We Can Change!


We Can Change Our Programming!

25. Happiness, Satisfaction and Fulfullment

Dominant U.S. cultural conditioning, essentially programming through family, education, peers, entertainment, media and literature, trains people to believe that relative material wealth, power, status, consumption, competitive victory, and celebrity social attention and recognition that feed ego, are what primarily provides happiness, satisfaction and fulfillment.  If we win in competition with others, have more money, consume more or better stuff, or get more wide attention and visibility than others, we’re better than others and should be happy, satisfied and fulfilled.

Money is good.  Consuming is good.  More is better.  Winning is good.  Status and power are good.  Celebrity and media attention are good.  Ego feeding is good.  Success is achieving those things.  Happiness, satisfaction and fulfillment come with those achievements.

Interestingly, happiness, satisfaction and fulfillment are finally being seriously studied, and the findings do not confirm these beliefs.  Increasingly, we recognize that material success and consumption produce happiness, primarily, to the point where basic needs are met and we feel secure we can support ourselves and our loved ones.  Additional material acquisition and success do not highly correlate with increasing happiness beyond that point.[1]  If people degrade themselves as spectacles to be in reality and talk show media, that does not make them or us happier, more satisfied or fulfilled over time.

Happiness, satisfaction and fulfillment come from things like feeling secure that our basic needs and those of the people we love are met; we and those we care about are healthy, fit and thriving; we have loving, caring and supporting relationships with our families, friends and communities; we’re free from stress, fear, anxiety, anger and other negative emotions and energies; we create and contribute for the good and improvement of those and what we care about; we have free time to be present, enjoy and have fun in our lives; we experience balanced, harmonious natural environments; and we have real, personal spiritual experiences and growth.  Happiness, satisfaction and fulfillment come from qualities of life, rather than quantities of measurable stuff.

As a society, the U.S. focuses on artificial, external economic targets that are easier to measure, like growth in Gross Domestic Product, assuming that the higher those numbers are, the happier and more fulfilled and satisfied its citizens are.  Our successful relationship with science has taught us to focus objectively on things outside of us that are measurable, because that is the focus of science.  We can measure things like how much money people have and spend, GDP, and growth in those things, and we want to think we can determine what creates happiness from those things we measure, but a minority of people at the top get most of the benefits from higher GDP.  Those numbers can be considered great, while the majority of people are unsatisfied, unhappy, stressed, anxious, and unfulfilled. [2]

It’s curious that history, governments and economics have had so little interest in and expend almost no energy on what makes people happy, and whether they’re happy.  Who can say whether people today are more satisfied, happy or fulfilled than at other times in history?  We have more people and stuff now than we had as bands of apes, tribes of roaming hunter-gatherers, early pastoralists, citizens of ancient Sumeria, Egypt, Greece or Rome, Native Americans, or conquering European or U.S. imperialists.  Are we happier?  Nobody knows, because we’ve never studied it and have no data.


Bhutan has implemented a Gross Happiness Index, which tries to measure qualities of life and feelings associated with them, in balance with quantitative measures, and they attempt to manage society to achieve progress in that measured index.[3]  Studies of happiness differ in opinions and methodologies. 

Part of happiness is feeling satisfied that our expectations are being met.  If we expect dessert with supper and get it, that makes us happy.  If we don’t get it, we’re unhappy, even if the meal was great.  Part of creating and realizing happiness is managing our expectations, so we do not expect things that don’t happen.  If we expect to have more stuff than others, and they expect to have more stuff than us, somebody is going to be disappointed, because expectations will not be met.  If we desire less stuff, what we truly need, only, we’re likely to get it and be satisfied and happy.  Want less to be happy!


Yet, we live in a society that wants us to want more, always.  We are bombarded with marketing and advertisements trying to induce cravings and desires for more.  Want more, bigger, better now!  Judge ourselves critically in relation to the most beautiful models we can find, wearing the most beautiful clothes that exist, in the most beautiful homes and conditions available, with more wealth than we, staged, filmed, touched up and presented to ideal perfections, with moving music and special effects.  Of course, we judge ourselves wanting in such unfair competition.  We make ourselves artificially unhappy, unsatisfied and unfulfilled to fuel industrial machines of consumption and capitalism. 

Happiness, satisfaction and fulfillment are subjective feelings, not external or objective things that can be measured.  Subjectively, what most people care about and value, beyond the level of survival, is how we personally feel in and about our lives, not aggregated numbers describing what is happening with material stuff.  To achieve happiness, satisfaction and fulfillment we need to focus attention on what makes us feel good, subjectively, in our hearts and guts, rather than in our egos, and be guided by that. 

Want and take only the stuff we truly need, be true to what we really value, contribute abundantly what makes us and others feel good, cultivate love and other higher energies to evolve spiritually, make it all OK for all and feel secure about that, enjoy presence in nature, have loving, sharing, caring and supportive relationships with others, engage in life, don’t fear or dwell in other negative energies or emotions, dream and create, be healthy with others who are healthy in healthy environments, create and appreciate beauty, make and take time for fun, play and personal growth… 

These are the kinds of things that create happiness, satisfaction and fulfillment, at any time, in any society.  Let’s be happy, satisfied and fulfilled, being and doing things that actually create those feelings!


[1] “High income improves evaluation of life but not emotional well-being”, Daniel Kahneman and Angus Deaton, PNAS September 21, 2010, 107 (38) 16489-16493; https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1011492107,

[2] See We Can Change Our Wicked Problems! Chapter on Economy, Banking and Finance, https://www.wecanchange.us/economy-banking-and-finance

[3] GNH Happiness Index, Bhutan, http://www.gnhcentrebhutan.org/what-is-gnh/gnh-happiness-index/


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