Most companies do inventory at the end of the year. I, like many people, do my own inventory, which I call “counting my grieve-issings.” I’ll explain. I usually begin by being thankful for the blessings in my life, like, “Thank you for my car,” to which a voice in my head will add, “even though it’s got a rusty scratch on the side.” And then the snowball turns into an avalanche:
Me: Thank you for my health.
Voice: Well, most of it; still got some stuff that needs fixing, weight to lose. God, I am not liking this haircut I just got. I miss my long hair.
Me: Thank you for my friends and family.
Voice: Who are either getting on my nerves or not calling. Why am I always the one who has to call?
Me: Thank for my cat and her health.
Voice: And for all the scars she’s left me.
Me: Thank you for my…bank account?
Voice: LOL. Which one? The one with $120?
Me: Ok, thank you then for every dollar in my account.
Me: Thank you for…
Voice: Don’t say relationship…
Me: My loving…
But – there’s a silver lining here. If you’ve been spending the last few weeks of the year thinking about everything you hated about it, I applaud you. Why? Understanding what you dislike is a first step to figuring out what you do want – and how to achieve it. Rather than simply stewing in dissatisfaction, I’m encouraging people (and yours truly) to use it to propel them into action and change in the New Year.
So let’s start off with the bad. Analyzing data from 1,123 people who took our Life Satisfaction Test on Queendom.com, we discovered that the majority of people in our sample are dissatisfied with at least some aspects of their life. In fact, with an average satisfaction score of 58 (on a scale from 0 to 100), there is clearly room – and a desire – to improve. Here’s how it the results of our study break down:
What women are most satisfied with:
- Relationships with friends (score of 68)
- Relationships with family (score of 66)
- Psychological health (score of 66)
What women are least satisfied with:
- Finances (score of 43)
- Romantic life (score of 48)
- Body (score of 52)
What men are most satisfied with:
- Relationships with family (score of 65)
- Relationships with friends (score of 63)
- Psychological health (score of 63)
What men are least satisfied with:
- Romantic life (score of 43)
- Finances (score of 47)
- Chosen job field (score of 56)
Our study also reveals that:
- Life satisfaction in general increased with age, particularly satisfaction with one’s body (Oh, thank God). Older age groups are also more resilient, have a more positive outlook, and are less likely to dwell on issues that bother them.
- Life satisfaction increases as socio-economic status increases.
- Married people are more satisfied with their life compared to single people, with the latter being more pessimistic and more likely to dwell on problems.
- People who engage in religious or spiritual practices are slightly more satisfied than people who don’t.
- People with children are more satisfied with their life than people who don’t, although their sense of fun and pleasure was slightly lower.
Now, while there is a clear sense of dissatisfaction, the average score on Sense of Purpose/Meaning was at 73. This means that while most people are unhappy with certain aspects of their life, they still feel that their life is important – that it’s worth living. This is why dissatisfaction is not necessarily a bad thing. If anything, it pushes you to change and improve – perhaps even gives some people a reason to live. And with an average score of 56 on Sense of Accomplishment, there is much we are still aiming for and desire to achieve. We’re human “beings” – we have an inherent desire to do and be something.
So here are some tips I’d like to offer to create an amazing year in 2014:
- Let it out. A study on negative life events revealed that people who wrote out what was bothering them or who talked things out with someone showed an improvement in mental health and life satisfaction. So when something is bothering you, don’t keep it locked up inside. A problem can often feel less intense when we can share that burden, so to speak. Release all your negative feelings and thoughts in a journal. Talk to a trusted friend, a spiritual leader, a therapist, or join an online community that focuses on helping others get through personal and emotional difficulties. There is always help out there.
- Develop an attitude of gratitude. It seems to be human nature to focus on the negative – just turn on the TV to the latest news reports. Rather than focusing on everything that is going wrong in your life however, why not focus on what’s going right? On the one hand, you may not have a great deal of money in your bank account, or your ideal partner or body. So what do you have? Two eyes to read this. A heart that beats. A sunset. Friends. A car. A home. Really dig deep and find all the things that you have to be appreciative of, no matter how minor they may seem.
- Keep the positive moments in your mind. While it can be difficult to think positively when you feel like your world is crumbling, strive to direct your attention, even if it’s only for a few moments, to a positive memory. It could be a relaxing vacation you had, a playful day with your pet, a romantic evening – whatever moment makes you smile. By focusing more on positive memories and emotions, you can pivot away from the negative. And with a more optimistic attitude, you may be able to look at an issue that’s bothering you in a different light.
- Find your “raison-d’être.” Whether it’s a hobby, raising your children, training/fostering animals until they’re adoptable, creating art or music, or volunteering, find something that adds meaning to your life. This sense of passion will make you feel renewed, and help you realize how special and important you really are. Not to mention the fact that you will be making a positive impact on someone’s life.
- Read inspirational books. There’s nothing more inspiring than reading about people just like you – people who went through the same hardships and still managed to come out on top. It gives you hope and a reason to keep trying. Examples of some good inspirational books include Viktor Frankl’s “Man’s Search For Meaning”, Stephen Covey’s “7 Habits of Highly Effective People”, Louise Hay’s “You Can Heal Your Life”, Herman Hesse’s “Siddhartha”, Barbara Delinksky’s “Uplift: Secrets from the Sisterhood of Breast Cancer Survivors”, and Nelson Mandela’s “Long walk to Freedom”, to name just a few.
- Set goals. Even if it’s just “to clean out the garage and have a garage sale,” a goal sets your focus on something to achieve. It gives your life a sense of purpose. Nothing can be more draining than being in an unproductive rut. Set some solid goals that are challenging but achievable, and chances are that you’ll feel motivated to keep going. In the least, it will keep your mind off of what isn’t going well in your life.
- Remember, your moment of power is now. The past is done. The future is yet to be determined. Keeping your mind and energy locked on regrets from the past or on fear of what may come leaves you feeling powerless. All that matters is the now. This is where all your power is. You have control over THIS moment right now. You have the power to decide whether you will spend it worrying and fretting or spend it actually living.
Queen (*jingle jingle*) D