Right up until my late 20s, I was chronically dissatisfied. I was never unhappy per se, but rather, lived with a "grass is greener" mentality on life. Always thinking about what's to come, what's better, what's not happening now.
Lots of people live like this. Sure, Instagram et al can be blamed, but chronic dissatisfaction is actually quite a natural feeling for human beings. We're not conditioned to be content with what we have; we're taught to want more.
The "more" isn't normally quantifiable; rarely, if ever, does a person get a higher salary, a better gym body, or nicer car and decide it is enough. Chronic dissatisfaction seeps in and tells you there's more out there.
How much do you need in your bank account to be happy? How big does your house need to be for complete satisfaction? How flat does your stomach need to be to feel sexy? The answer is always "more".
That's chronic dissatisfaction for you. It stalks you. It's always there, always nibbling at you. It judges you and it places unrealistic expectations on you.
My chronic dissatisfaction began when I had my quarter-life crisis in my early 20s. This is when I stupidly started to feel old and unaccomplished, despite never giving life a chance.
University hadn't prepared me for real life, I couldn't get employment in my chosen field, I didn't love my body, I felt like I never had any money. Chronic dissatisfaction is born out of this inability to appreciate what you have because you retain a fantasy of what could be.
The problem here is simple. If and when you achieve your fantasy, it only fulfils you for a little while. I found that out when I got the job and the body and the cashflow. You become complacent and start dreaming up a new fantasy. Something else, you tell yourself, to look forward to.
A goal that will keep you motivated to keep working and pushing forward – be it six figures because high fives aren't enough to feel comfortable, slimmer hips or bigger arms to look more like the Instafamous crowd, or the dream of a new relationship because you're complacent in your current one.
If any of this sounds relevant to you, you're probably now wondering how on earth you solve chronic dissatisfaction. How do you make sure you're not stuck with it forever?
After going through a really bad year a few years back, I took stock of my life and realised I needed just four things to be happy. A safe, warm, dry, and comfortable place to call home. My mental and physical health.
A job I felt valued in. And someone to love, who loved me back. Everything else was just trivial. My life was full and rich. It wasn't perfect, but it was good. Good enough to be satisfied on a daily basis so I didn't walk around with an eternal sense of longing.
Those four things won't give everybody "chronic satisfaction". Everybody will have a different set of life things that should, in essence, leave you wanting for nothing.
So find yours. Dig deep into your values and get a solid understanding of what you need – not what you want – to be satisfied in life. Not what you desire for your perfect life. Not what other people have that you envy. Just the basic stuff you need to be reasonably fulfilled.
Chronic dissatisfaction is also highly intertwined with self-esteem and you should look at that too. When you're insecure, you always want more.
When I came into my 30s I realised that I'd probably never look or feel better, and I owed it to myself to appreciate what I had. I'd accepted my body type, understood what I needed to feel healthy, taken note of my imperfections but focused on what I liked about myself instead. I'd taken what my momma gave me and worked with it, rather than railing against it.
For me, such realisation's are what have spurred on the last few years of chronic satisfaction. I can honestly say I'm happy. Life's not perfect, and often it's far from ideal when things are going wrong. But I have the safety of knowing I have what is most important to me. Will I have it all forever? Maybe not. Which is just another reason to be satisfied today.