Monica Rozenfeld moves to Brooklyn with two roommates — a Catholic and an observant Jew — and they each seek understanding of what it means to be religious.
Click this banner to see the entire section.
The art of satisfaction
So just a few days ago I posted on how I’ve been feeling a bit, well, unsatisfied. These moments of dissatisfaction just peek up out of nowhere, usually when I see someone with more than me, and I cringe at the thought that this is the type of person I am. More embarrassing to admit is that I just wrote a story on a women’s homeless shelter, and am working on another story on crime and abuse, and yet don’t feel any more grateful in my life than I feel unsatisfied by seeing the other side.
This is completely unhealthy. I know this for a fact.
A few weeks earlier I picked up a book called The Art of Possibility from my (ex) boyfriend’s, and decided maybe today would be a good day to read it. I know that I should be making some sort of “what I’m grateful for” list but that seems to be such a time suck. Maybe even a little bit too sentimental for my personality. So I have avoided that at all costs. I also know that these feelings are all a part of my being too hard on myself. And so when I skimmed the pages of this borrowed book and turned to the chapter titled “Being a Contribution,” I decided to read on. After all, being a contribution and not just a recipient is a very religious, and Jewish concept. Instead of focusing on success and failures, this book says, think about your contributions. What have you contributed today, this week, this year?
This concept, which is kind of difficult to digest because it seems that is the way we should inherently look at ourselves and the world, no?, is just so smart. What you have contributed doesn’t measure short-comings, it measures your raison d’etre, your reason for being. I know that if I could tune myself that way, I would make for a very satisfied person. I know if I spent my time volunteering or calling friends to see how their days were rather than thinking about how I don’t do enough or have enough, that too would make me a more satisfied person.
It reminds me of the line in Eat, Pray, Love, with the Italian man who said something along the lines that Americans have to be reminded to enjoy pleasures in life; we have to feel we’ve earned satisfaction. Don’t we? Shouldn’t we only be satisfied after we’ve earned money or success? This mentality of earning satisfaction is the reason we never actually reach it. Like the Italians (whom I love oh so dearly), satisfaction comes in a bottle of red wine and sharing it with others. It’s that simple.
The latest Psychology Today issue talks about how bilingual people think differently. I.e. the Russian speaker featured said Russian’s think it’s a ridiculous concept to be happy all the time. There is no Russian translation of happiness like we have in English. People are supposed to be many things, many emotions, feel much, and not just happy.
What I’m attempting to say is there is always another way to look at things. What if were to measure ourselves based on ourselves? Contribute the way we know how? I’m going to make an attempt and try and find out. While I’m at it, and up at 1 am, I might take a shot at my grateful list too…