Wednesday, June 16, 2010

SELF-SATISFACTION: THE ULTIMATE GOAL OF LIFE

Almost everyone, at some point or the other in their life, might have asked themselves about the reason of their birth, the purpose of their life, and the goals that they would like to pursue. These questions, if left unanswered continuously keep posing troubles to the individual and lead to an unknown displeasure and unhappiness.

No matter how much success a person gets, no matter how rich a person becomes, and no matter how many goals are achieved, somehow these questions keep on confronting the person. This will continue until and unless such accomplishments do not lead to self-satisfaction.

The only answer to these questions is to seek self-satisfaction. It is self-satisfaction that can keep an individual away from these troubling questions. Self-satisfaction should thus be the sole quest for human beings. Self-satisfaction should therefore be the ultimate goal of life.

Self-satisfaction is a sense of absolute fulfillment with oneself and ones accomplishments. As simple as may it sound, achieving self-satisfaction is not at all an easy task. But, there are ways in which one can constantly look out for self-satisfaction and in the process find answers to the many unanswered questions that life imposes upon us.

Victor Frankl talked about meaning of life and will to meaning, which means that if an individual has certain meaningfulness in life, then that becomes a driving force for the individual to move forward in life. Frankl says that people tend to go through a blandness or emptiness in life, which refers to existential vacuum and not being able to come out of it is known as existential crisis. The will to meaning helps an individual to overcome this existential crisis. According to Frankl, if a person has a meaning of life, then he/she can survive the toughest conditions of life and come out of it in a positive manner. This will to meaning enables the individual a personal choice to grow and develop, which leads to triumph and self-fulfillment.

According to Frankl, when people go through existential crisis, they try to fill the void by guiding themselves by conformity, conventionality, and traditionality, which do not provide any kind of help. People do not use the freedom to make their own choices in life in order to find their own meaning.

Frankl suggests three ways of finding meaning in life. The first is by experiencing something or someone valued by the individual. This mainly includes experiencing the value of another person such as parents, siblings, friends, lover, etc. In order to develop meaning in the life of the valued person, the individual can develop meaning in his/her own life. The second is by involving oneself in creative deeds such as art, music, writing, invention, etc. The third is by developing virtues such as compassion, bravery, good sense of humour, etc. Once a person finds meaning in life, he/she sets off to a journey of achieving self-satisfaction.

Carl Rogers talks about congruence and incongruence. According to him, people have a real self and an ideal self. The real self is what the person actually is or can be. It is the true potential of the person. The ideal self is what the person feels that he/she should be, which may not be the real potential of the person. People, at times, tend to move towards their ideal self rather than their real self, due to expectations or external pressure. This creates a gap between real self and ideal self. Rogers calls this gap as incongruence. If there is no gap between a person’s real self and ideal self then it is referred to as congruence. In a state of congruence, the individual is well-adjusted and mentally healthy and is maladjusted in the state of incongruence. The more the gap between the real self and the ideal self, the more there is inner conflict and displeasure. The individual feels threatened and anxious. They become defensive, and their thinking becomes rigid and constricted.

For instance, a youngster has his/her own interests and is perhaps very good at it, but chooses not to take it up as a career because it is quite risky and decides to go for something that is more secure. Going for a career that is more secure is more acceptable in the eyes of others and also somewhat guarantees quick success. Here, the real self of the person is that he/she is good in some other activity. But, due to external demands he/she prefers to go away from his/her real potential and prefers to go for something that is more secure. This might prove to be worthwhile initially, but in the long run it only gives dissatisfaction. There is no harm in going for something that is more secure, but it should not be at the expense of one’s true potential and definitely not at the expense of satisfaction.

According to Rogers, we should try not to conform to the expectations of others. We should rather come to terms with our own nature, trust one’s own experience, and accept the fact that other people are different. In this way, the gap between the real self and the ideal self will become lesser and a state of congruence will come into place. Once this happens, in terms of Rogers, the person is said to have become oneself. The becoming of one’s self makes the person what Rogers calls a fully functioning person. The fully functioning person, according to Rogers, acknowledges and expresses all his/her feelings, has no rigidity and preconceptions about what he/she should be, make and rely on their own decisions, acknowledges the feeling of freedom and takes responsibility of his/her decisions, and contributes to life. Becoming oneself and being a fully functioning person brings the person closer and closer to self-satisfaction.

