There are some people who seem like they’re just never satisfied—with the money they make, the people they have, or the things they do.
You might wonder what’s the root of their discontent, especially when it feels like they already have more than enough.
To help you understand why they are what they are, here are 10 reasons why someone would never be satisfied with anything.
1) They’re chasing after the wrong things
One big reason why someone would never be satisfied with anything they get is because they’re chasing after the wrong thing.
It’s sadly very easy to find oneself falling into this trap, with things like the expectations of others.
Consider the woman who was told she should find her prince charming, so she jumps from date to date only to never be satisfied because she’s just not attracted to men. On the surface, it looks like she’s just too picky, but that’s because she’s obviously in the wrong lane.
This can be applied to almost anything—not being satisfied with your salary because it’s not really a career that you like, not being satisfied with your house because it’s not really the neighborhood that you want to live in.
The person who’s chasing after the wrong thing is not aware that they’re doing it so they try adding more and more to their cup hoping that it will be filled. But the problem is, they’re holding the wrong cup!
If you think this is you, take the time to ask yourself if you’re actually in the wrong lane or holding the wrong cup. Try shaking things up instead of squeezing out every drop of juice on something that still hasn’t given you the joy that you’re looking for.
2) They’re facing bigger issues others don’t see
Think of someone who doesn’t have any issues with money or getting dates. You’d say “If I were them, I’d be happy”. You might think they’re simply ungrateful or blind.
Think of that comedian who seems to be always smiling, seemingly having everything they could ever dream of, only to die one day because they were struggling with genuine depression and there was nobody who understood them.
Many people are battling bigger demons that they’re not able to enjoy what’s in front of them.
No matter how much money they make, or how many friends they have, it won’t ever be enough unless they get help for those troubles that others don’t see.
Think of a bucket with a hole. Unless the hole is fixed, the bucket won’t be filled to the brim no matter how much water you put in it.
3) They’ve become numb to happiness
Don Draper said, “But what is happiness? It’s the moment before you need more happiness.”
Let’s blame our brains for it. It just stops getting “high” and “happy” when the oxytocin has worn off.
It’s so easy to forget just how much we have, and begin taking our situation for granted. Think about how you might have thought “I want to live on my own” years ago and thought that it would mean the world to you to be free to live your life as you wanted.
Fast forward to the present and now you have an apartment of your own. Maybe even a mansion! But you don’t spend every day thinking “Geez, it’s great I have a place to call my own. I used to dream of this years ago.”
That’s just not how humans are designed.
Unless you make a habit of admiring what you have, everything becomes… very ordinary. And you’d start to want more. You might now look at how your neighbors’ apartments are bigger. Or how you need two cars or another house in the suburbs.
Some might take for granted the fact that they have a loving spouse and wonder why they can’t find love, and others might take for granted the fact that they can drink genuine champagne every day.
But the principle remains. Everything we have has a tendency to become so ordinary and boring. If you experience this often, practice gratitude every day and make it a habit.
4) They’re trapped
Think of the corporate worker who earns hundreds of dollars an hour, but can’t relax because if they did, they might cause their company to crumble into nothing. They could then get fired and lose everything that they built!
On the surface, we might think they’re just unsatisfied workaholics, but if we take a closer look, they’re actually trapped—either by their actual circumstance or their worries.
They say the best workers are those who are good at what they do but have children to feed. They’re trapped in their responsibilities so they’ll do their best even if they have to sacrifice their free time.
Next time you wonder “why can’t they just be happy”, think of the traps they’re in.
Maybe they have a toxic partner who wants to get their dream house or else they’ll feel unloved, maybe they have parents who are sick, maybe they have loans to pay!
It’s not as simple as you think. The workaholic might seem too ambitious in your eyes, but they’re not just dissatisfied simply because they like to do better, it’s because they feel they NEED to do better.
5) They’re being held back by old wounds
Think about how hard it would be to enjoy a stroll through town with a sprained knee. Sure, the sights might be pretty and the walk otherwise pleasant, but every step you take is going to hurt.
Actual physical wounds are obvious in how they hinder us day after day. What many people don’t know is that wounds of the mind are just as bad in how they keep us from enjoying our lives.
Someone might feel guilty at the thought of relaxing and spending time on themselves if they grew up being made to feel like they’ll never be good enough. So instead of relaxing, they spend their weekends working.
Likewise, an artist might have deep wounds because someone once said their painting is so mediocre, so they won’t rest until they prove them wrong.
It doesn’t matter that they’re already doing more than their fair share, or that they don’t actually have to prove their status to anyone, because those wounds will continue to ache if it’s not healed properly.
6) Advertisements keep telling them they don’t have enough
There have been studies showing that exposure to advertisements leads to greater dissatisfaction among the masses. And that shouldn’t be a surprise—that’s the very reason why advertisements exist!
It might sound scummy, but advertisements are supposed to make you feel like you’re missing something and then convince you that the product on offer is the one thing that can fill that hole.
If you think about it, how can anyone ever be satisfied when almost every time you check Instagram or watch the television, there’s always something there to remind you that your life is missing something?
Why stick with your three-year old iPhone when you can get the latest and greatest model with all the brand-spanking new features?
Why be happy with the way you look when there’s something that can be improved?
