Sta Hungry Stay Foolish

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

A blog by Leon Oudejans

Happiness and satisfaction

Nowadays, I am happy and satisfied but for two decades I was not. I’ve never wondered how you should define happiness and/or satisfaction. It’s just something that you “know” deep inside. A Farnam Street newsletter reference to a late 2018 Quartz article, on Daniel Kahneman‘s views on happiness and satisfaction, made me wonder how I view both.

Farnam Street‘s Brain Food #316 states:

“Kahneman contends that happiness and satisfaction are distinct. Happiness is a momentary experience that arises spontaneously and is fleeting. Meanwhile, satisfaction is a long-term feeling, built over time and based on achieving goals and building the kind of life you admire.” Note LO: italic markings are mine.

The above description includes two well-known dimensions: Space and Time. I think, feel and believe that satisfaction is a specific feeling which is Space-related (how, what, where, who), while happiness is a generic feeling that is Time-related (when). It’s much easier answering why you are (not) satisfied then why you are (not) happy. Latter would may invoke a general reply like: “(just about) everything (in life)”.

The Farnam Street phrase of “achieving goals and building the kind of life you admire” reminds me of my Needs, Wants and Beliefs concept (my blogs). In that concept, satisfaction would relate to the fulfilment of the Needs and/or Wants stage in our life. The degree of fulfilment determines whether you feel (dis)satisfied. Similarly, happiness would be part of the Beliefs stage in our life.

Labelling happiness as a belief underpins the generic and long-term aspects of (un)happiness. A (child’s) feeling of (un)happiness may thus well be the earliest belief in our life. This would then also explain its tremendous impact in the rest of our life (eg, teenager, adult, senior). Actually, this whole idea and thinking are brand new to me. To be continued.

At the same time of considering this topic, I noticed a NYT opinion by David Brooks: The difference between happiness and joy. Unlike happiness, joy is indeed “a momentary experience that arises spontaneously and is fleeting”. Possibly, this debate is about semantics but I doubt it.

If happiness is indeed a belief then the pursuit of happiness (my blogs #1, #2, #3) is nothing more – or less – than an introspective journey (ie, inside your mind). Hence, happiness can thus be found but only inside yourself, else it would be external temporary fleeting joy. Considering my current phase in life, this (rather unexpected) conclusion appears true.

True (1983) by Spandau Ballet

artists, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2

Note: all markings (bolditalicunderlining) by LO unless stated otherwise

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