Satisfaction For Sale

Detail of painting by John Rocheleau

Detail of painting by John Rocheleau

Satisfaction is our strongest urge. The desire to satisfy ourselves motivates everything we do in one way or another.

Our self-gratification reflex is not well thought out though. Our choices while under the influence of this intoxicating human imperative are often unwise. Short sighted satisfaction may be easy but it’s not cheap, and willing or not, the debt is always collected. Our drive to satisfy ourselves can then seriously damage us.


Satisfying desire is tricky. If we choose to satisfy ourselves by drinking excessively or taking drugs, we wind up feeling far worse down the line. What begins as our best friend soon becomes our worst enemy. If you are in this category and you don’t know this already — you will.

Addiction befriends us in many guises: food, sex, relationships, religion, mindless entertainment, self-help workshops, gurus, priests and pastors, mentors and friends. They can all become powerful addictions, satisfying the fear of owning our lives and taking productive action. Avoidance is highly addictive.

But our drive for satisfaction is not to blame; we just misdirect it. Sometimes we seek satisfaction in all the wrong places.

“There are moods in which we court suffering in the hopes that here at least, we shall find reality, sharp peaks and edges of truth.”

…Ralph Waldo Emerson

Perhaps all we need is some self-understanding. It’s not difficult to understand why we choose as we do. No one is an essentially bad person. The sinner and the saint are both searching for satisfaction. They just don’t see the same choices or the same correlations between cause and effect.

If we understand ourselves more deeply, we can choose differently. We can take greater control of our lives and create true satisfaction and fulfilment.

Instant Gratification

We buy into the promise of instant satisfaction, because we feel a void within us and we want to fill it. That void is the gap between where we are and where our spirit is calling us. Instead of bridging that gap with actions that will take us there, we avoid it with one or all of the following:

  • Alcohol or drug abuse
  • Overeating
  • Sexual addiction
  • Constant busyness
  • False friendships
  • Money and work obsessions
  • New romantic relationships
  • Religious self-righteousness
  • Over-reliance on gurus and workshops
  • Inappropriate humor
  • Habitually retreating into the comfort of the known
  • Tuning out by tuning in to constant TV or Internet

We silently hope that in retreating from our challenges, we will satisfy ourselves without having to leave the security and comfort of what we are accustomed to.

True Satisfaction

Would we be so willing though, to indulge ourselves in these ways if we could see the price that we will pay for our satisfactions?

If we could view our life from a future perspective, would we be truly satisfied knowing that we have stayed in the past because we were too afraid or too lazy to move into our future? Would we consider our avoidance and indulgences worth the cost? We both know the answer to those questions.

We could excuse ourselves by saying that this isn’t a perfect world, but isn’t our perception predicated on our choices? We can choose to screw it up in any way imaginable, or we can create true satisfaction by bridging those dark voids in life with constructive thought and positive action.

True satisfaction is purchased with courage.

Over to you now!

38 thoughts on “Satisfaction For Sale

  1. Tara

    Wow. Just…wow. I typed “zen moments” into Google, looking for something else entirely, and found THIS.

    It is exactly what I needed today, even though I didn’t know it at the time. Life is funny like that sometimes, no? πŸ˜‰

    Anyway, I’m so happy to have found your website, John. I’m looking forward to exploring your past posts and reading your future ones. Thank you for caring! :0)

  2. John Rocheleau Post author

    Hi Tara,

    I’m glad you found me, and I hope that you enjoy reading the articles. And yes, life IS funny like that; serendipity can serve up just what you need when you least expect it. That’s why I put up the View a Random Article link: hold a thought and click πŸ™‚

    Best,
    John

  3. Jonathan - Advanced Life Skills

    Hi John, I think you just identified a major difference in people. You asked: β€œWould we be so willing to indulge ourselves in these ways if we could see the price that we will pay for our satisfactions?” Well, sadly some would answer yes.

    For example, all smokers realize that their habit will eventually kill them, and yet they continue to invest time and money in smoking. On the other hand, more farsighted individuals are willing to resist the temptation of counterproductive instant gratification because they look beyond the moment.

