The year 2020 is the year of satisfaction! You read right – satisfaction! For far too long, many of us have been living lives that overflow with responsibility but trickle with contentment. I’m not writing about what someone else told me, I’m sharing what I’ve experienced firsthand. There have been too many moments, days and years when I settled for “just enough” when what I really wanted was joy. How did this happen? I, like many others, became confused about the difference between primary and secondary satisfactions. The former, which most of us yearn for, is hard to come by in a society that lauds perpetual busy-ness, instant gratification, and surface connections. And the latter are poor substitutes that take the sting out of feeling empty and exploited. Let’s explore these distinctions further. Primary satisfactions are what make life worth living. While the forms they take vary from person to person, the underlying impulses are usually the same. Among them are feeling cared for and supported, contributing to something meaningful and worthwhile, being pleased with ourselves, and helping others, to name a few. When we don’t experience these, because we dwell in toxic environments or lack time and energy, we reach for convenient placeholders. For example, we’ll substitute entertainment for companionship, status for achievement, looking good for feeling good and donating money for investing time. Now let me be clear, entertainment, status, good looks, and money are fine, they’re just not sufficient for a happy life. The trap of secondary satisfactions also shows up in subtler ways. I often experience it in my eating habits. I reach for sugar when I long for pleasure, salt when I want flavor or excitement, and fat when I need comfort. The sad truth is that I’m not alone in my behavior. Millions of people are just like me, which is why it’s no surprise that so many of us are living with chronic illness and disease. We aren’t to blame for our current state. After all, our culture and economy are built upon secondary satisfactions. Yet, if we ever want to be and live well, we are going to have to depart from the status quo to pursue what we really want in life. This takes courage because it requires authenticity and comes with no short cuts or quick fixes. To get the satisfaction that we really want and surely deserve, we have to risk being real with ourselves and with others. And this will cost us, our defenses, illusions and maybe even some relationships. But what we stand to gain from our audacity is priceless – more experiences of genuine fulfillment and unfettered joy. The year 2020 is our year of satisfaction. Let’s claim it!
Rebeccah Bennett is founder and principal of Emerging Wisdom LLC and its subsidiary InPower Institute. For more information on InPower Institute, a center for community healing and optimal living – and the programming the center (located at 4125 Humphrey in South City) provides, visit www.InPowerinstitute.com or call (314) 832-1669.
Column republished with permission from Rebeccah Bennett’s “Liberating Living” series.