“Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.” -Epicurus

I can’t get no satisfaction
I can’t get no satisfaction
‘Cause I try, and I try, and I try, and I try
I can’t get no, I can’t get no
-“Satisfaction”, song by The Rolling Stones

“Desire is a contract you make with yourself to be unhappy until you get what you want.” -Naval Ravikant

The writer and social scientist Arthur Brooks provides this formula for human satisfaction…

Satisfaction = what you Have / (divided by) what you Want

Or simply…

S = Haves / Wants

The problem, especially for those of us in the West, is that we’re entirely focused on increasing the numerator, the Haves. More money. More stuff. More status. More power. More, more, more. And the more we have, the more we Want. Thus we’re never satisfied.

Instead, Brooks advises us to focus on the denominator. Decreasing our Wants. Enabling us to realize we have enough. Ultimately leading to increased satisfaction.

He tells a story about seeing a beautiful jade sculpture in the National Art Museum of China. The guide he was with discussed the major difference between the West and East’s philosophies of art….

In the West, we see art as a blank canvas that needs to be filled up.

In the East, they see the art as already existing. In this case, a big jade block. All the artist needs to do is to strip away the excess jade to reveal the beautiful sculpture that was always there, within the block.

One thought on “Satisfaction

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: