Q. I’ve never heard anyone talk about Life Satisfaction at all until I read your book, “Longevity Lifestyle Matters.” I cannot think of any things or events in my life that would qualify as “life satisfaction.” Am I looking for the wrong thing?
A. Life satisfaction is not just one thing. It involves looking over your life to date and deciding how satisfied you are with it. If yes, keep on keeping on. If no, figure out what you need to do to increase your overall satisfaction. Several components impact it, including happiness, gratitude, hope and optimism, an ability to forgive, high EQ, realistic expectations of the self and others, education and learning, mind-set, a balanced sense of self-worth, and—in my brain's opinion—living a longevity lifestyle.
During my childhood, I don’t recall wanting things as much as experiences. I loved getting to do something new and different, loved traveling and seeing see new places and cultures, and loved meeting new people. When I was about age 8, my dad and I climbed 3/4ths of the way up the 10,500-foot Mount Stephen in British Columbia to see the trilobite beds. The fossils were amazing—and I was in 7th heaven, as we used to say! In retrospect, I remember experiencing a sense of satisfaction as we returned to our car.
I’ve had similar sensations of satisfaction over the years with other new adventures, like setting foot on my 7th continent: Antarctica; doing a 17-mile hike up and down Pikes Peak in one day. And visiting Prince Edward Island, the setting for Lucy Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables series. But, in all that, I never recall hearing anyone talking about Life Satisfaction, either.
However, people are talking about it now and some researchers tout it as a key factor in staying younger and healthier for longer.
Not everything in my life will qualify as high Life Satisfaction. Some do as when have finished writing another book; when a Brain Conference seems to go especially well and the audience is responsive and interested and I know that some people will leave with a new perspective; when I am using my creativity to write more short melodies to go between chapters in one of my audio books or have finished filming another set of DVD videos; when I return to another country and see people I have met before and then get to meet new ones; when I get to spend time with “family of choice” and valued colleagues….
There are many small Life Satisfactions. Perhaps I meet an individual who seems rather “down,” and after a few minutes of chatting the person smiles and we wish each other the best for the rest of the day.
Sometimes I make a decision that wasn’t my best option when viewed in retrospect. As I replay it in the way I would like to choose or respond another time, that is another type of satisfaction.
You can evaluate your life in a new way. Have fun doing it. Reward yourself, “Good job!” as applicable. And course correct as needed.