    I am all for living in the moment, but we should do so with full awareness of the consequences we are creating. As you so aptly put it, I β€œchose to bridge those voids with constructive thought and positive action.” When we live with awareness, this really is the only viable choice. Thanks for a great post.

  4. John Rocheleau Post author

    Jonathan,

    Yes, sadly many people, myself included at times, willingly pay a negative price for a temporary satisfaction. The head knows better, but the emotions are in charge at times times like that. That’s why we need these occasional reminders.

    Thanks for adding your thoughts Jonathan,

    John

  5. NicoleDoubleyou

    I come to your blog when I find myself uneasy with how my life is playing out. And I always leave it with positive thoughts, motivation, and personal goals that together help me change whatever doesn’t feel right. I’m so glad I found it, over 6 months ago I’m pretty sure, because your words have helped me make a lot of positive changes in my life that I’m sure I wouldn’t have made otherwise (or at least not as easily or as soon as necessary). Thank you for sharing your blog, your words are easy for me to find meaning in.

    I chose to comment on this particular blog entry because when I read it I realized how right you were, and how wrong I was acting. Here’s to another positive change you helped me realize I needed to make, and explained to me in a way that made me really understand how to fix it. πŸ™‚

    Thanks again,
    Nicole W.

  6. John Rocheleau Post author

    Hi Nicole,

    I’m glad you took the time to comment. Thank you for letting me know that my writing and thoughts help in some way. We are all travellers and questers, picking up this and that from here and there. I’m happy that your journey brings you here now and then πŸ™‚

    Best,
    John

  7. Ash

    I really really identified with this article, although, these statements still leave me wondering….

    – Where are the RIGHT places to seek fulfillment ?
    – What kind of constructive/creative thought and positive action?
    – How do we redirect our drive for satisfaction in this world where all of these “instant gratification” actions are constantly being thrown at us? I can’t help to think that our species is collectively evolving to this norm of satisfaction.

  8. John Rocheleau Post author

    Hi there Ash,

    This article is more about becoming aware of the problem than about detailing the solution. Though in hindsight I think you’re right. I should have gone further into the solutions. I’ve often found though, that solutions emerge as we become aware of the true nature of the problem.

    Those gaps and voids within us are different for everyone. For myself, a void like that might mean that I feel a lack of calmness; perhaps I have been drifting in my practices of meditation or Chi Gung.

    My short-sighted means to satisfy that lack might be to pour a glass of wine, or snack, or any number of other gap fillers. But if I stop to examine my motivations, I might realize that the wine is just an escape from what I don’t enjoy facing; that my discipline (and all of its rewards) is slipping. The solution then becomes obvious. I need to be more disciplined if I want true satisfaction. So instead of pouring that glass I’ll do some Chi Gung, or Tai Chi maybe. I might have to remind myself that the exquisite feeling I get from that will be far greater and truer.

    I’m hoping that by not detailing the solutions, that readers will find their own creative solutions by examining how this problem feels to them personally. That said. I sure appreciate you mentioning this. It will help me in future articles.

    Best,
    John

  9. Ralph

    I think that searching for satisfaction is an endless journey. There are many things we think will satisfy but they are really just temporary fixes to bigger issues. Thats why when I feel like I’m falling into that trap, I look at things from an eternal perspective. Thanks for this post

  10. timethief

    I’ve been allowing myself to take a blog reading and social media vacation during this holiday season. I’ve been re-examining where I want to invest my time in the upcoming year, and my internal feedback is indicating I may be best served by spending less time online in 2010.

    However, as you commented on my post I decided to visit your blog, and not surprisingly, I was immediately able to identify with the wisdom you are sharing.

    When I’m in a state of awareness and mindfulness I do not seek instant gratification. However, I’m not always in that state, so I have developed a habit of questioning myself when I feel urgency or impulsiveness are driving forces. When these feelings arise I choose to delay making a decision and take a walking meditation break or a sitting meditation break. By the time I do make it the decision about what to do it tends to be a truly satisfying and creative one, as it’s not driven by my attachments and aversions to specific outcomes.

