Life Satisfaction - Positive psychology and leading a satisfying life

Life satisfaction: How can we achieve and measure a satisfying life?

June 12, 2019

The quest for life satisfaction commonly prompts the question, am I living a fulfilling life? Am I satisfied with my life or does something need to change in my life?

These are some of the questions we might ask ourselves at different times in our lives, or every-day in one way or another. It seems our answers to the question are crucial to determining our general wellbeing and a sense of satisfaction with the conditions of our family, work, housing and/or relationships.

What I might think is a satisfactory level of fulfillment in my life, may not be what you consider to be satisfactory in your life. The satisfying life is all so individual.

Positive psychology and life satisfaction

In the Journal of Personality Assessment, as noted in an article credited to Deiner, Emmons, Larsen and Griffin (1985), a series of five questions was utilised to measure a person’s global judgement of satisfaction with his/her life. The questions ask you to consider to what extent you are satisfied with the conditions of your life, whether your current life is close to your ideal life, whether you have achieved the things in life you consider important in life, whether you’re satisfied with your life in a general sense, and whether you would change anything in your life if you could re-wind time and live it over again.

Ed Deiner (2006), a prominent researcher in the positive psychology field suggests there are three factors that influence a person’s life satisfaction:

a) social relationships.

  • People who report high life satisfaction tend to have close and supportive family and friends, whereas those who do not have close friends and family are more likely to be dissatisfied. Are social relationships an area of your life that compassionately need your care and attention?

b) meaning and purpose at work, school or performance in important roles (such as parent, grandparent etc.).

  • When you enjoy your work, school or performance roles and feel that it is meaningful and important to you, then this contributes to life satisfaction. When work is going poorly because of work stress or difficulties establishing poor work/life balance this can lower life satisfaction. When a person has important goals, and is failing to make adequate progress toward them, this too can lead to life dissatisfaction. Could it be that the work domain compassionately needs care and attention in your life?

c) personal factors such as personal growth, health, spirituality, leisure and self-satisfaction

  • When these sources of personal worth are thwarted and frustrated, they can be powerful sources of dissatisfaction. Are there any personal factors in your life that could benefit from your compassionate care and attention?

Could values, purposeful work and time be the key?

There is no one key ingredient to “having life satisfaction”, but rather a recipe that includes a number of ingredients should be topped up on a regular basis. With the passage of time and purposeful work to align life activities and relationships with personal values, people’s life satisfaction usually increases when they are dissatisfied. Another helpful part of the process to finding greater life satisfaction is to have goals that are derived from and align with your values, and to make progress towards those goals. If you are chronically dissatisfied, it can helpful to look within yourself and ask whether you need to develop more helpful and compassionate attitudes to life, yourself and the world.

The therapy appointment

Often, people instigate therapy seeking greater satisfaction and fulfillment in their lives. The relationship between you and a psychologist can establish a safe and non-judgemental space for you to explore your well-being and level of satisfaction with the conditions of your life. If you would like to explore areas of your life that may be linked to dissatisfaction, and set some important goals aligned with your personal values then progress towards them, then contact Attuned Psychology here to make an appointment to begin that process for you.

Taryn Oak,

Clinical Psychologist


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