Life satisfaction is widely defined as a comprehensive personal assessment of a person’s quality of life according to his or her own mental criteria. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Why do we wake up in the morning? Why must we pursue education? What makes us head to work on Monday mornings? Why strive for promotions in the office? Why get married? Why do we do all that we do? We wake, pursue education, work, reach for career advancement, and create a family all in hopes of improving our satisfaction in life.

Life satisfaction is widely defined as a comprehensive personal assessment of a person’s quality of life according to his or her own mental criteria. Social scientists ascertain individuals’ life satisfaction through surveys with quantitative strongly disagree up to strongly agree numeric responses on the following statements. In most ways my life is close to my ideal. I am satisfied with my life. The conditions of my life are excellent. So far I have got the important things I want in life. If I could live my life over, I would change almost nothing.

Researchers Aysenur Buyukgoze-Kavas, Ryan Duffy, and Richard Douglass desired to discover causes of university student satisfaction with their lives in a middle-income country context. They specifically looked at work volition, life meaning, and career adaptability as possible predictors of life satisfaction. Work volition means how someone feels that they can make career choices despite constraints. In unpacking life meaning, worth is higher in people who view the role of work in their life in relation to their broader roles in their existence.


On the other hand, individuals with more career adaptability hold higher concern, which embodies someone’s ability to look to the future and prepare for their vocational potential. It also involves confidence in that someone feels efficacy, or capable, of overcoming different restraints that could hinder their career path. Further, curiosity entails how a person examines their environment and explores future options with excitement and vigour. Finally, control explains how meticulous and responsible individuals feel about molding their occupational future.

In their statistical analysis on participant responses, they found that work volition and life meaning directly impacted life satisfaction in university students. Those with higher work volition and greater life meaning also held higher opinions of their own life satisfaction. Since work volition and life meaning related so strongly to life satisfaction, the researchers looked for what in turn would increase students’ volition and meaning. Only concern and control related positively and significantly with volition and meaning. Unexpectedly, a student’s curiosity and confidence had no affect on their work volition or life meaning and, in turn, held no impact on life satisfaction. The finding goes against conventional wisdom thinking that more inquisitive and self-assured young adults are happier.

In an earlier study also of college students Ed and Marissa Diener uncovered that another cause, financial satisfaction, stood as the strongest correlation, or likely predictor, of life satisfaction when specifically looking at lower income countries.

In order for universities to mold the next generation into more satisfied adults, institutions and lecturers must foster more personal responsibility taking instead of empty self-confidence building measures. Also, tertiary entities need to intensely focus on career planning and setting personal vocational visioning exercises with students rather than examining the students’ own environments for relevant immediate or local career opportunities. Students dream that collegiate studies will take them beyond their immediate surroundings and achieve more lofty goals and they respond better when empowered to think bigger and broader.

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