Note: this is a condensed version of a longer essay.
So, the basis of all desires is to be Who-We-Are, the way we are meant to be. Being Who-We-Are is the key to living a fulfilling life.
That seems obvious, but in reality we often do acts that not only prevent us to be Who-We-Are, but take us farther away from our true selves. We always have good intentions, but some acts feel good and fun while doing it but leave you with a bad aftertaste, making you wish if you didn’t do them. Other acts don’t feel good at all, even though you’re doing something you should. You may be building a secure career and a rosy tomorrow, except that tomorrow never becomes today and you are not enjoying yourself.
We can call these two extremes “follow your bliss” crowd and “don’t follow your feelings” crowd. Which one is better?
The truth, actually, is not that simple. It’s because we have two levels of feelings:
- Level 1 feeling: temporary, immediate, felt in my mind or in my head
- Level 2 “gut” feeling: persistent, slow, felt in my stomach
Knowing this system, you can now evaluate your actions with a correct lens. The acts that feel immediately good (“Pleasure”) don’t necessarily feel good later. So following Pleasure — good Level 1 feeling — isn’t a good strategy.
On the other hand, some acts may not feel Pleasurable while you’re doing it but it feels very good afterward (“Satisfaction”). That’s why some people put themselves through uncomfortable, straining activities such as marathon or weight-lifting. The challenges may present them momentary discomfort, but it is deeply Satisfying over all.
Out of Who-We-Are, we can discern our values. And acts that are inline with our values always feel Satisfying to us. So the key to life is to always choose Satisfying acts. By paying attention to our Level 2 feelings, we can make correct judgments about whether certain choices get us closer or farther away from who we are meant to be. Don’t get distracted by quicker and louder Level 1 feelings. Dig down and feel what you’re feeling deeper.
No matter where you are in your life, by consistently choosing Satisfying acts, you can begin to live a fulfilling life. Satisfaction and happiness is always within your reach — it is among the options you have.