  11. John Rocheleau Post author

    Hi Timethief,

    Thanks for the comments. This is a great time of the year to take stock of our habits and how we spend our time. I personally am realizing a need for change big-time.

    As in your case, it really helps to have some tools to work with. It is just too easy to avoid dealing with things and pacify ourselves instead. While there is no substitute for self-discipline, tools such as Meditation, almost any form of exercise, Tai Chi, Chi Gung, and Yoga, create a bridge for us to move from one satisfaction (the destructive one) to another (the creative one). Of course using these tools requires a good deal of discipline, though that is also where we can develop it.

    I wish you good personal fortune for 2010 πŸ™‚

    John

  12. Robin Easton

    Dear John,

    Hi! πŸ™‚ This is again a very well thought out post. I love all the things that you include under addictions. YES! Basically ANYTHING can be an addiction if it is running us and we are no longer in charge of ourselves.

    Which leads me to my other thought. I have found that for many years now that anything that takes me away from myself, my center, my awareness of right now, away from my sense of Robin….then I don’t want it. I don’t care how many people are doing it. I care how “normal” it is. I do not want it. I am blessed to have a clear sense of what this is in any given moment. But then, I think we all know in our hearts what theses things are for each of us….and they will probably be unique for each person…with of course, many common denominators within any culture.

    I like what Jonathan wrote about being in the moment but with awareness. I guess I just take that for granted. So it was good to see that here.

    I also like what TT said about taking a walking meditation or basically time out. YES!1 Wonderful and very useful. I try to make this a way of life.

    Wonderful post, wonderful comments and wonderful responses by you. Very very rich and wise. Thank you John. I really enjoyed it all. It leaves me just that much more aware. Hugs, Robin πŸ™‚

  13. Feeling Good

    This is a great article about something we, as humans in the 21st century have become too accustomed to, instant gratification. If we become more mindful of our thoughts we can learn to be satisfied with things that really matter. Things like our health, our family, having enough food.

    Although cognitive behavioral therapy may seem somewhat clinical it covers similar ground- learning helpful, realistic and positive ways of thinking and behaving which, of course, leads to satisfaction!

  14. Miche - Serenity Hacker

    Hi John, this post was a great read, well done! I like that your list includes things such as work obsessions and tuning out right along with more well-known instant gratification pastimes like addictions and relationships.

    I don’t think many people equate such things with instant gratification, so having that sort of stuff all on the same sheds a different light on habits that people may not realize often lull us into a the same sort satisfaction-slumber.

    Cheers, and Happy New Year, John!
    Miche πŸ™‚

  15. John Rocheleau Post author

    Hi Robin,

    Something you said in your comment begs further exploration. You said:

    “I have found that for many years now that anything that takes me away from myself, my center, my awareness of right now, away from my sense of Robin….then I don’t want it.”

    It’s important to know that when you say you do not want a thing that would take you away from your center and your sense of self, you mean that you really do not desire it. Most people could say that they do not want whatever instant gratification that is tempting them and what they really mean is that they know it isn’t in their best interests, and they wish they could say no, so in that sense they do not want it — but they will end up choosing it nonetheless.

    Because you experience such joy and satisfaction by living a centered and present life, nothing that would take you out of that experience has power over you. You also say that you are blessed in this respect. If that is so, then I am glad for you, but I feel that it is more a result of having the initial discipline in your life to build the capacity to experience being fully present and accountable like that. And that is the point I want to make — that your experience is attainable by anyone who is willing to pay the price — and that the investment will be repaid a thousand times over.

    When we summon up the discipline and strength to follow a path of personal development and exploration, we will find that the discipline that was so hard-won in the beginning, has reached critical mass. When that happens, the discipline becomes its own reward in a sense. Instead of having to dig for the determination to follow your path, the path is now golden. From that point on, being disciplined becomes a pleasure because you know what it brings, and the word, discipline, loses its negative association.

