How Can We Be Totally Self-Satisfied?

This is an overwhelming question that has been on my mind a lot recently, especially due to the Covid-19 epidemic. Also, philosophical overthinking is just a strong point of mine – as many of you are aware. But really this current climate has really made me re-evaluate the idea of being satisfied -especially self-satisfied.

In a little poll I did 68% of people felt that they were unsatisfied with life. Many of which were probably purely reacting to Covid-19. When I asked if they felt more or less satisfied with life there was an interesting split. Some of the responses were:

  • Some people felt ‘cabin fever’ because they were so close to their friends but couldn’t see them.
  • Some ended up being able to do things that they have not been able to do in years. Practice skills and hobbies that they’ve always wanted to pick up.
  • Some people, and this is an interesting one, feel lost.

All of these things I agree with and am feeling myself – you are not alone if you are feeling like this. But the thing I’m going to focus on is this mindset about the feeling loss and purposeless feeling. If you are fine sleeping this isolation off, to my boyfriend – I’m talking to you, or are fine jut chilling doing absolutely nothing and are satisfied with life, then this article probably will seem uninteresting to you. But if you are one of the 68% people feeling alone and dissatisfied, I encourage you to read my opinions and approach to it.

I think that most people would agree, apart from you devil advocates, that ‘being satisfied’ is being content with what you have. It’s the questions about ‘self-satisfied’ and being ‘completely satisfied’ is where I find the problems. In this poll, I directly asked people are you satisfied with your life. I think a fair majority are not satisfied because of the Covid-19 situation. But I think any human when asked on the spot ‘Are you satisfied with life?’ will automatically start to double-take and think am I actually satisfied? Because ultimately, you’re comparing yourself to the idea of ‘complete satisfaction’. Most people may view this as a holiday abroad (I know I would have) or having absolutely no responsibilities, life is easy. But my question is, will you ever reach that point that your life is consistently and completely easy. Would that mean that you would not have anymore ambition? Is it possible for people to not aim higher? Like Dr Seuss’ the Lorax suggested and any anti-capitalist film will suggest – this just isn’t really likely…

When I was at the height of practicing Buddhism (yes that’s a thing) the times that I felt the most enlightened was when I took life for what it was. There were no excuses or expectations. I was completely present and just living in the moment. My productivity increased, my sleep patterns improved, my worries were close to null and I felt the closest to being purely self-satisfied. Now, I’m not going to try and tell everyone they should become a Buddhist. (Can you imagine me trying to persuade some of you lot!?) But, I do think there are elements and mindsets that could be appreciated within the philosophy. For example, the idea of gratitude. In these horrifically uncertain times where I cannot even see what next week will look like, the idea of returning back to basics is so appealing to me. This removal of being satisfied and its relation to materialism means removing the idea of having to have certain things in my life to be satisfied. The focus to fill this huge gap: gratitude.

How can we be grateful when there are new increasing reported deaths on the news? Or, that my life is on hold? Or that no one knows any answers about what’s going to happen? Or that the world has grounded me into my home? You get the picture…

For me, I think it is important to create a system that produces a grateful mindset. Now don’t get me wrong, the last time I heard someone say just have a positive mindset was by a professor in charge of Newcastle uni saying that the coronavirus is not that bad… big oops to him. However, I think in times like this when everything is gloomy and it’s hard to know what to do with ourselves, I’d like to think I could share some advice on how I am coping with it. These are some of my daily habits that I do whilst in quarantine (but also when I’m not) … *

*I’ve included time references so you can see how long I do each activity

  • I write what I’m grateful for (5 mins) – diary linked in comment. I literally write three things that I’m grateful for. Here are honest and truthful things I’ve written over the past 6 months because, trust me, they vary:
  1. A trusted and loving relationship
  2. My family being at the end of the phone/WhatsApp group chat
  3. Not being hungover somehow
  • Affirmation (1 minute: these can be cheesy or blunt)
  1. It’s a bad day not a bad life
  2. Respect and be respected
  3. it’s okay to lie in bed for an entire day
  • Plan and categorise (10-20 mins):
  1. important essentials: lectures/seminars/meetings – class A
  2.  important non-essentials: gym/practice/coursework not due tomorrow/food prep – Class B
  3. non-essential checklist: emails/chill-outs/out-outs/basically anything casual that you want to do – Class C
  • Throughout the day, keep reminding yourself that what you do is enough. The dangerous part:
    1. you should allow yourself to be satisfied if you’ve worked really hard that day…
    2. equally you should allow yourself to be satisfied to have a day off.
  • At the end of the day or at the end of the gym session combined with my stretches I do a little meditation or mindfulness.
    1. some useful ones I listen to are linked in the comments: but I will do a different article about the differences between meditation and mindfulness later. But briefly,
      1. meditation is about creating a peaceful atmosphere maybe setting intentions for the day – here thinking about what you’re grateful for.
      2. mindfulness is basically allowing yourself to be in that moment, allowing yourself to feel whatever you naturally feel.

This brings us to the last and most controversial point that I’ll make. But in light of Covid I have really been exposed to the reality of how ingrained we are with a capitalist mindset. Now, don’t get me wrong – this is not necessarily all bad. As I said at the beginning, I don’t think life is possible without some form of ambition as it gives us drive to aim higher. But equally, I don’t think I have to go into too much detail about how this system has limitations because I’m sure most of you do know the dangers of going too far. And in reality, it does nothing for being self-satisfied – hence the whole, will I ever be satisfied?

Most of the people’s reactions in the poll said that they had no purpose and that’s why they were unsatisfied. This is because we are engrained with the idea of living to work and working to live. Most of us are affected because our uni’s/schools/businesses have closed down. So now we don’t have a motive. Another prime example is the fact that all my tutees who were going to sit exams this summer have called in quits because there is little point. I understand the rationale, even though it is frustrating the lack of passion. But here lies a simple flow diagram that I thought of when breaking into Buddhism of how this operates our lives are:

  • We study to work
  • We work to earn money
  • We earn money to sleep
  • But an even simpler version would be…
  • We sleep earlier only to try and work more productively the next day.
  • Literally this mentality is controlling your sleep…

All I think is that this is emotionally, mentally and to a degree physically draining. No way can you be satisfied if you are not given a chance to be satisfied. This completely has made me re-evaluate how I go about my day-to-day life and continue to be satisfied. I think many of us are waking up with the intention to do something. But since there’s no rigid timetable or timescale of things to do – no wonder many of us feel lost. Right now, I’m focusing/practising on allowing myself to do things because I genuinely want to do them. Continue my Japanese studies, sure. Practice my handstands and push ups? Why not. But really, the most self-satisfied I’ve felt was when I started sleeping because I wanted to sleep. Ate because I want to eat. Picked up a hobby because that’s what I wanted to do. In a short sentence, just using this time whilst I’m in isolation to appreciate the present moment.


The problem? Long term sustainability.  So, we’ve looked at the positive affect of non-materialism and gratitude. But after this pandemic, when we go back to living in the materialistic world – how will this work? A lot of people may like this, but when the necessity of money to live comes in then you’ll be giving credit back to money and what-nots. So, how do we create a sustainable life where we live in a materialistic world yet not be materialistic ourselves?

It’s about balance. Balance in having enough ambition to push yourselves towards the greater good. This greater good may be a promotion or it may be to spend time with family. But equally not ignore the little things or people which/who normally go unrecognised.

Published by lizziemurrayxo

I am a BA linguistics undergraduate at Newcastle University. I am a tutor and absolutely love talking. Education is power

2 thoughts on “How Can We Be Totally Self-Satisfied?

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