Abraham Maslow talked about self-actualization. Self-actualization is the desire to become more and more what one idiosyncratically is and it is to become everything that one is capable of becoming. It involves the continuous desire to fulfill potentials and become the most complete, the fullest.

According to Maslow, people who have achieved self-actualization have some distinguished features. Self-actualized people are realistically oriented; they accept themselves, others, and the natural world for what they are; they have a lot of spontaneity; they are problem-centered instead of giving up to life difficulties; they have a need for privacy; they are autonomous and independent; they do not buy into stereotypes; they have few intimate relationships that are deeply emotional rather than having shallow relationships with many people; they do not confuse means with ends; they have a philosophical sense of humour, preferably directed towards themselves rather than being directed to others; they have a great ability to be creative; they are non-conformists; and they are open to individual variety.

Apart from this, self-actualization involves what Maslow calls peak experiences. This is a feeling of being more integrated, more at one with the world, more their own boss, more spontaneous, less aware of space and time, and being more perceptive. Being self-actualized and having peak experiences that Maslow talks about, is more or less being self-satisfied.

People should be intrinsically motivated in the things that they do. Intrinsic motivation is the motivation that comes from within the individual rather than from external factors such as money or high status. It is the motivation that comes from the pleasure that one gets from the task itself or from the sense of satisfaction that one gets in completing or even working on a task. Being intrinsically motivated is to be motivated by self-generated factors such as responsibility, freedom to act, development and use of skills and abilities, interesting and challenging work, and opportunities for advancement. These factors have a deeper and longer-term effect.

Usually, in order to earn their bread and butter, people choose a particular career as their work and they have their hobbies for leisure time. They keep their work and hobbies as two distinct things. It will be a lot better if people make their hobby as their work and career. A hobby is something that people enjoy to do and use it as a stress buster when they get tired of their work. Instead, if their hobby becomes their work then they will enjoy their work and be happy with the kind of work they will be doing. This will make them intrinsically motivated towards their work. Not only it will make them enjoy their work, but it will also drive them to excel in it.

The work of a person plays a very major role in one’s life. Work should not be seen as something that is burdensome; it should be something that is fun. If a person’s hobby becomes his/her work then he/she will have more and more interest in it, which will give a sense of satisfaction. When a person gets up in the morning, he/she should not say, “oh no, I have to work.” He/she should rather be excited and say, “oh yes, I am going to work.” This excitement and joy can only be there if the person is intrinsically motivated towards work, which can only happen if the person’s hobby becomes his/her work. In the long run, this will become an immense source of satisfaction.

A high level of self-awareness is required for self-satisfaction. An individual should have a realization of his/her strengths and weaknesses. This will make the person know about how good or bad he/she is at various things. This will also make the person more focused and will enable him/her to know exactly what he/she wants from life. When a person knows exactly what he/she wants to do, it generates an immense amount of positive feeling within that person and leads to a lot of self-worth.

This high level of self-awareness is very much similar to what Howard Gardner calls intrapersonal intelligence. People who are high on intrapersonal intelligence have a good capacity of being introspective and self-reflective. They are intuitive and skillful in recognizing their own feelings and motivations. It includes having a deep level of understanding, knowing ones strengths and weaknesses, realization of what makes one unique, and having the ability to predict one’s own reactions and emotions.

A high level of self-awareness or being high on intrapersonal intelligence also enables the individual to understand the meaning of success in its true sense. Success has different meanings for different people. There are individual differences in what people may desire and their meaning of success differentiates accordingly. Knowing one’s strengths and weaknesses gives a clear picture of these individual differences. This realization helps in coping with failure to a great extent and leads to a lot of emotional stability, which in the long run helps in getting close to self-satisfaction.

