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Saturday, July 11, 2009

Have You Got No Satisfaction?

Who Is Satisfied? Most of us would prefer living a wholly satisfying existence. But, how many have considered the impossibility of this condition? For that matter, how many have even considered what makes us most satisfied? Reality and the demands it places upon all can soon make us concede that leading a truly delightful life may be more fiction than fact in terms of what comprises our happiness. Some even make a distinction betwee satisfaction and fun, believing "fun" produces a temporary adrenaline rush that causes blood to flow all throughout the body and excites our senses. Whereas, satisfaction is contentment as a state of being at ease in one’s situation. When surveyed, most of us say we are contented with our present condition. A recent Harris poll (Reilly and Simmons, 2003) reports that 57% of Americans indicate they are "very satisfied" with life and 34% say they are "fairly satisfied," leaving a relatively small 8% as being "not very" or "not at all" satisfied. Yet, in public conversation, why do so many of us seem disgruntled with life? Conversations abound with negativity. Self help books become instant best sellers. We constantly complain to our close companions about numerous discomforts and countless mistreatments. Some Studies of Happiness 1. Psychologist Ed Diener (Elias, 2002) responds, "The happiest people all seem to have good friends." They are usually extroverts. 2. DeNeve and Cooper (1998) find happy people are conscientious who like to exert control over themselves and their environment. 3. According to Schimmack & Diener (2002) happy people like themselves while enjoying high self-esteem. 4. And, believe it or not, Tim Kasser and Richard Ryan (1993,1996) find that the elements of the "American Dream" -- striving to become rich, famous, and attractive -- are associated with lower vitality, less self-actualization (fulfillment of potential), and greater physical distress. Diener agrees that "materialism is toxic for happiness." 5. Still, in a University of Michigan study, Campbell finds that when asked what would improve the quality of their life, the first and most frequent answer given my people is "more money." In fact, Myers (2000) finds of 19 possible objectives in life, being "very well-off financially" ranks the highest, well ahead of "developing a meaningful philosophy of life, raising a family, or becoming an authority in my field." Job Satisfaction Almost all of us take pleasure from many things on a daily basis. In turn, we dislike the bulk of the everyday tasks required for survival that seem to interfere with our satisfaction. With a job comes stress and strain that occupies many of our conscious hours. Still, the job is our main source of social standing. Also, the job helps to define who we are and affects our health both physically and mentally. What would we be willing to give up to gain more satisfaction in a job? A 2006 General Social Survey conducted by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago polled job satisfaction. The National Opinion Research Center asked more than 27,000 people how satisfied they are with their work. Researchers say the act of helping others is a common thread among the most satisfying jobs. The top 10 most satisfying jobs (with the percentage of those who reported being "very satisfied") are: •Clergy-87 percent percent •Firefighters-80 percent percent •Physical therapists-78 percent percent •Authors-74 percent •Special education teachers-70 percent •Teachers-69 percent •Education administrators-68 percent •Painters and sculptors-67 percent •Psychologists-67 percent •Security and financial services salespersons-65 percent What does this say about the human condition and the so-called priorities of life? Ken Sheldon (2001) finds American students recount satisfying experiences as those in which they feel a strong sense of self-respect, success in repeating a difficult task, experiences of intimacy with other people, and being free to do things their own way. They were less likely to report satisfying experiences as buying the things they wanted, physical pleasure, or exercising strong influence over others' beliefs and behaviors. A Stinging Reality Interestingly though, market research industry leader Qualtrics finds in a recents survey that 55 percent of Americans feel they are not adequately recognized for the job they do within their occupation. Moreover, 37 percent of respondents who work for an employer feel they are better suited for their boss’s job than their boss is. “It’s interesting that more than half of America’s working class reports inadequate appreciation for their jobs, and more than half would also choose a different job if they could do it again,” says Ryan Smith, Qualtrics Director. “But despite this apparent dissatisfaction, very few respondents would take a pay cut for a more satisfying job — that was the most surprising statistic to me.” 74 percent of those surveyed suggested they would NOT be willing to take a pay decrease in exchange for a more satisfying work experience.

Conclusions Although we tend to complain, we honestly think we are pretty happy in our present stations of life. And, we are conscious that money and its means to securing material possession can aid the acquisition of happiness in our lives. But, we all understand that money does not guarantee us a happier lot. Yet, in reality, those with money will not sacrifice even part of it for other, more honest means of self satisfaction. This, in itself, creates certain dissatisfaction in its compromise. The apparent contradition seems to add credence to the acceptance of the difference between the way we choose to live our lives sacrificing values of contentment to materialism as a basis of so-called happiness. Pools, yachts, vacations, expensive furnishings and gaudy luxuries must make the rich happy. The rest of us look to friendship, intimacy, and self-esteem for continued satisfaction. “If we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a 'thing-oriented' society to a 'person-oriented' society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.” --(April 4, 1967) Martin Luther King, Jr.
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