The secret to happiness is gratefulness and appreciation, scientists conclude

The secret to happiness is gratefulness and appreciation, scientists conclude


Hypnosis is at work all around us, shining bright through the liquid crystal display (LCD) screen of the television set. Companies spend extraordinary amounts of money to make you think you need their product and they use any form of mass media, from the pixels on the TV to the ink in the magazine to the sound waves of the radio, to make you feel lacking. You are being trained to feel empty and void at every turn. Your mind can easily be pulled in subconsciously by their marketing schemes and their hypnosis games.

Preying on our fears, capitalizing on our emptiness, this modern marketing machine fills us with greed, envy and discontent. We are literally being taught to compete for more materialism. And it doesn’t matter if you don’t have the money right now; financing options are always available. In the moment, debt doesn’t matter as the beautiful angel on a white horse carries us to our materialistic dreams. Just when we thought we had a hold on the things we wanted, the desire for more resurfaces again, because we are not truly fulfilled inside. Finally the angel pulls off her mask and reveals she has come to enslave us to a lifestyle of unhappy consumption.

It’s so important to break the chains of the materialistic lifestyle advertised to us at every corner. Assessing what is truly valuable in our lives, understanding where happiness comes from: this is what we have lost. Our thanksgiving has been replaced by the feel good moment of impulsive spending, by the short-lived sensation of buying something new.

Scientists at Baylor University explored the relationship between materialism and life satisfaction and found some interesting results. As previous studies show, the focus of acquiring material possessions is no road to happiness at all, despite pop culture’s constant glamorization of lavish lifestyles, new cars, mansion living and all the expensive accessories.

The research set out to determine what actually makes people happy, regardless of what they have or how much they own. It turns out that even people without many nice things can be satisfied with their life as long as they have one key trait — gratitude.

Just stopping on the Thanksgiving holiday to say thanks is not enough. Gratefulness can become part of our daily lifestyle. Simply stopping before each meal to thank God for what has been provided is a great exercise. Appreciating the good traits of the friends and family around us gifts us with new eyes to see.

The researchers sent out a questionnaire to 246 university students to analyze what makes them happy with their life. The researchers confirmed, “People who pursue happiness through material gain tend to feel worse, and this is related to negative appraisals of their satisfaction with life.”

In a more in-depth analysis, they wrote, “Given the negative relationship that materialism has with positive affect, it stands to reason that positive affect and related constructs such as gratitude might be important moderators in the association between materialism and life satisfaction. In contrast to materialism, gratitude is a positive emotion that is experienced when someone perceives that another person has intentionally given him or her a valued benefit.”

More importantly they found that gratitude acts as a buffer for the negative effects of materialism. It doesn’t matter what a person has or how much they have. The simple choice of being honestly thankful gives the person a feeling of authentic satisfaction with their life.

Appreciation is even effective for those who are engaging in materialistic pursuits. The authors conclude, “Specifically, individuals who are able to appreciate what they have even while engaging in materialistic pursuits might be able to maintain high levels of life satisfaction.”

By exerting feeling of gratitude, individuals distance themselves from materialism and the desire for more. Gratefulness is a pro-social characteristic that focuses on others. Materialism is self-loathing behavior that beckons depression.

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