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What if I told you that just one thing can help you in all of those areas? After repeated exposure to the same emotion-producing stimulus, we tend to experience less of the emotion. In five words – gratitude triggers positive feedback loops. Hedonic adaptation gives unparalleled resiliency and keeps us motivated to achieve ever greater things.
It also kills our marriages – we get use to our amazing spouse (or kids, or job, or house, or car, or game).
If we perceive our current life to have more good, we will also believe our future life to have more good.
Optimism is correlated with gratitude because those with an optimistic disposition are biologically more likely to focus on the good (gratitude) than on the bad (personal disappointment, anxiety, etc…). The problem with materialism is that it makes people feel less competent, reduces feelings of relatedness and gratitude, reduces their ability to appreciate and enjoy the good in life, generates negative emotions, and makes them more self-centered.
For example, spiritual individuals are more likely to feel a strong spiritual or emotional connection with others, and to believe in inter-connectedness.
Both are prerequisites for feeling gratitude – someone who feels weak connections with others, and who believes in the illusion of self-sufficiency is unlikely to feel gratitude. I’m a lot better now that I’ve brought gratitude into my life, but I still spend way too much time thinking about myself, and too little thinking about others.
That can work, but it can also make us narcissistic or even back-fire and lower self-esteem. Despite your asking and pleading, no one helps you.