Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Stimulation vs. Satisfaction

Stimulation and Enjoyment
            I seek out stimulation and enjoyment every day. The best days are when I get that enjoyment from my work or from interactions with people. However, when I’m struggling at work, or am not ‘feeling it’ with people, I have ways of seeking out supplementary pleasure.
            Some of these are activities that help me feel pleased with myself—exercising, doing household chores, or pursuing my various hobbies, including writing blog posts, writing poetry, or making hula hoops. I enjoy the competence and self-expression in these activities, and the fact that they result in a product that I am able to continue enjoying even after the activity itself is over.
            The easiest manner of enjoyment is in consuming something, sometimes food, but usually entertainment. I follow a number of podcasts and TV shows, many of which keep me amused, all of which keep me engaged. But they do not satisfy—after I’m done consuming, there’s little to no “afterglow” of happy mood.

Satisfaction and Joy
            I’m thinking about this topic because I am seeking greater satisfaction and joy in my life, and so far I feel like I have a much better understanding of attaining stimulation and enjoyment. Here’s my current understanding of satisfaction and joy.
            Satisfaction is enjoyment that extends beyond direct contact with stimulation. If I enjoy eating, but experience hunger/blandness as soon as I stop, then there is no satisfaction, and I will just need to eat again. When I’m satisfied, a need is fulfilled for enough time to give me relief from the anxiety of seeking its fulfillment. In satisfaction, the desperate itch for stimulation ceases.
            I think people use the term “joy” in different ways, but I’m thinking of joy (could be interchanged with “happiness”) is a stable state of satisfaction in one’s place in life. I feel joy when I feel like I fit in the world. When I experience that fitness, I have less anxiety about trying to fit.

            I think the key term in this “stimulation vs. satisfaction” dichotomy is meaning. The experience of meaning can involve situatedness, depth, purpose, and connection. Activities that are meaningful make me feel like I “make sense” in the world. When I do my work well, I am pursuing my purpose. When I connect with people, I belong somewhere. When I tend to my chores or my arts, I am getting in touch with deep needs for self-care and self-expression. Joy and satisfaction last longer because they are “resonant” experiences. Whatever is meaningful resonates.

*This seems like a solid start to a longer analysis, but I’m not sure what. I’ll leave it here for now, and I invite your reflections and reactions.


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