What Makes For A Satisfied Mind?

To live well, some philosophies say, you should try to cultivate a satisfied mind. What does that mean, and how might you accomplish it?

There are many reasons why you mind might not be satisfied.

On a personal level, you might want more: more money, more status, more stuff. Ambition can be a good motivator, but it doesn’t produce satisfaction.

You might also look at the world and want more justice. You might see the flaws in our society, or empathize with plight of others that are suffering. That might lead you to attempt to seek positive change. That’s a good thing — but “satisfied” is not the word you would use to describe that.

There are also a host of issues to be worried about, from civil unrest, to artificial intelligence, to climate change, to income inequality, and on and on. Yet another reason why you might not have a satisfied mind.

So what can you do? How might you quell your fears, curb your wants and desires? To calm your thoughts, and bring about a state of being that is less anxiety ridden, and therefore more healthy? And lastly, is there a concern that cultivating a satisfied mind might dissociate you from others?

Related questions: What do you think about when your mind is not preoccupied? How do you find peace when you need it? What do you do to clear your mind? Are we too busy?

Do You Follow The Golden Rule?

The Golden Rule — treat others as you wish to be treated — is a sentiment common in cultures and religions across the world. Do you follow it?

The idea is a simple one, easily stated, and easily understood. And yet, it can be very difficult to practice.

There are many reasons why you might not follow the Golden Rule. They might vary from self-interest, fear, or even kindness.

For instance, you might well think that you want someone to come to your aid if you are in trouble. However, fear might prevent you from helping someone else in a dangerous situation.

In another situation, you might tell a small lie to spare the feelings of someone you love, even if you think you would want the truth in return.


Related: Listen to an episode of the Intellectual Roundtable Podcast, where Lee and Michael discuss this question: ‘What are our responsibilities to others?’ We also discuss another question as well, ‘Are we too busy?’


In our state and national politics, we see the Golden Rule violated frequently. One elected official, for example, may vote against offering aid to another state in a disaster, and yet accepts the helping hand when the disaster befalls them. No doubt you can think of numerous other examples.

There are endless opportunities to treat others the way you wish to be treated. In fact, just about every interaction with someone else is such a chance. It might be face-to-face, online, or from hundreds or thousands of miles away. It might include actions, speech, or even thoughts about someone else.

Can you think of notable examples where you followed the Golden Rule? Are there times when you didn’t?

Related questions: How do you serve others? What expectations do you have of others? How do other people motivate you? Why does social media often bring out the worst in us? Why do we hate?

How Do You Deal With Uncertainty?

Being in an uncertain situation can be extremely frustrating. Is there a way you have learned to deal with uncertainty?

Human beings, generally, feel more in control — and therefore, more comfortable — the more they know about something. In fact, that urge has been behind much of the development of science and technology over the last few hundred years. Wanting to know more, about how the world works and ways to modify it, is something that comes naturally to our species.

While this is true at a societal level, it is also true at an individual level as well. The more information we have, the more in control we feel.

For example, someone who has been diagnosed with a disease will often learn everything they can about it. Even very complicated systems, like the stock market or the political realm, people will study in great detail, trying to gain an edge.

In reality, knowing more does not always confer an advantage. So-called experts do not have a better record predicting the future than anyone else. There are plenty of examples of a basketball novice finishing ahead of a diehard fan in March Madness brackets, for instance.

There are certain times and certain situations that are completely out of your control. In that case, what do you do? Can you learn to embrace the uncertainty? Or instead, are there methods to feel more in control of an inherently uncontrollable scenario?

Related questions: What is unknowable? Why are we fascinated with the unknown? How do we know what we don’t know? Why don’t you know what makes you happy?

 

Are There Beliefs About Yourself You’ve Had To Let Go?

It is a simple fact that people change and grow over time. Have you ever been aware of your personal change, and jettisoned beliefs about yourself?

These changes can be something simple and straightforward. For example, later in life you might grow to like a food that you couldn’t stand before. Your belief about yourself (i.e. “I don’t like tomatoes”) might need to be amended, or even dropped.

But sometimes, the belief in question might be quite abstract, or even key to your concept of self. As you age, cornerstone beliefs, like political party, religious affiliation, or career aspirations might need to be tweaked. Some might even require a complete overhaul.


Listen to a podcast where Michael and Lee discuss a related question: ‘What beliefs do you have that might be wrong?’ We also discuss a bonus question: ‘What makes a place feel like home?’


An extreme example of this would be a belief that you felt was central to who you are, one that you swore repeatedly would never change. And yet, over time, as your experiences increase, you attitude might shift subtly at first, and eventually become completely different. Has this ever happened to you?

Introspection can be a valuable tool in your mental health tool kit. Knowing what you believe in, and periodically reviewing those beliefs, can lead to your being honest with yourself. It might also lead to a mo0re fulfilled life.

Do you have any beliefs about yourself that have changed over time?

Related questions: How have you changed? What makes you you? How can we encourage meaningful conversation? What is necessary to change your mind?