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Releasing Dissatisfaction

As the summer solstice approaches, there’s a fullness to the length of the days, in the leafiness of trees and the blossoming of flowers.

And yet this can be undermined so easily by a sense of dissatisfaction, if I let it. The promise of a reward – of ‘success’, or a treat – is never far away, but it rarely delivers a particularly stable sort of satisfaction.

I’ve always appreciated Rick Hanson’s framing of satisfaction as one of the three basic human needs (the others being safety and connection – he talks about them here).

In a world filled with bottomless invitations to consume (to ‘binge’, even), how do we find that feeling of satisfaction that supports our wellbeing?

My experience of lockdown gave me a couple of clues. One of these was that I was able to repair my relationship with traditional foods, so that every meal becomes a chance to notice how satisfaction feels in the body.

Another shift that occurred post-lockdown is that simple pleasures once again feel deeply satisfying. A coffee outside a cafe on a warm day can feel like being on holiday, without the stress of packing and travel.

Opportunities to practice satisfaction can be found right under my nose, even in ‘chores’ that we have been conditioned to see in a negative light. Cooking a nutritious meal, washing the dishes or hanging out the washing are tasks that enable me to care for myself and my loved ones. Instead of dismissing these routine activities as mindless drudgery, they can be embraced as a valued part of daily practice. Especially when I take a moment to dwell on the feeling of completeness, before moving onto whatever is next.

I’m reminded that I can give myself these moments of satisfaction, numerous times a day.

Similarly, a cup of tea or a stroll around the block can be full of listening to the birds, or feeling the wind, or watching the clouds. This state is what my 11-year-old son describes as ‘naturally mindful’, and in those moments, dissatisfaction just doesn’t get a look-in.

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