The realization of the true meaning of success also leads the person not to make inappropriate social comparisons. Comparing oneself with others is a very common phenomenon and it can turn out to be quite useful in assessing oneself. However, this may also be misleading. If one person is strong in a particular ability then it does not mean that the other person also is strong in that ability. Someone else, due to various reasons, might get success easily. Comparing oneself with that person might be disheartening and may make the person become impatient and lose focus. Rather than following his/her own interests, the person might try to do something else in which he/she may not be that good in. While comparing himself/herself with the other person, the individual might have a sense failure, which is wrong. That person is successful in his/her own way and making comparisons with him/her is inappropriate, which should not be done.

Delay of gratification is something that becomes very important in achieving self-satisfaction. People, at times, forget about their larger goals and become satisfied by smaller and relatively insignificant goals. They also, at times, ignore their larger goals in order to achieve the smaller ones. It is true that achieving small things is important, but it should not be at the expense of the larger goals that are in fact the main goals of the individual. An individual might achieve something that gives immediate pleasure and in the bargain may not be able to look at the larger picture. This can be harmful and cause dissatisfaction in the long run. The person should rather be sensible enough and be able to assess things properly. This may require ignoring the small, little pleasures in order to achieve the larger and much more satisfying goals in life.

Life can be highly unpredictable. Various ups and downs may occur throughout one’s life. There are moments of happiness as well as sadness. All this may create a lot of instability within oneself. The only way to maintain a proper composure in life is to seek and eventually achieve self-satisfaction. It is the seeking of self-satisfaction that guides the person through all the turbulence of life. Achieving self-satisfaction should be the main criteria in whatever the person wants to do.

39 comments:

Tausif said...

This is extremely well written. It felt as if I was reading a book of an accomplished author. I think your writing skills have matured to the point where you can have your own book published. You should definitely start work on the book you were thinking about.

Saif said...

Thank you very much. I don't know if my writing skills are that good ...

Yeah I have to go back on working on my back ... it's just a matter of time when I get back to it ...

The Panorama said...

I dropped by from Merlins blog and am so glad I did. Your blog makes great read.

You wrote:
"When a person gets up in the morning, he/she should not say, “oh no, I have to work.” He/she should rather be excited and say, “oh yes, I am going to work.” This excitement and joy can only be there if the person is intrinsically motivated towards work, which can only happen if the person’s hobby becomes his/her work. In the long run, this will become an immense source of satisfaction."

I am lucky enough to be one of those people. But it took a while getting here. I have tried my hand at various other things too.
For me when I became a mom, the meaning of life became clear.

You have taken up different things in your post. I think this is the best part:

"Delay of gratification is something that becomes very important in achieving self-satisfaction. People, at times, forget about their larger goals and become satisfied by smaller and relatively insignificant goals. They also, at times, ignore their larger goals in order to achieve the smaller ones. It is true that achieving small things is important, but it should not be at the expense of the larger goals that are in fact the main goals of the individual."

That was excellent. I am going to focus on the larger goals more.

Thanks for such a good, enlightening post. Cheers:-)

Saif said...

@ The Panorama
Thanks a lot for liking it ... and thank you for following my blog :)

Get Good Grades said...

I love the statement about "no matter how rich a person becomes and..".. Because it's so true.

Life is about self-satisfaction.. No doubt! :-)

But as we all can agree on: The other ditch is just being happy and doing nothing else.

Nehha N Josshi said...

Very well written and very meaningful too.

Saif said...

@ Get Good Grades
You're right about just being happy and doing nothing else ... but to experience that, self-satisfaction is required ...



@ Nehha
Great to know that you feel that way :)

anu said...

Respected sir, Firstly i would like to applaud you for your extra ordinary writings which is reflecting the core n basic psychological theories but on the other hand (or in applied manner) i would also like to ask you that how many people r u knowing who r really striving and working to get themselves satisfied?? In the present scenario do you think anyone has time to think about satisfaction, where people are running for making their lives full of name and fame, more n more materialistic and still they are not satisfied with their materialistic world... I learnt a lot from this place where people are running to get every thing whether they need it or not. Real satisfaction is some where far far from our life...........

