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Happiness vs. Satisfaction

Happiness has many different meanings to many different people, as does satisfaction. But for a long time I’ve been thinking: Happiness or Satisfaction – which is harder to attain? Which one should be the ultimate goal?

I think most people will instinctively say that satisfaction typically comes first, as happiness is harder to attain and is usually the end goal.  But I think there’s more than one perspective.

Let’s put this in the context of food, which I love and eat a lot of. If you eat a decent dinner at your local pizza parlor or burger joint, the meal may be satisfactory and you might be satisfied with your full belly. But if you ate an absolutely delicious meal in a 4-star restaurant like Komi (god I love that place), you’ll likely be a very happy camper.  In this case, satisfaction comes more easily and often and happiness is typically more difficult (and expensive) to attain.

Now let’s look at this in a different context. (Name drop alert) Over a year ago I read my big boss Ted Leonsis’ book, The Business of Happiness, which really puts happiness in perspective. A couple of months ago I sat down with Ted and discussed his experiences and how he attained happiness. But then I asked him – what’s the difference between happiness and satisfaction? You’re obviously happy but are you satisfied?

Does that make any sense? Let me explain. I’d say I’m in a pretty good situation in life. I have an extremely loving and supporting family; a fun and rewarding job; an awesome girlfriend; I live in a very nice condo (with my awesome girlfriend, who is also my roommate and landlord) in a great city; and I have a bunch of amazing friends. BUT I want more success in my career, I want to eventually get married and start a family, I want many houses in many cities (a little materialistic, but obviously everyone needs a mountain cabin for the winter and a lakehouse for the summer), and I want to continually grow my network of friends and contacts.

So am I happy? Absolutely. Am I satisfied? Not even close.

What about you? Are you happy, satisfied, or both?

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  1. Rich Drinker
    March 14, 2012 at 9:59 pm | #1

    If one is happy but not satisfied, is part of that happiness due to one’s recognition of opportunity?

    And if opportunity begets happiness, then what happens after you publish your book?

  1. November 5, 2012 at 10:09 am | #1
  2. May 23, 2013 at 10:35 am | #2

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