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  • Everybody is familiar with the feeling that things are not as they should be.

  • That you're not successful enough.

  • Your relationships not satisfying enough.

  • That you don't have the things you crave.

  • A chronic dissatisfaction that makes you look outwards with envy

  • and inwards with disappointment.

  • Pop culture, advertising and social media made this worse

  • by reminding you that aiming for anything less than your dream job is failure,

  • you need to have great experiences constantly,

  • be conventionally attractive, have a lot of friends,

  • and find your soulmate, and that others have all of these things,

  • and are truly happy.

  • And of course, a vast array of self-improvement products

  • implies that it's all your fault for not working hard enough on yourself.

  • In the last two decades, researchers have been starting to

  • investigate how we can counteract these impulses.

  • The field of positive psychology emerged.

  • The study of what makes life worth living.

  • While cognitive behaviorial therapy was developed to change negative feelings.

  • Scientists began to ask why are some people happier and more satisfied than others,

  • and are there ways to apply what they're doing right, to the rest of us.

  • In this video, we want to talk about one of the strongest predictors of

  • how happy people are,

  • how easily they make friends,

  • and how good they are at dealing with hardship.

  • An antidote to dissatisfaction so to speak.

  • Gratitude.

  • While gratitude may sound like another self-improvement trend

  • preached by people who use #hashtags,

  • what we currently know about it is based on a body of scientific work and studies.

  • We'll include them in the description.

  • Gratitude can mean very different things to different people in different contexts.

  • It's a character trait, a feeling, a virtue

  • and a behaviour.

  • You can feel grateful towards someone who did something for you,

  • for random events like the weather, or even for nature.

  • Or fate.

  • And it's wired into our biology.

  • How gratitude connects us to each other.

  • The predecessor of gratitude

  • is probably reciprocity.

  • It likely evolved as a biological signal

  • that motivates animals to exchange things for their mutual benefit

  • and can be found in the animal kingdom among certain fish,

  • birds, or mammals,

  • but especially in primates.

  • When your brain recognises that someone's done something nice for you

  • it reacts with gratitude to motivate you to repay them.

  • This gratitude makes you care about others,

  • and others care about you.

  • This was important because as human brains got better at reading emotions,

  • selfish individuals were identified and shunned.

  • It became an evolutionary advantage to play well with others,

  • and build lasting relationships.

  • For example, if you were hungry and someone else showed you

  • where to find tasty berries,

  • you felt gratitude towards them and a bond to return the favour in the future.

  • A drive to be pro-social.

  • When you repaid them, they felt gratitude towards you.

  • This brought your ancestors close together,

  • and forged bonds and friendships.

  • So early forms of gratitude were biological mechanisms

  • that modified your behaviour towards cooperation

  • which helped humans to dominate Earth.

  • But over time, gratitude became more than just

  • an impulse to play fair.

  • The consequences of gratitude.

  • Scientists found that gratitude stimulates the pathways

  • in your brain involved in feelings of reward,

  • forming social bonds,

  • and interpreting others' intentions.

  • It also makes it easier to save and retrieve positive memories.

  • Even more,

  • gratitude directly counteracts negative feelings

  • in traits like envy and social comparison,

  • narcissism, cynicism and materialism.

  • As a consequence, people who are grateful no matter what for

  • tend to be happier and more satisfied.

  • They have better relationships,

  • an easier time making friends.

  • They sleep better,

  • tend to suffer less from depression,

  • addiction, and burnout

  • and are better at dealing with traumatic events.

  • In a way, gratitude makes it less likely that you'll fall

  • into one of the psychological traps modern life has set for you.

  • For example, gratitude measurably counters the tendency to

  • forget, and downplay positive events.

  • If you work long and hard for something,

  • actually getting it can feel daft and empty.

  • You can find yourself emotionally back where you started

  • and try to achieve the next biggest thing

  • looking for that satisfaction instead of being satisfied with yourself.

  • Or imagine being lonely and wanting to have more friends.

  • You actually might have someone or even multiple people

  • who want to hang out.

  • But you might feel that this is not enough,

  • that you're a loser, and you feel bad about yourself.

  • so you might turn down their attempts to hang out

  • and become more lonely.

  • If you feel grateful for your relationships instead,

  • you might accept invitations, or even take the initiative.

  • The more often you risk opening up,

  • the higher the chance of solidifying relationships

  • and meeting new people.

  • In the best case,

  • gratitude can trigger a feedback loop.

