As the holiday shopping season moves into high gear, it’s easy to get caught up in the rush of spending. But consider this conclusion from recent scientific research: Materialistic people are less happy than their peers. They experience fewer positive emotions, are less satisfied with life and suffer higher levels of anxiety, depression, and substance abuse.
Why is this the case—and how can we avoid falling into the unhappiness trap of materialism this holiday season?
One answer has been emerging from social science: Cultivate a mind-set of gratitude. Gratitude is proving to be about much more than the occasional “thank you.” Instead, the principles of Thanksgiving give rise to a unique way of seeing the world.
The latest evidence suggests that, rather than simply being about good manners, the emotion of gratitude might have deep roots in humans’ evolutionary history, sustaining the social bonds that are key not only to our happiness but also to our survival as a species.