Do you have any solution to dissatisfaction? In the contemporary world, where external expectations and pressures are constantly bombarding us, it’s not uncommon to feel a sense of chronic dissatisfaction. This dissatisfaction often comes from the belief that we’re not successful enough, our relationships aren’t satisfying enough, or we simply don’t have the things we crave. This feeling is further amplified by pop culture, advertising, and social media constantly reminding us that we are never enough. But what if I told you there is a scientifically backed remedy to this dissatisfaction? Yes, you heard it right, and it’s called “gratitude”.
The Birth of Positive Psychology
Over the past two decades, researchers have been increasingly interested in investigating ways to counteract these negative impulses. The emerging field of positive psychology, which is essentially the study of what makes life worth living, alongside cognitive behavioral therapy aimed at changing negative feelings, have been pivotal in this exploration.
A significant question that scientists started asking was “Why are some people happier and more satisfied than others?” and “Are there ways to apply what they’re doing right to the rest of us?” Through rigorous research, they found one of the strongest predictors of happiness – Gratitude. It is the solution to dissatisfaction.
Gratitude: More Than Just an Impulse
Gratitude is a complex concept that can mean very different things to different people in different contexts. It can be a character trait, a feeling, a virtue, and even a behavior. One can feel grateful towards someone for something they did, for random events, like the weather, or even for the existence of nature itself.
The essence of gratitude is probably reciprocity. It evolved as a biological signal that motivates animals to exchange things for their mutual benefit. The idea is simple – when your brain recognizes that someone has done something nice for you, it reacts with gratitude to motivate you to repay them. Over time, gratitude became more than just an impulse to play fair.
The Power of Gratitude
Scientists found that gratitude stimulates pathways in your brain involved in feelings of reward, forming social bonds, and interpreting other’s intentions. It also makes it easier to save and retrieve positive memories, and counteracts negative feelings and traits, like envy, narcissism, and cynicism.
But how does this translate to real life?
People who practice gratitude, regardless of the reasons, tend to:
- Be happier and more satisfied.
- Have better relationships.
- Make friends more easily.
- Sleep better.
- Suffer less from depression, addiction, and burnout.
- Deal better with traumatic events.
In essence, gratitude makes it less likely that you’ll fall into the psychological traps modern life has set for you.
Making Your Brain More Grateful
The ability to experience gratitude isn’t evenly distributed. This is referred to as trait gratitude and it depends on your genetics, personality, and culture. Given this disparity, scientists wondered if they could design exercises that increase trait gratitude, leading to more happiness.
The most straightforward exercise with robust research supporting it is gratitude journaling. It entails taking a few minutes, one to three times a week, and writing down five to ten things you’re grateful for. Even simple things like a good cup of coffee or a kind gesture from someone can be a good starting point.
Surprisingly, participants in numerous studies reported more happiness and a higher general life satisfaction after practicing this for a few weeks. Some even showed changes in brain activity months after ending the practice.
Conclusions and Takeaways
By focusing on gratitude, we can hack the pathways in our brain to combat dissatisfaction. Life is complicated, and it’s okay to have bad days. Still, gratitude offers a tool that can help reframe our perspective and highlight the good in our lives.
Practicing gratitude does not mean ignoring negative aspects of life or avoiding professional help when needed. Instead, it’s about acknowledging both the good and the bad, and choosing to focus more on the good.
If you’re looking for a starting point, why not try gratitude journaling? All you need is a pen, some paper, and a few minutes of your time. Remember, being a human is hard, but with a bit of conscious effort, it doesn’t need to be as hard as we often make it out to be.
- YouTube Video – “The Solution to Dissatisfaction” by Kurzgesagt – In a Nutshell.
By focusing on the practice of gratitude, we can reshape our understanding of success and satisfaction, moving away from external comparisons and towards internal fulfilment. After all, if we can change our perception of life, we can undoubtedly change the quality of our experiences.
So, next time you’re feeling down, why not give gratitude a try? You might just find that your life is much better than you thought.