Why Can’t We Just Be Satisfied?

Why can’t I be satisfied? I am busy. I didn’t have a bad childhood. My family is alive. I have some money on the side to spend. I have friends that I can go out whenever I want. Yes, maybe there are some problems in the country, but people who are worse off than me are happier than me. I will be happy with what I have!?

Although we are going through difficult times, historically we live in very comfortable times. Our life expectancy is much higher than it used to be. The diseases and fears that paralyzed previous generations have largely been eradicated. Now from survivingrather to realize oneself We have become people who live for it and have the resources to afford it. However, all this is not enough to satisfy us all the time. Yes, positive events in life make us happy, but this feeling gives way to getting used to and mediocrity over time.

What if we didn’t exist to be satisfied?

The evolutionary perspective provides an important ground for understanding in psychology research. It allows us to observe human psychology not only through the individual but also through the species. But would it be beneficial for the species if humans were constantly satisfied?

According to the researchers, the answer is NO (Baumeister et al., 2001). If satisfaction and pleasure were continuous, there would be little incentive for the genre to reap future gains. So pleasure and satisfaction by themselves are not such positive feelings for the genre. There are 4 basic psychological mechanisms of our sense of satisfaction being temporary.

  1. Boring

As humans, we are much more capable of being bored than other creatures. For a dog or cat, a simple napkin or ball can be a shortcut to fun, but we resort to inconceivable methods to eliminate boredom. In a 2014 study, participants were asked to sit alone in a room for 15 minutes and think. There is a small electroshock mechanism on the table in the room, which is not harmful even if it hurts. When the participants were asked whether they planned to give them electricity before the experiment, each said that they would not do this, and if necessary, they could give money to the researchers to avoid exposure to electroshock.

So what could the result of the study be? Interestingly, 67% of the men and 25% of the women gave themselves electroshock more than once.

These people were so uncomfortable staying with their own thoughts that even giving them an electric shock seemed more reasonable. For this reason, many applications we use in our daily life (social media, games, TV series, etc.) are full of features that pull us out of boredom. They don’t even have to be fun or rewarding for it. It’s enough for us to at least postpone the trouble for a while.

  1. Negativity Bias

The negativity bias says that we pay more attention to negative situations in life than positive ones. As pessimistic as it may sound, researchers simply evil is stronger than good it means. In other words, we pay more attention to negative events while looking at ourselves, other people, life and the future. When we think about our childhood experiences, we usually think of negative ones more quickly. Even if we say that we had a pretty good childhood, we are still quicker and more active in remembering our negative memories. So why are we doing this? Are we all masochists who enjoy pain? Maybe some of us do, but the reason most of us do this is again evolutionary. Positive emotions are very important, beautiful, rewarding and meaningful to the person experiencing them. But negative emotions and experiences are not only bad and upsetting, but also dangerous, frightening, and worrying. The last emotions I count are those that are essential for our survival. The experiences or people that bring up these feelings should be identified and resolved immediately, or my chances of survival may be reduced. This unconscious mechanism forces us to remember negative events faster and more and to notice them more quickly. That’s why we have an involuntary bias towards negative emotions.

  1. rumination

This concept, which is badly translated into Turkish as cognitive rumination, means that we replay and think about a subject, event, thought, experience in our minds. Thinking about an embarrassing moment you had in the classroom over and over or over and over again in your mind to someone who treats you badly… The list goes on and on. We all do rumination. I usually try to experience the same scenario over and over again, trying to recognize potential dangers or come up with a strategy for what to do in a similar situation. However, this can be a very small and useful part of rumination. For most of the rest, I unnecessarily experience the same negative emotion and make myself suffer over and over as if I ruminate, in order to perpetuate it in my life. That’s why I start using this mechanism, which I can use to learn lessons and not repeat the same mistake, to plunge myself into an inextricable pit.

  1. Hedonic Adaptation

Hedonic means related to pleasure. Adaptation is adaptation. From this point of view, we can say that hedonic adaptation is the disappearance of the effects of the feelings that give pleasure in the body and the return of the body to the state before the pleasure. It might be a little confusing, let’s open this a little bit. For example, you are in a moderate state of happiness/peace or you are anxious and nervous. You have successfully passed the exam or project you entered. You are happy, proud, successful and satisfied. How long will these feelings be with you? 1 day? 2 days? 1 week? I don’t know about you, but I know very few people who have experienced the effect of good news for more than a week. Generally, everything loses its effect over time, no matter how pleasing it is. In other words, our mood adapts to the baseline.

It sounds sad, well it kind of is. Every positive emotion – as well as negative ones – loses its effect over time and our mood approaches the main line. Of course, there is an evolutionary mechanism here as well. In order to draw new targets and routes, it is necessary that the conditions we are in do not suffice or make us feel as good as before. For a new invention, there must be something that bothers us in the old condition. Why would someone who has attained complete peace and satisfaction embark on a new quest to change this situation?

So what do we do now?

Why do we live if we can never be satisfied in life?

Here we come closer to the main answer. Not being satisfied does not mean a failure or a loss. On the contrary, it means that we are perfectly normal and functional people. We fulfill the requirements of our nature. Just as a cat gets excited by small moving objects, or birds clean their nests of litter, we find pleasure in constantly pursuing new goals and experiences that will reward us. This pleasure may be enough for us until we find a new target, but it would be most beneficial for us to switch to another after consuming it. In this process, we may experience dissatisfaction from time to time, which is normal. It gives us the message that maybe we should try something new. It means we need meaningful and new victories in our lives.

In order to achieve something, we should not run away from dissatisfaction and discomfort, on the contrary, we should go above them and reach out from these feelings to the next object of satisfaction. When we look at the behavior of successful people, they use these emotions as a guide. It is not in our long-term interest to overshadow these feelings with distractions that are simple, non-rewarding, and do not carry us forward.

In this process, we must create our own values ​​and perform the behaviors we value in order to become the person we ideally establish. We should spend our limited attention and attention on activities and thoughts that we find important and meaningful. For this, we need to develop a careful plan and viable strategies. We should start by planning our day and our wishes. If we succeed in these plans and see that we are having a meaningful/valuable day, we can celebrate this victory and experience the feeling of satisfaction again.

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