  • Positive feelings lead to more pro-social behaviour,

  • which leads to more positive social experiences,

  • that cause more positive feelings.

  • This is a common experience after serious hardship

  • like chemotherapy for example.

  • Life can feel amazing after a crisis is over.

  • The smallest things can be bottomless sources of joy.

  • from being able to taste, to just sitting in the sun

  • or chatting with a friend.

  • Objectively, your life is the same or

  • may be even slightly worse than before,

  • but your brain compares your present experiences

  • with the times when life was bad,

  • and reacts with gratitude.

  • So, in a nutshell

  • gratitude refocuses your attention towards

  • the good things you have.

  • And the consequences of this shift,

  • are better feelings,

  • and more positive experiences.

  • While it is great to know these things,

  • is there actually a way for you to feel more of it?

  • How to make your brain more grateful.

  • The ability to experience more or less gratitude

  • is not equally distributed.

  • you have what's known as 'trait gratitude'.

  • That determines how much you are able to feel it.

  • It depends on your genetics,

  • personality and culture.

  • This discovery made scientists wonder if they could

  • design exercises that change your trait gratitude,

  • and lead to more happiness.

  • Let's start with important caveats.

  • It's not yet entirely clear to what degree gratitude can be trained,

  • or how long the effects last.

  • There are no magic pills for happiness.

  • Life is complicated.

  • On some days it feels like you're in control of yourself,

  • and on others, you feel like you're not.

  • and this is okay.

  • Also, sometimes pursuing happiness can make you more unhappy

  • if you put too much pressure on yourself.

  • Gratitude should also not be seen as a solution to

  • depression, or a substitute for professional help.

  • It can only be a piece of the puzzle.

  • It's not the solution to the puzzle itself.

  • The easiest gratitude exercise with the most solid research behind it

  • Is gratitude journaling.

  • It means, sitting down for a few minutes,

  • one to three times a week, and writing down

  • five to ten things you're grateful for.

  • It might feel weird at first.

  • So start simply.

  • Can you feel grateful for a little thing?

  • Like how great coffee is,

  • or that someone was kind to you?

  • Can you appreciate something someone else did feel?

  • Can you reflect on which things or people

  • you would miss if they were gone,

  • and be grateful that they're in your life?

  • We're all different,

  • so you'll know what works for you.

  • And that's it really.

  • It feels almost insulting.

  • Like, things shouldn't be that simple.

  • But in numerous studies,

  • the participants reported more happiness

  • and a higher general life satisfaction

  • after doing this practice for a few weeks.

  • And even more,

  • studies have found changes in brain activity

  • some months after they ended.

  • Practicing gratitude may be a real way to

  • reprogram yourself.

  • This research shows that your emotions

  • are not fixed.

  • In the end, how you experience life

  • is a representation of what you believe about it.

  • If you attack your core beliefs about

  • yourself and your life,

  • You can change your thoughts and feelings

  • which automatically changes your behaviour.

  • It's pretty mindblowing that something as simple as

  • self reflection can hack the pathways in our brain

  • to fight dissatisfaction.

  • And, if this is no reason to be more optimistic,

  • what is?

  • Being a human is hard.

  • but it doesn't need to be as hard.

  • And if you actively look,

  • you might find that your life is much better

  • than you thought.

  • *Woof!*

  • *Bwoooh!*

  • If you're curious and want to try out gratitude,

  • we made a thing.

  • Please note that you don't need to buy anything

  • from anyone to practice gratitude,

  • all you need is paper,

  • a pen,

  • and five minutes.

  • Having said that,

  • we've made a Kurzegesagt Gratitude Journal.

  • Based on studies we've read,

  • conversations with experts,

  • and our personal experiences with gratitude over the last year.

  • It's structured in a way

  • that might make it a bit easier to

  • get into the habit of gratitude journaling.

  • There are short explanations and reflections

  • to mix it up,

  • and make it more interesting.

  • We've also made it as pretty as we could.

  • The video continues the unofficial series of

  • more personal, introspective videos

  • from optimistic nihilism to loneliness,

  • and now, gratitude.

  • We don't want to be a self-help channel,

  • so we'll keep this sort of video at roughly one per year.

  • We hope they're helpful to some of you.

  • Thank you for watching.

  • *Quack!*

Everybody is familiar with the feeling that things are not as they should be.

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B1 US gratitude grateful positive dissatisfaction life brain

An Antidote to Dissatisfaction

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    郭韋良 posted on 2019/12/09
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