The Meaning of Life
Maximizing Your Personal Satisfaction
People will disagree on the meaning of life, and many simply are mystified by it. The goal for living that most can agree with, however, is to maximize your personal satisfaction.
Personal satisfaction is a sense of fulfillment and the quality or state of being satisfied. “Happiness” often is mistaken for satisfaction. You rarely are truly happy and then only for very short periods in most cases. Levels of personal satisfaction, however, typically are sustained over longer spans of time.
On a scale of 0 to 10 (with level 10 = completely satisfied with your life), what is your level of personal satisfaction?
An individual’s level of satisfaction is a result of a complex array of factors that vary from person to person. Those factors are considered here.
Personal satisfaction is affected by changes in environment, by individual behavior and by technology.
Technology is used to build platforms that mostly are intended to enhance, directly or indirectly, the personal satisfaction of individuals. These Platforms support the Processes people use to achieve their Purposes as illustrated in the following framework.
The relative achievement of these Purposes by an individual coupled with biological status determines his or her level of personal satisfaction.
Gallup publishes survey results for personal satisfaction in the U.S. Personal satisfaction
refers to the level of satisfaction with aspects related to personal life.
Satisfaction is collected on a scale of 0 to 10, where 0 means no satisfaction and 10 complete satisfaction. Average satisfaction levels run in the 80% to 85% range and are correlated somewhat with overall economic conditions.
In a human, information is acquired, stored in and communicated among receptors and neurons which act as very small biologic information processing, storage and networked communication devices. These facts and logic comprise the information humans use for autonomic activity and deliberate activity, for thinking and for self-awareness.
A person feels mental emotions (including “moods”) and physical sensations (pain, temperature, etc.). Feelings and physical sensations are controlled by neurotransmitters, including endogenous opioids which can be manipulated by health practices (sleep, exercise, diet), medications, and mental control (attitudes, meditation, autosuggestion, biofeedback).
General good feelings (enjoyment, joy, interest, excitement) are a result of high levels of dopamine and serotonin while general bad feelings (anxiety, rage, shame) are a result of low levels of dopamine and/or serotonin. Interest and excitement are added by higher levels of noradrenaline (aka norepinephrine).
Receptor and neuron processed information and feelings are how a person knows who they are and their situation within their environment.
A concept that describes the relationship between human neurotransmitters and human emotions has been developed by Hugo Lövheim. Each emotion is generated by varying levels of the three monoamine neurotransmitters: serotonin, dopamine and noradrenaline.
The emotion and neurotransmitter relationships are summarized in this table:
Basic emotion Serotonin Dopamine Noradrenaline
Shame/humiliation Low Low Low
Distress/anguish Low Low High
Fear/terror Low High Low
Anger/rage Low High High
Contempt/disgust High Low Low
Surprise/startle High Low High
Enjoyment/joy High High Low
Interest/excitement High High High
Neurotransmitter levels and activity must be maintained in a range of balance to avoid unpleasant and sometimes dangerous mood extremes in an individual. This balance is maintained by:
· Inherent individual physiology
· Fitness: diet, exercise, sleep, etc.
· Medications (e.g., “Haldol” rebalances dopamine in schizophrenics to improve mood)
· Attitude including actions such as deliberate positive thinking and meditation.
Another possible method for maintaining neurotransmitter balance is the intentional self-directed mental control of neurotransmitter levels and balance. For example, during waking hours an individual would think of maximizing serotonin, dopamine and noradrenaline levels to keep interest and energy high. For sleeping hours, thoughts are to maximize only serotonin and dopamine to be relaxed and with generally good mood.
The self-directed neurotransmitter control method is similar to autosuggestion, biofeedback and meditation all of which can generate emotional (and physiological) changes which themselves probably produce corresponding changes in neurotransmitter activity levels. The control technique is unique in that an individual directly tells his/her body, for example, to “increase and balance serotonin, dopamine and noradrenaline” and as a result achieves a mood of interest and excitement.
No known rigorous experimentation has been completed to validate this direct neurotransmitter control method. Individual non-rigorous ad hoc experiments with the method, however, seemingly have produced deliberate direct changes in neurotransmitter activity and resulting emotions.
Satisfaction triggers are a result of an individual’s own efforts at and effects of the Purposes outlined in the framework above. Humans have a varying spectrum of satisfaction levels triggered by these Purposes.
Human experience in general along with qualitative and quantitative research seems to demonstrate that recognition of and acting on the findings described in the following produces maximum personal satisfaction.
A 75-year Harvard study determined that mutually supportive relationships is the most essential ingredient for satisfaction and good health. Providing emotional uplift results in satisfaction both for the recipient and for the provider.
Mutual trust (can you trust me; can I trust you in every way ) provides the best community existence and maximum personal satisfaction. Each person’s self-interests are best served by freely serving the self-interests of others … as each person defines his or her own self-interests. Self-interest, therefore, is self–limiting.
Personal satisfaction increases as individual self-determination increases. For some, this may include having a spiritual aspect to their lives.
Humans are 99.9 percent identical in their genetic makeup. Artificial prejudice of all forms, however, exists in the same proportion (about 10% per Pew Research) in all groups.
Therefore, more quantity of prejudice exists in larger groups (e.g., 1 “white” bigot for every 2 “black” persons. 1 black bigot for each 50 white persons. So, blacks are exposed to 25 times more bigotry than whites.)
Personal satisfaction is difficult to maximize in the presence of actual or perceived prejudice which exists disproportionally (as just noted) for smaller versus larger groups. Since prejudice changes slowly if at all, it is a situation about which individuals in all groups should be aware.
Women and men are 99% similar but, nevertheless, have some differences. Those differences do not prevent a woman or man from doing anything that they can do and want to do.
Generally, women need primarily love and men need primarily respect. Love is freedom and support, not control. Respect is admiration and support, not fear.
Love is offering (not demanding) time, physical and verbal affection, appreciation, support, safety, kindness and admiration. Respect is admiration, appreciation, encouragement and kindness
If you in your opinion deserve love (women) … or respect (men) …. but are not receiving it, move on.
In general, a woman should pick the man she wants, not wait for men to approach her. If he’s not interested in a reasonable time, then move on.
Children need your love, your time, guidance, rules, freedom, and consequences for their actions (good and not good). And they need to be taught a “work ethic”.
Take care of your family’s physical and financial security first … secondarily, spend time on other things.
Life is not fair and no one owes you anything. You make your “luck” by being prepared for unexpected opportunities. Luck is not a given even with preparation but is more likely to occur with preparation.
Nothing has done more for the health, wealth and wisdom of humankind than free market enterprise and private charity via individual self-determination.
Enhance your health, wealth and wisdom. Maintain key health metrics (i.e., weight, blood pressure, blood sugar, etc.). Socialize with people who are improving their health, wealth and wisdom.
Have a plan with goals … then focus on the process (not the goals) to achieve your goals.
Stay calm and relaxed … unless you are physically threatened. Attempt to keep neurotransmitters including endogenous opioids in an optimum balance using primarily natural means and augmenting with pharmaceuticals only if absolutely necessary.
Insist on confirming evidence before forming your opinions. Any beliefs without evidence are merely unsupported feelings.
Use your understanding and behavior along with technology to maximize your personal satisfaction and find your own meaning in life.