Popular satisfaction with current standards of living in reform-era China is explored in this article, using survey data from the 2004 China Inequality and Distributive Justice Project. Three major patterns are found: first, people of rural origin, with low levels of education and living in the west region, who are disadvantaged in the inequality hierarchy, report greater satisfaction with current standards of living than do privileged urbanites, the highly educated and residents in the coastal east. Second, inequality-related negative life experiences and social cognitive processes including temporal and social comparisons, material aspirations, and life goal orientations mediate the effects of socioeconomic characteristics. Third, the social sources of satisfaction with current standards of living vary across urban, rural and migrant residents. It is suggested that these patterns have largely stemmed from the unique political economic institutional arrangement and stratification system in China.