It’s for this reason that it’s a good idea to learn how to tune out advertisements when you can. At least, if you want to be satisfied with what you have.
And the next time you see someone who’s never satisfied, don’t judge them quickly as shallow or stupid, ask yourself “what has influenced them to be this way?”
7) They aren’t living for themselves
One big reason why people will never find satisfaction is because they’re focused on others.
An example of this would be the pianist who performs on stage not because they enjoy it, but because they want to win the approval of their peers or loved ones. Another would be the man who pushes himself at work simply so that he could lavish his wife with gifts.
When someone lives so that they could please other people, or when they measure their self-worth on others’ opinions of them, they’ll never find satisfaction.
You might think that the music the pianist is playing is out of this world, but they would only be concerned about how they’ve already messed up in the eyes of the ones they’re trying to please.
And that man might be seen by his friends as a dutiful husband, but what happens if he gives her a gift that she doesn’t appreciate, or just isn’t her taste? What has all his effort been for?
The sad thing is that many people think like this. They live to serve others and feel guilty when they can’t be of service, because that’s the only way they could know what their worth is.
Instead of trying to find validation from others, they should learn to give it to themselves.
8) They cling on too hard to satisfaction
Satisfaction is not something that lingers. It’s an emotion that lasts for a few long moments and then slowly begins to fade.
While this may certainly seem like a bad thing at first, it really isn’t. We are all driven by our need to pursue satisfaction, and this can actually be a good thing. If Einstein was satisfied, he wouldn’t have made his many discoveries and inventions.
But many people get the idea that satisfaction is something they ‘achieve’ and, when they get a taste of it, hang on to it as hard as they can. Society plays its part in reinforcing this idea too, with the romantic idea of a ‘happy ever after’.
For someone who first felt deep satisfaction when they bought their first Lamborghini might make that moment their happy ever after. But then the satisfaction fades, and to keep that feeling of satisfaction going they would keep buying car after car, year after year.
The irony here is that trying so hard to cling on to satisfaction is only going to make them dissatisfied.
There isn’t a happy ever after for anyone that isn’t a Disney princess. Happiness and satisfaction comes and goes with pain and suffering, and it’s only by savoring satisfaction when it comes and letting go when it leaves that one would truly ever be satisfied with life.
9) They set their expectations too high
Sometimes we daydream so much about the things we like that we just can’t help but accidentally set our expectations a bit too high.
Career success, travel, fame, admiration, love, and sex are among those things that people love to fixate on so much that they almost seem mythical. The very idea becomes something romantic. But unfortunately, things often are much more mundane than we imagine.
You might find that those popular tourist destinations you’ve been dreaming about are actually quite ordinary. And career success? It feels like nothing. You can always do more to find out if it’s actually good to be at the top.
And if something does turn out to be as good as you expected, the magic fades quickly, too.
It’s for this reason that it’s important to stop every now and then to remind ourselves to keep our expectations reasonably low. This way, when something does end up a little better than what we expected, it’s easy for us to be satisfied.
10) They’re too focused on what they don’t have
One way to keep oneself perpetually dissatisfied is to keep thinking about what they don’t have. This happens more often than you might think.
It happens when one is especially ambitious and is shooting for something far beyond their reach. Think of the amateur singer who idolizes the rockstars of their generation and is obsessed with achieving stardom.
They might be making leaps and bounds in skill, and they might be developing their own style and fanbase, but they are so obsessed with their idols that they simply can’t see how good they are already. They might even doubt their personal style and consider it their flaw.
You can try telling them that they’re good enough already, but they’ll probably get hit by impostor syndrome instead, or maybe they’ll just tell you that other people can do the same things… and better.
What you can do
Be understanding towards them
You can’t just tell people to be satisfied with what they have and expect them to suddenly snap out of it and appreciate their life. If anything, you’re only going to come off as patronizing.
Whether they’re a friend or an acquaintance, one of the best things you can do is to simply be there for them, and not let your frustrations get the better of you.
It takes a lifetime for some to learn to become satisfied. I know it might sound impossible to you, but they’re the one who’s suffering, not you. Try to be less judgmental and instead show kindness and compassion.
Give them space
While you should offer them understanding, you shouldn’t take it upon yourself to smother them in hopes that they’ll finally be satisfied. You might end up either annoying them, or making them dependent on you for validation.
You should also give them space so that they won’t drag you down if they ever get stuck in a negative spiral.
They need to process their feelings and while there are ways that you can help them—like giving them a self-help book or inviting them to a retreat about happiness—it’s something that they should do on their own.
When it comes to helping someone who’s never satisfied, the more discreet the approach, the better. Otherwise, they would only get defensive.
You can’t lecture them on how they should live their lives, but you can always influence them. If your mother isn’t satisfied with anything, be a good example by being genuinely happy and appreciative of your life.
If your partner keeps whining about how he’ll never be at the top of the career ladder, invite him to watch a movie with you that has themes of contentment and work-life balance.
It can be frustrating to be around someone who just can’t seem to be satisfied. You might give them everything they want, or envy what they have, but still they crave for more!
Most of the time, we judge them to be superficial but what we see is just the tip of the iceberg.
It’s important to keep an open mind and not judge them too harshly. After all, chances are that they’re suffering more from it than you are.
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