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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.
Those who are more materialistic are more likely to relentlessly pursue wealth. Gratitude has caused me to focus less on things that don’t matter, like making money, and more on the things that do, like my family and this blog. Spiritual transcendence is I believe the opposite to also be true, that gratitude spontaneously gives rise to spiritual attribution, helping one feel closer to God or other religious entities.
So while gratitude won’t make you lazy, over your lifetime you may end up earning less money. You may, for example, spend time with friends, family, and your hobbies. I am irreligious, and have found gratitude practices to make my spiritual position difficult – those moments when I feel intense gratitude make me want to believe in a benevolent God.
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.
Many of the sub-traits associated with spirituality are the same sub-traits associated with gratitude.
Hedonic adaptation gives unparalleled resiliency and keeps us motivated to achieve ever greater things.
Those who have been disabled have a remarkable ability to rebound – initially they may feel terrible, but after months or years they are on average just as happy as everyone else.
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.