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For the rest of us, endlessly slaving for the next promotion so you can buy that next Ikea furniture set, or wasting hours endlessly trying to look perfect online is a meat grinder that chews us up and leaves us damaged, burned out and immature.

In the end, success really is the dividing line, with the problem being that everyone wants to term themselves as a runaway success when in reality, true success that’s actually worth throwing your contentment away for is really just one in a million.

The Hedonistic Treadmill Stops Us Enjoying Anything for Too Long

What’s the problem with enjoying material possessions? That’s a great question, I’ll tell you exactly why. The problem is the hedonistic treadmill. It’s a psychological concept that states that no matter what happens in your life, you will always go back to the same emotional baseline.

Things might look up for a while after that big promotion, but after a few months, you’ll still be grinding away looking up for the next temporary reprieve.

Even lottery winners who find themselves never truly needing to work again in their lives, owning literally everything they ever dreamed of owning end up depressed and bored.

Have you never wondered why Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Richard Branson didn’t just give it all up after they made their billions and go and live a happy life on their private islands?

Because material gains are never truly the answer. The struggle can be satisfying enough for some people, but for the majority, material gains and ephemeral status symbols will never properly result in lasting happiness and contentment.

This is because of the hedonistic treadmill. Because no matter what you achieve, what you gain and how you live, you’ll always find yourself drifting backwards to that same basic baseline of emotions. Bit depressing in itself, isn’t it?

Social Media and Status isn’t the Key

Before you think that I’m going in on materialism and consumerism a little too much, don’t worry. Social media and these ephemeral forms of status deserve some credit too when it comes to making people miserable.

Sure, there’s always going to be a select few of beautiful, amazing people who’ve crafted their lives to look so spectacular that social media really works for them, but they are the extreme minority.

For the rest of us, social media simply tricks us into thinking we’re the stars of our own reality television shows, then has the board meeting where you’re told the ratings were terrible; every single time you look at your phone.

We all like that hit of dopamine that comes when we get slightly more likes or comments on a selfie, Click To Tweet

but after that, we’ll just find ourselves struggling a little bit harder to achieve the same thing again.

Gratitude and its Many Benefits

If I sound a little bit cult-like, I apologise. The fact is, too many people are caught in a cycle that results in happiness in the extreme short-term, and miserable grinding in the long. It prevents real achievement, as well as happiness, contentment and emotional maturity.

Gratitude might sound like an easy get out card, but in reality, it’s a hard skill to learn. True gratitude is a habit that takes years to develop, but the benefits come thick and fast from the get-go.

One of the major benefits of real gratitude is empathy and the emotional maturity that comes alongside it. By being really, truly grateful for all the positive things in your life, you can better understand other people, and move beyond materialistic immaturity. Through this, you can begin to defeat ego too.

Once you pass through these elements, then you’re going to realise that you’re becoming more of the version of yourself that you want to be. With that comes confidence, closer, better friendships and relationships, and better overall people skills.

At the end of it all, what building proper gratitude results in is limitless positivity. No one can be unhappy when they fully appreciate the thousand different amazing coincidences that made them and the infinite effort people around them have put in to help them reach where they are. In reality, not one of us stands completely alone, and gratitude is the only way to completely see that, and allow it to turn to positivity.

It really does sound like some kind of unbelievable superpower, right? That’s because it basically is. Too many people have let it fall way down by the wayside, and it’s easy to see why in today’s world of instant gratification and endless goals to reach for.

How to Build Gratitude

So, here’s the big question. How exactly do you start to really build gratitude and integrate it into your life? Well, it’s not difficult, but it does require perseverance, and there’s also no real roadmap. It all comes down to building habits and sticking with them, through thick and thin.

Starting with a close and unflinching look at yourself and the ways you live your life is key. Look at all the benefits, coincidences and pieces of kindness that have led you to where you are today.

Even in the harshest of existences, you’re still exceptionally lucky to have even been born you. Generations upon generations, going back thousands of years, had to meet at exactly the right time just to make you.

That’s so unlikely that it deserves celebration with positivity and gratitude. Apps like Analyze.Life can also help you track and measure your gratitude and happiness.