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But how much effort do you think is involved in doubling your income? Motivational speakers will tell you that the money is worth the sacrifices. Applying that same level of energy towards strengthening one’s relationships, cultivating compassion and gratitude, and so on much more reliably creates positive, transformative change.
Said differently, material success is not a very important factor in the happiness of highly grateful people.
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.
Now imagine a world where many people help you all of the time for no other reason than that they like you.
When I first started looking into gratitude, I wasn’t expecting much. Sure, having more money can be pretty awesome, but because of hedonic adaptation we quickly get used to it and stop having as much fun and happiness as we did at first. This is why a five-minute a week gratitude journal can make us so much happier.
A five-minute a day gratitude journal can increase your long-term well-being by more than 10 percent. Gratitude improves our health, relationships, emotions, personality, and career.
Put more simply, we get use to the good things that happen to us.
I expect this to change – because of my compassion and gratitude practices I am starting to have spontaneous urges to help others.
This is because the very nature of gratitude is to focus on others (on acts of benevolence).
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.
If it’s thinking about a few things we have to be grateful for today, it will induce the relaxation response, knock us out, and keep us that way. In another study of 400 healthy people, those participants who had higher scores on a gratitude test also had significantly better sleep.