Wanting the things that you already have can help you reach greater levels of contentment, according to a new study published in Psychological Science.
Texas Tech University psychologist Jeff Larsen and Amie McKibban of Wichita State University asked undergraduates to list which material items they owned, how much they wanted the things they already had and how much they desired items that they didn’t own. Those who most appreciated what they already had were happiest.
“Our data show that you need to appreciate those things you have,” says Larsen. “It’s also important to keep your desire for things you don’t own in check.”
Looks like Buddhists are right when they say that desire—that is, our insatiable craving for things—creates suffering. And it seems to me that this extends to non-material things, too. We’re happiest when we recognize and appreciate the good things in our lives.
The good news is that seeing your world through a positive lens is a skill that can be learned.
So, what makes you happiest?