A high level of life satisfaction has been linked to a lower risk of developing illnesses and suffering from mental disorders, as well as a higher happiness index. Obviously, it is a very subjective concept since "satisfaction" largely depends on the needs and expectations of each of us. In reality, those who have more are no longer happy, but those who need less are happier.
What does it mean to be satisfied with life?
Being satisfied with life depends on the consistency between our present and an ideal situation. In practice, we feel satisfied when our reality comes as close as possible to our ideal.
However, feeling satisfied with life does not necessarily mean having everything we want, but being aware that we are well advanced, grateful and satisfied with what we have and are.
In fact, many psychological studies have concluded that having more money, being smarter or more attractive accounts for only 10% of the well-being and satisfaction people experience. This is because happiness and satisfaction do not depend on properties and successes, but on how we take them on in our life project.
At what stage of their life do people feel most dissatisfied?
A study carried out by scientists at University College London, involving people from 160 countries, revealed when we feel least satisfied in our life. In Western countries that moment occurs between the ages of 45 and 54.
Researchers think this is due to the fact that at this stage we experience a high level of stress and are full of worries, both in the workplace and in the family. In fact, these are the years in which we should earn more, even at the expense of health, since we are aware that very soon our level of productivity will decrease, and this represents an additional concern.
Added to this is that being practically halfway through life makes us look back and take stock of what we have achieved and what remains to be done. During this phase, many tend to take stock of their life and if the results do not satisfy them, they fall into depression.
The good news is that as we get closer to retirement, the level of life satisfaction increases as we change our outlook, goals and expectations. In this way we are able to live more relaxed and with less stress for the future.
Nonetheless, it must be said that this model has not been seen in all cultures. Indeed, in the countries of Eastern Europe and Latin America, life satisfaction decreases over the years. Furthermore, in African countries, life satisfaction appears to remain fairly stable over time, without major changes.
But the interesting thing about this study is that the researchers went a step further by asking what life satisfaction depended on. They found that the key to living longer and being more satisfied was simply to make sense of life, to have a reasonably strong and motivating enough to keep living.