Why ‘Wonderful’ and ‘Perfect’ Leaves So Many People Unsatisfied (Vita. Consilio. 05.19.17)
How is it that some people can seemingly have it all in life but still end up unsatisfied and unhappy?
Let me tell you a story about Rebbie.
When Rebbie was a child, she envisioned her life. She dreamed of going to college, working an executive level job in the corporate world, becoming a public speaker, buying a two-story house in Boston, and essentially living the life.
When she was 16, she graduated at the top of her high school class, received a full scholarship to an Ivy League school, majored in business and public policy, and graduated by the age of 19. She had reached her goal one year earlier than planned and thought that after completing college she would be satisfied and happy.
Well, she wasn’t. The celebration and ecstasy of her graduating from college lasted less than 24 hours. She quickly looked for the next big thing.
Three weeks after graduation, she got her dream job. She thought as soon as she got her first check, she would be happy.
She got her first check, and then her second, and then her third. Still wasn’t happy. After six months, she got a pay raise. She still wasn’t satisfied. She thought she needed more.
She had very little needs but many wants. She became a public speaker, represented her company well, and was very knowledgeable about topics she spoke about. But she rewrote every speech three times because it “wasn’t perfect enough.”
She even wrote a book that became a bestseller. And when people told her how much they loved it, she doubted their words. Later, she married, bought her dream house, and even had a child. She took on a second job to fill that need for more money. But she was not satisfied.
Still, she felt she needed more. One day, she looked around and felt like she hadn’t done anything of significance with her life. She felt empty, lost, broken, unhappy, and unsatisfied.
If you asked her to describe her life, she would say it’s “wonderful” and “perfect”. Ask her why she felt she needed more — to do more, to have more, to be more — she couldn’t really give an answer.
Rebbie isn’t just one person in Boston. Rebbie represents hundreds, probably thousands, of people in every country of the world who have accomplished much and who have obtained much but who still want more.
I’ve had my share of such experiences. Setting goals. Accomplishing something worth noting. And then feeling like it is not enough. Not really happy with the achievement.
Here’s what I’ve learned.
It is normal human nature to want more. If we didn’t want more, it’s likely that amazing things in this world would not be done. Setting goals, achieving goals, and aiming to build upon previous success is a brilliant process through which we come to discover life’s meaning and fulfill our purpose.
However, we cannot look to our achievements to define us. What we do on the surface will never be enough. It will never be perfect because we are not perfect. If you look for success, material things, and people to be enough, you will always be unhappy and unsatisfied.
Third, what you do is not as important as who you do it for. The happiest, most satisfied people live lives of service. It’s never about the job you have or the money you make. It’s about how you serve and give.
Your ability to enjoy the journey and the process it takes to get there is what makes the effort worth it. There is really no end to the journey, only a continuous filling of joy and satisfaction from learning to enjoy what you get to do, whether it’s perfect or not.
Until next time, Vita. Consilio.