Spirituality & Health Magazine

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Wed, July 16 2014

Grateful People Are Happier People

By:
Traci Pedersen

"A simple grateful thought turned heavenwards is the most perfect prayer."—Doris Lessing

Think of anything—big or small—that exists in your life, whether it is a relationship, a job, a particular flower, or your morning coffee. Now, if this thing were to disappear tomorrow and be gone forever, would you miss it? If you would, it is something to be grateful for today—because it is here in your life right now.

How would our lives change if, everyday, we focused on our abundance rather than on what was lacking? According to new research, we would be happier people. On the contrary, materialists—people who are focused on obtaining material goods—tend to feel more depressed and unsatisfied.

Why is this? According to the Baylor University researchers, a material outlook tends to focus on lack—what one does not have. This, in turn, takes the focus away from what we already have.

Also, humans continuously adapt to new situations. This may explain why “more stuff” doesn’t make us any happier, said study co-author James Roberts, Ph.D. As we collect more and more possessions, we never feel completely fulfilled, because our brains keep adapting and resetting the bar.

So even though materialists are more likely to achieve material goals, previous research has found that they are generally less satisfied with their lives. They are more likely to have poorer self-esteem, feel less satisfied in their relationships, participate less in community events, and feel less happy overall. On the other hand, those who are grateful tend to find deeper meaning in life, prior research has found.

The current study, entitled “Why are materialists less happy? The role of gratitude and need satisfaction in the relationship between materialism and life satisfaction,” is published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences.

Begin your shift today toward an attitude of gratefulness. Focus on being thankful for what you already have rather than worrying about what you are lacking. Try writing down ten things for which you are truly grateful every day. What if these things were taken from you tomorrow? How would your life change?

When you find yourself dwelling too long on what you lack, practice switching the thought to one of abundance until it becomes habit. A positive, grateful mindset takes practice, but it ends in a truly happier perspective.

Traci Pedersen's picture

Traci Pedersen is a professional freelance writer who specializes in psychology, science, health, and spiritual themes.  Some of her most recent work includes covering the latest research news in science and psychology, writing science chapter books for elementary students, and developing teacher resource books.  When she is not researching and writing, she is spending time with her family, reading anything and everything, and going to the beach as often as possible.

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