Saif said...

@ Anu
Your comment has said it all ... and that's the purpose of writing this article, which i have clearly mentioned ... most of the people are running after monetary gains and even though they achieve it, they still feel dissatisfied, they feel that something is missing (like i mentioned in the post) ... this is why self-satisfaction should be the main the goal of life ...

Tiffany said...

I really like this article. If anyone is looking to increase satisfaction, check out the Excellence Tree on twitter, or the excellencetree.com... this site deals with improving satisfaction and goals, and I have found it really helpful.

Amanda Nguyen said...

Your writing is exceptional and your ideas are on point! Great job on explaining each concept and applying it to situations we face. You definitely expanded the definition of self-satisfaction.

Saif said...

@ Amanda
Thanks! I really appreciate your kind words. :)

Seb said...

Wow! This article makes a lot of sense to me! I was googling this topic and came across this. From the very first paragraph I couldn't stop reading. I read the whole thing non-stop and it is rare for me to usually do something like that. Thankyou for this great piece of work! I hope you get a lot of self satisfaction from what this.

Saif said...

@ Seb
Thanks for the appreciation. Glad to know that you read the whole article non-stop ... keeping in mind the length of the article, perhaps a lot of people might not do that :D

Aman said...

Hey Saif
Just read your article and must say it's very good...
I have been searching my ultimate goal of life from past 4 yrs but never had any idea from where to start..
this article of ur's has helped me alot and have strted working on it...
Thanks alot.....
still i have a long way to go...
keep up the good work....

Farah said...

I believe in all what you mentioned in this article, it might be too long for a person who doesn't read a lot, or for who's a slow reader:p, but the good thing that I loved and enjoyed reading it till the end :D !
Self satisfaction is what I started to work on ,not long time ago :)
Great article!

Saif Farooqi said...

@ Aman
Good to know that this article of mine has helped you in some way ... yes, we all have a long way to go, but when we have a proper direction then the journey itself becomes highly fulfilling ...
Good Luck!

Saif Farooqi said...

@ Farah
Thanks for your kind words :)

Rujuta Xavier said...

Well written Saif....

Saif Farooqi said...

Thanks Rujuta :)

Anonymous said...

Self-satisfaction is a bliss in life. Only one who lives with it can understand its true worth.
A nice read here:
http://asknrj.com/i-have-achieved-that-i-wanted-from-life-but-i-still-feel-that-i-am-not-happy/

Anonymous said...

Wow. I've read a lot of articles and psych forums looking for answers on many things from personality disorders, depression and been going through somewhat of a life crisis and was in a unhealthy relationship. You really write things in simpler more digestible way and show great insight . It's been very helpful

Saif Farooqi said...

Thank you! :)

Siddharth Gautam said...

Let me make a slightly different point. This article adresses very well indeed the concerns of people who have the luxury of options. However, a vast majority of population of the world lives in such as state that they do not have many choices at their disposal. Do you have anything to suggest for the benefit of those people?

Saif Farooqi said...

Siddhart, I see what you're trying to say. But, nobody really has the luxury of options. Options are created and are well thought out. By saying that people seek self-satisfaction only when they have the "luxury of options" would be in a way demeaning the effort and ability of people who have overcome all odds and have been leading a successful and satisfying life.

Yes, indeed it is difficult for people who are not financially stable or who are poor. But, then again there have been so many people who have come from poor backgrounds, but still went on to achieve what they wanted to.

Abraham Lincoln was the son of a poor farmer, but he went to become the president of USA. Bill Gates and Birla are other examples. There are endless examples of movie stars both in Hollywood as well as the Indian film industry, who according to you didn't have the luxury of options. Some of the names that come to my mind are Sylvester Stallone, Richard Gere, Amitabh Bacchan, Dev Anand, Rajnikant, Manoj Bajpai, Shah Rukh Khan, Akshay Kumar. All these people didn't have the luxury of options, but they still went on to achieve what they wanted to.

