We all are familiar with the feeling that things are not as they should be in terms of success, relationships, material possessions. This feeling can make you look outwards with envy and inwards with disappointment.
Pop culture, social media and advertisements are not helping either, because they work as a constant reminder that aiming for less than "perfect" equals failure.
In the last two decades, researchers have started to work on ways to counteract our chronic dissatisfaction. This is how positive psychology was born - the study of what makes life worth living, while cognitive behavioral therapy was developed to change negative feelings.
Scientists also began to investigate why some people are happier and more satisfied than others and how to apply what they are doing right to the rest of the world.
One of the most relevant predictors of how happy people are, how easily they make friends, and how good they are at dealing with hardship is gratitude.
Gratitude can mean different things to different people, depending on the context: it's a character trait, a virtue, a feeling, and a behavior.
The ability to experience more or less gratitude is not equally distributed.
We have what's known as trait gratitude, which determines how much we can feel it. It depends on genetics, personality, and culture.
The easiest gratitude exercise with the most solid research behind it is gratitude journaling. It involves sitting down for a few minutes, 1-3 times a week, and writing down 5 to 10things you are grateful for.
Participants in studies on gratitude journaling reported more happiness and higher general life satisfaction after doing this practice for a few weeks. Practicing gratitude may be a real way to reprogram yourself.
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