The Satisfaction Dilemma

Am I satisfied with my life?

Look at this photo:

When I look down the mountain and see where I have come from, I see my life as an achievement. I see the risks I have taken, the discomfort I have endured, the competition I have overtaken and obstacles I have braved. I feel satisfied.

Now look at the other part of the same photo:

When I see above, I don’t even see myself anywhere close to where I want to be. I feel I haven’t even covered 10% of the ground. Unlike the peak in the photo, the peak of my life is not even in the picture. I see lots of people far ahead of me. I am worried about the obstacles I can see ahead but I’m worried more about the obstacles I can’t see. I know it will get tougher the higher I rise as the air gets thinner and I become weaker. I feel utterly unsatisfied with my life.

There’s a problem with using this mountain as a metaphor for life. Unlike the mountain, there is not a definite peak in our life — a place where we can reach and feel that “this is all that had to be conquered on this mountain and finally, it’s all over”. In life, there never comes a point of absolute satisfaction.

Am I satisfied with my life? Yes and No. It’s fascinating how our perception towards our life changes with the direction we look at it — the downhill of the metaphor mountain being our past and the uphill, the future.

However, I look my life more towards the future than the past so I’m more unsatisfied than satisfied.

Here’s the paradox of life:

If you’re majorly satisfied, this means you’re not looking towards the top; you haven’t set high standards for yourself; you haven’t picked a mountain big enough. But you’re happy and your life is easy.

If you are majorly unsatisfied, this means you’re looking into the future and have a lot of expectations from yourself. If you are willing to work your way up, you’ll rise to great heights. But there’s always a feeling of discontent and unsatisfaction from your life.

It’s a compromise. You can’t have the cake and eat it too. Most people try to find a balance. That balance is called mediocrity — the most crowded part of the mountain where most things are nice and comfy, but without the thrill of achieving something extraordinary. And that’s completely alright because sometimes the price we pay to achieve something extraordinary is just too high.

What’s not alright is when people complain that they’re not high up that mountain but also don’t want to leave that nice, comfy, secure patch.


Photo by: Alex Buisse

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