Everybody’s 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 for 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,
于是 积极心理学一度兴起 该领域旨在研究生命的价值
while cognitive behavioral therapy was developed to change negative feelings.
Scientists began to ask, “why are some people happier and more satisfied than others,
科学家们很好奇 为什么有些人活得比别人更幸福 更满足
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.
And antidote to dissatisfaction, so to speak.
While gratitude might 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 will include them in the description.
Gratitude can mean very different things to different people in different contexts.
感恩 在不同情境和不同的人身上 意义也不尽相同
It’s a character trait, a feeling, a virtue, and a behavior.
它可以是一种性格 一份感觉 一次善举和一个行为
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.
1. 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,
在动物界 某些鱼类 鸟类 哺乳类 特别是灵长类动物
but especially in primates.
When your brain recognizes 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.
感恩教会我们关爱别人 相应地 别人也会关心我们
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.
能够与他人和睦相处 并建立长久的关系 是一种进化优势
For example, if you were hungry and someone else showed you where to find tasty berries,
例如 当你饿的时候 有人告诉你哪里可以找到美味的浆果
you felt gratitude towards them, and a bond to return the favor in the future.
A drive to be prosocial.
When you repay them, they felt gratitude towards you.
This brought your ancestors closer together, and forged bonds and friendships.
正因如此 我们的祖先才能够建立关系 彼此亲近并产生友谊
So early forms of gratitude were biological mechanisms
that modified your behavior towards cooperation,
which helped humans to dominate Earth.
But over time, gratitude became more than just an impulse to play fair.
2. 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 and traits
like envy and social comparison,
narcissism, cynicism and materialism.
As a consequence, people who are grateful no matter what for
因此 那些心怀感恩之人 无论出于何种原因
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,
睡眠质量更好 比较不容易抑郁 药物成瘾或精神崩溃
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.
也许你为某件事努力很久 而一旦成功了 又觉得不值得 内心空虚无比
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 hangout,
but you might feel that this is not enough,
that you’re a loser and feel bad about yourself.
So you might turn down their attempts to hangout,
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 prosocial behavior,
which leads to more positive social experiences
that cause more positive feelings.
This is a common experience after serious hardship like chemotherapy, for example.
这是人们在历尽重大挫折 如化疗之后 普遍会有的经历
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 maybe even slightly worse than before,
客观而言 你的生活和以前一样 甚至可能不如从前
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 to make you feel more of it?
3. How to make your brain more grateful
The ability to experiences 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 to 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 for you?
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 shown 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 behavior.
It’s pretty mind-blowing 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
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.
你只需要一张纸 一支笔 花五分钟
Having said that, we’ve made a Kurzgesagt 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.
This video continues the unofficial series
of more personal, introspective videos
from “Optimistic Nihilism” to “Loneliness” and now, “Gratitude.”
从“乐观虚无主义” “孤独” 到这一期的“感恩”
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.
Everybody’s familiar with the feeling that things are not as they should be.