“After you get what you want you don’t want it. If I gave you the moon, you’d grow tired of it soon,” Marilyn Monroe sung in “After You Get What You Want.” There’s a bit of truth in the sentiment of never being satisfied. In a lot of ways contentment is a choice. You decide when your meal is satisfying, when you’re sexually satisfied, when you’ve had enough at the bar. But life is long and has few predictable outcomes. You—I, anyone—are in a great position if you’ve gotten everything you’ve wanted (earned) and still aren’t necessarily fulfilled.
Last week I pondered if we should study what we love or what would make us money. I chose what I loved at the cost of financial security and I am totally happy with that decision. Today I want to talk about the other parts of Maslow’s pyramid.
Where I come from college isn’t a thing that people do the way it is for other people. I am from the ghetto, yep. Teachers, mentors, people don’t treat you like you’re on the path to college or higher education. They don’t treat you like you’re even going to graduate high school. And they treat you this way from the very first day of school and onward. College isn’t a looming inevitability like it is for many other people. It’s something you have to decide you are going to do and pull teachers aside and demand that they guide you. For me, going to college was this massive goal, it was the only way I could be socially mobile, it was the only way I could get out of the ghetto, it was the only way I could have more than what was presented to me. Then I got in. Once I got into college it was all about getting a job because why else did I go to college, anyway? After 6 internships, I got a job doing exactly what I wanted to do: this. I have an awesome apartment with 3 other awesome ladies. I am pretty fucking lucky. I set out to do all the thing I told myself I would do when I was 14-year-old girl day dreaming: college, writing, sweet apartment, self-sufficiency, I fucking did it. And you’ll fucking do it too.
The truth is: most goals are attainable even if they feel infinitely out of reach. Then what? Do we wallow and bathe in the glory of our achievements? Do we just seek promotion after promotion? Does your goal then just become about making more money or being boss? What do you when you’ve fulfilled most of your goals? No matter how much pleasure I get out of life, I am not going to be at CollegeCandy.com forever, nor can I go from home to work everyday and complacently do nothing else. Nor can you. That’s OK. How do we politely ask for more out of ourselves and life without feeling a bit greedy?
Establish New Goals
My career was my priority because I knew what I did with my brain would dictate the life that I was able to lead. Now it’s time to look outside of what you’ve planned. Maybe your goal was to be in a happy relationship? Become a certain size? Resolve a health issue or just graduate unscathed? Then you did it. The next big thing doesn’t have to be big at all. We need to be kept on our toes in order to get that heart thumping, tingly feeling out of life. Instead of school and work I decided to invest more time in my social life. My goal is to be able to throw a party, all by myself, without having a nervous breakdown and inviting friends from various circles into one setting without fearing that they might all hate each other. My longterm goals are to write a book and eventually commit to doing something that will better society. I have to push myself out of my comfort zone in new ones to keep things interesting and things, well, they stay interesting.
Don’t Make Your Life About Work And Goals
Americans never feel like they are doing enough. We are statically the most stressed generation! Leisure time is just as important to self-actualization and fulfillment as anything else. The positive events in your life you remember most vividly are typically when you were surrounded by people you liked, doing something you loved and probably not working. Investing in your free time and getting enriching experiences out of that free time should become a priority. That could be a hobby, a club, getting laid or marathoning a TV show that gets you going. You must do things that give you pleasure.
Choose To Be Happy
We have to choose to be happy, to be satisfied, to be fulfilled because there is too much life left to be lived to stew in unpredictable misery. You’ve been dumped. A family member is ill. You’re overwhelmed with financial woes. There is always a looming threat to our happiness, there is always the potential for disaster and while it is very cheesy to say: we have to make the choice to be happy in the moment. In the literal moment. Maybe when you go home your roommate is annoying and that sucks. Maybe you’re at work and you have to do some menial task. In the minutes or seconds before just remind yourself that you’ve got it pretty good, that you do good, that you are good and maybe these tiny crumbs of satisfaction will lead to something much, much bigger. We don’t know when our lives our going to end so simmering from dread to dread isn’t practical nor is it at all, in anyway, satisfying.