At the completion of high school, it was customary in the school I attended to prepare and give out yearbooks where the graduating students would write their last words as they complete their high school education. Reading back those last words surely makes one nostalgic and smile at the thought of our candidness and innocence. In those last words we would write what we aspire to be as we grow older and any other items we wish to put in those last words. I remember to have written that I would like to be satisfied with what I have in my life. I’ve probably said this in one of my previous articles, but it still amazes me how I was wise enough back then to have realized that the toughest thing one can achieve in life is satisfaction in what one has already been given. It is not that I want to flatter myself, but I have to stress that I find it now pretty wise to have understood that satisfaction is indeed a hard-to-reach thing that we all pursue.
How does one reach satisfaction in life? Indeed, one should be appreciative of what they have, as appreciation is an important ingredient of satisfaction although not the only one. We may appreciate what we have but still consider it not to be enough. But is satisfaction or the thought that something is indeed enough something desirable? Some people may argue that satisfaction may lead one to restrict their efforts from achieving more, to remain in the status quo. I argue that someone who lacks satisfaction certainly lacks happiness as well. I personally cannot see someone who constantly focuses on what is not enough being happy with their lives.
One thing that I have come to realize with age is that more of anything does not necessarily lead to more satisfaction. I have come to realize that scarcity and therefore the lack or absence of things leads to satisfaction with the little that one has. Have you noticed that when something that we used to possess, be it something material or non-material, the moment we suddenly loose it we suddenly realize just how much that thing, which we have mostly taken for granted or have complained about a lot, is valuable and certainly enough to make us happy?
A cousin of mine who had newly moved to Europe once said to me that, in Europe people get all the basic stuff like housing and a car easily because these are affordable. And funnily, he would not have afforded these two items which are pretty much luxuries if he had lived in Ethiopia, but yet he did not find much satisfaction in the ease of owning these two assets in Europe. This is a simple indication that when things are easily accessible, the satisfaction we derive from owning those things diminishes. In Ethiopia, easy access to water and electricity is challenging. Because that is so, we get satisfied with the little access that we have because we understand their values. In another example, I have read somewhere that children owning a lot of toys get less satisfaction and happiness from playing with the toys than those children with very limited access to toys. And it is even advised not to give them whatever they asked for because if we do, the level of appreciation and satisfaction, and therefore happiness diminishes.
So in a nutshell, more of assets, more of money, more of friends, more of health does not necessarily lead to more satisfaction. I guess this is a reminder that one should be thankful for having less, because with less, there is more value in things and in people, and therefore more satisfaction and happiness.