission.