A high level of satisfaction in life has been linked to a lower risk of developing diseases and suffer from mental disorders, as well as with a higher index of happiness. Obviously, it is a very subjective concept since “satisfaction” depends largely on the needs and expectations of each of us. In fact, are no longer happier those who have more, but those who need less.
What it means to be satisfied with life?
Be satisfied with life depends on the coherence between the present and the ideal situation. In practice, we are satisfied when our reality is as close as possible to our ideal.
But feeling satisfied with life does not mean, necessarily, to have everything we want, but be aware that we are at a good point, grateful and satisfied with what we have and are.
In fact, many psychological studies have concluded that having more money, be more intelligent or attractive represent only 10% of the wealth and satisfaction that people experience. This is because happiness and satisfaction do not depend on possessions and successes, but by how we assume them in our life project.
At what stage of their lives do people feel more unhappy?
A study conducted by scientists at University College London, which involved people from 160 countries, has revealed what is the point in our lives where we feel less satisfied. In Western countries that moment occurs between 45 and 54 years old.
Researchers think that this is due to the fact that at this stage we are experiencing a high level of stress and we are full of concerns, both in the workplace and in the family. In fact, these are the years in which we should earn more, even at the expense of health, since we are aware that very soon our level of productivity will decline, which is a concern for most.
In addition, being somewhere in the middle of life makes us look back and make a balance of what we have achieved and what remains to be done. During this phase, many tend to make a balance of their lives and if the results do not meet them, they become depressed.
The good news is that later, getting closer to retirement, the level of satisfaction in life increases, thanks to the fact that we change our perspective, our goals and expectations. In this way we can live more relaxed and with less stress for the future.
Nevertheless, it must be said that this model has not been seen in all cultures. In fact, in Eastern European countries and in Latin America, the satisfaction with life decreases as the years pass. Moreover, in African countries, the satisfaction in life seems to remain fairly stable over time, with no major changes.
But the interesting finding from this study is that the researchers have made a step further by asking on what depended the satisfaction in life. They found that the key to live longer and be more satisfied was simply to make sense of life, have a reason strong enough and motivating to go on living.
Steptoe, A. et. Al. (2014) Subjective wellbeing, health, and ageing. The Lancet; 385(9968): 640-648.