    The immense amount of wisdom and joy held within discipline, makes discipline the greatest bargain in the universe. If only everyone knew what a great deal it is. Thanks for the reminder Robin. Blessed or not, the end result is certainly a state of grace.

    Hugs back πŸ™‚
    John

  16. John Rocheleau Post author

    Hi Feeling Good,

    I absolutely agree on the value of being mindful of our thoughts, and of cognitive behavioral therapy. The two greatest catalysts in existence are awareness and action. We can learn to become more mindful or aware by learning to meditate, or using meditative methods while engaging in physical activity to practice being present. And we can explore real power by taking action based upon our mindfulness or awareness.

    We begin with awareness, and we create our life with purposeful action based upon that awareness. As individuals, we respond to our own emotions and thoughts, but the universe — and life as we experience it — responds mainly to action. So if we couple our awareness with appropriate action, we will move forward with big strides.

    John

  17. John Rocheleau Post author

    Hey Miche,

    I think your comment is right-on.

    Despite our love of drama, the small and seemingly simple things hold the most power over us. The major addictions such as alcohol and drug abuse get the press, but the small seductive steps that lead to them are the real issue.

    Cheers,
    John

  18. Robin Easton

    Aah John, You are so wise. You worded soooo very elegantly and clearly what I was trying to say. LOL!! πŸ™‚ I LOVE IT!!!!! And YES! You are absolutely right. You are amazing. Thank you dear friend for seeing through to what I was trying to say and taking the time to express it clearly. Just MAGNIFICENT!

  19. John Rocheleau Post author

    Hey Robin,

    Well I just felt I wanted to expand on your comment, to show readers that the state of mind and spirit you have developed in your life is accessible. Not easy — but attainable through disciplined choices and actions. I just can’t say enough about the great joy and satisfaction that comes from a disciplined path of seeking, learning, and action.

    πŸ™‚ John

  20. Walter

    Satisfaction is a poison. This is the greatest mistake humans want to achieve. The reality of our existence demands that we should embrace life as it is, with all its misery, confusion and complexity. Our mind demands the familiar, and so in this regard many have failed to understand our true essence, as well as to shrink in spirit. πŸ™‚

  21. Warren Davies

    John,

    I really like your list of instant gratifications, and that it included tuning out to the TV, and sticking to the known. It’s a useful way of looking at these activities, as being part of the natural search for satisfaction.

    I think people differ in how far they are able to look ahead and see the long term costs and gains of doing different things. Some people are future oriented, and quite happy to lay off current pleasures for later satisfaction; others are impulsive and seek the pleasure in the moment. The latter are probably more open to the more negative kinds of satisfaction seeking.

    Nice post and nice reminder!
    Warren

  22. John Rocheleau Post author

    Hi Warren,

    Yeah, It might be the big things that get the press, but all those small instant gratifications, like too much mindless TV, can predispose us to make unproductive choices. I think you are right about how we all differ in our ability or aptitude, for projecting ahead and seeing cause and effect. Or sometimes we just have to go through the crap until enough is enough.

    Cheers,
    John

  23. Kaushik

    John, great article.

    Awareness is the magic that helps us see this. Awareness. Allowing. Loving ourselves enough to want the Truth of being.

    Addictions are tough issue. Rational Recovery is effective, and consistent with awakening and Zen.

    Possibly, our greatest addiction is the addiction to thought and beliefs.

    Thanks, great article.

  24. John Rocheleau Post author

    Kaushik,

    You are so right about our addiction to thought and beliefs. When it comes to letting go of beliefs, or heaven forbid, to change our world view, we can be like dogs on a tug-towel.

    But as you say in your comment, and point to in your (linked) article — “awareness is the magic” — rather than struggling in the intellect to figure stuff out and develop or defend beliefs. The right quality of awareness leads to understanding, wisdom, and gifts of ability, and more dynamic awareness, and so on.

    And awareness builds as we become able to let go of opinions and judgments. If we can simply observe reality in its raw state, in each moment, there is no end to the experiential learning and empowerment that we merge with.

    πŸ™‚
    John

  25. Positive Words

    Inspiring post. I particularly liked the way you put this “..chose to bridge those voids with constructive thought and positive action”. I cannot agree more with that statement. The choice is ours. It’s not the circumstances that are to blame. It’s not our family, friends, enemies, or other people in our lives. 9 times out of 10, it’s us.. we make the choice. The choice between “instant gratification” and “constructive thought and positive action”. Choose wisely! So aptly put. Thanks a bunch!

  26. John Rocheleau Post author

    Hi Positive,

    Thanks for adding your thoughts and stressing the value of choice. In the end, that’s what it’s all about — we get to choose our life.

    It’s sad and all-too-human I guess, that we don’t realize and act on this more than we do. At times I tend to forget that I have choices. A “note to self” now and then helps tremendously. Isn’t it odd that we tend to under-use our greatest asset — our power of choice? What curious creatures we are.

    John

  27. emorroidi sintomi

    Great article. I think you are very right. But I think that getting to the point where you can satisfy yourself with creative thought and actions means a lot of work as we are so used to use other forms of satisfaction. But to acknowledge it is one first step.

  28. [email protected] Mesa Miami

    Great post man. I take the future respective. Everyday I do what I need to do to live the life Im living and want to have in the future.

  29. Dr. Angela - York, PA

    As an alternative health care provider, I find myself being far more satisfied by the happiness and wellness I help bring to my patients than by anything on your “short term” list. I have always felt that the greatest satisfaction and riches come from helping others.

  30. Jason

    Wow, I just came here for the first time and was blown away by this article. I especially like how you said this: “…realize that no one is an essentially bad person. The sinner and the saint are both searching for satisfaction. They just don’t see the same choices or the same correlation between cause and effect.” -This thought really surprised me and made me think. Thanks!

  31. Guru Jeffster

    Many people live in fear because they have never known another way to live. There’s nothing inherently wrong with satisfying desires – there’s something wrong if you don’t know why you’re doing it.

  32. Motivation & Inspiration Blogger

    Great article! Through my study of success I have realized that being able to “see into the future” is one of the gifts that the world class have mastered.

    And really, procrastination is in large part simply turning a blind eye to the future.

  33. Phil Bolton

    John –

    I love this post – so pertinent for me today. I definitely feel that I’ve been trying to fill a void in my life with procrastination rather than creativity. I think its time to give up on perfection and start afresh on Monday. Great blog – thank you.

    Phil

  34. Garrett Bender

    I think we are all addicted to something that is why it is not right to judge others. You made a great point that addiction comes in many different forms. Great article.

  35. Bryce

    “Satisfaction is our primary objective in life” Coming to this realization today has actually been a kind of crisis for me. EVERYTHING we do in life is for satisfaction – for the satisfaction of ourselves and the satisfaction we get from the satisfaction of others. I feel like I’ve lost all motivation to act at all.. all I can hope for is varying levels of satisfaction in this life. I used to think that when I moved to be productive or develop myself, I did so because I wanted to contribute what only I can contribute to humanity through my hard work, but I’ve now realized that I only want the satisfaction for myself and others that would come from those contributions – all I can hope for or to contribute is satisfaction in the outcome. Doesn’t this seem hopeless?

    It seems like all of my life I’ve tended away from absolutes; it’s been devastating to find that our motivations seem to actually be so simply summarized. Is there anything you can say to this John — Do you understand what I mean?

  36. John Rocheleau Post author

    Bryce,

    Don’t take it so much to heart that the root of our motivations are to satisfy ourselves. That does not imply that we are innately selfish in the bad sense of that word. We experience satisfaction by extending our self-awareness to others around us, because we sense that we are one. We “get” the connection between us all, and we enjoy engaging it.

    Think of it this way: We are all a part of humanity, we all have something to offer that is unique to us, we desire to share this uniqueness with others so that they can benefit as we have — and this desire to share satisfies us which in turn motivates us to continue sharing our best.

    Does that help at all πŸ™‚

    Best,
    John

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