If you follow the news then you might have read about the son of a rickshaw puller who became an IAS officer or recently the daughter of an auto-driver topping the CA exams. Even my father and uncles came from lower middle class families and have now gone on to become highly successful people who are very satisfied their lives.

What I'm trying to say that is the things that I have written about the ways to achieve self-satisfaction holds for everyone. The concept of "will to meaning" that Frankl talks about (which I have mentioned in the post) did not come up in his study room. He came up with it when he was in a Nazi prison. Being a prisoner himself, he decided to help others in the prison and found meaning in life. I suggest you to read Frankl's book "Man's Search for Meaning" where he describes his experiences as a prisoner in a Nazi camp and how being there, he came up with the concept of "will to meaning".

So, there's no such thing of having a luxury of options. It's a myth. If you really want something then you can find endless ways of achieving it. Saying that seeking self-satisfaction (especially the ways that I have mentioned) is only for people who have a luxury of options and not for others is a mere excuse.

Anonymous said...

I don't know exact definition of self-satisfaction. But, in its broad meaning wanking should be included as a physical self-satisfaction

Arunima Poricha said...

Sir!! This article is amazing!! :)though I liked all articles that I have read till now.. but this was one which I could relate to... because that's exactly the conflict that I am facing... I am happy I chanced upon this one... I really liked the part about saying "oh yes I've got work"... very inspiring :)gives a feeling that life really isn't all that harsh and tough... Thank you so much!:)

Saif Farooqi said...

Thank you Arunima! I'm really glad that you not only liked the article, but have been inspired by it. I also appreciate that despite being overburdened with all your stuff, you still take out time and read my articles, especially this one which is a bit long. :)

Anas Chemmala said...

Hi Saif!

Your article is really awesome! Very true and well written! Thank you very much for this effort of sharing it here for public to read which may help to improve their lives. Great job! :)

At the same time 1 small request from my experience of reading books and articles of same kind, please don't go for a false way of marketing to get more reach to your articles by adding stuff which will attract more readers. Stay true the same way and the originality will always be appreciate.

Many books on self development I read, will sometimes help me develop myself and some makes me feel good! I don't want the second one!

So, once again thank you for the article and great going! All the best for future works!

Thanks,

Anas

Gomathi said...

Hey Saif... This was a great article.

Ur definitions on congruence and in-congruence, intrinsically motivated are some thing which gave me crystal clear mindset.

Enjoyed reading it in such a way, that i did not leave a single comment posted here...:D

Congratz and great way to go...:)

Saif Farooqi said...

Thank you Gomathi! Really nice to know that you liked the article. :)

Abhi said...

Elaboration is great & also the organization. Very nice article.
Thanks
Abhinav

Unknown said...

It's an amazing article,one of the best articles that I have ever read. I am a teenager and I could use this article for my growth as a healthy being of society in future. I'm glad that I read this article. Thank you for your lovely enlightening words.

Meghana Narayan swamy said...

It's an amazing article,one of the best articles that I have ever read. I am a teenager and I could use this article for my growth as a healthy being of society in future. I'm glad that I read this article. Thank you for your lovely enlightening words.

Meghana Narayan swamy said...

It's an amazing article,one of the best articles that I have ever read. I am a teenager and I could use this article for my growth as a healthy being of society in future. I'm glad that I read this article. Thank you for your lovely enlightening words.

Meghana Narayan swamy said...

It's an amazing article,one of the best articles that I have ever read. I am a teenager and I could use this article for my growth as a healthy being of society in future. I'm glad that I read this article. Thank you for your lovely enlightening words.

Saif Farooqi said...

Thank you Meghnana! Glad that you liked it; and it feels good to know that you find this article helpful for your personal growth. Take care!

Santhakumar R said...

Thanks a lot for this wonderful job... I am so happy that I thought in this way... thank so much..

Arun Mathews said...

wow. Thanks Saif. This article changed my mind. You are very inspirational.

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