Our brains are wired to keep wanting more, even if it doesn’t make you happy – here’s how to beat it

Researchers found answers to why we're constantly wanting more and craving more material things. Even when they make us feel unhappy!
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Do you feel like no matter what, you just can’t be content with what you have and feel like you need to do more?

Don’t beat yourself up over it; humans are naturally wired this way, say experts.

A new study led by researchers at Princeton University’s Department of Psychology found we crave more and more material things. Even when they make us feel unhappy!

But you can break the cycle…

Our brains are wired to keep wanting more, even if it doesn’t make you happy - here's how to beat it

Experts say our brains are wired to want more, even if it doesn’t make you happy

Experts say that our brains relentlessly pursue material goods, and we are often concerned about what we have and what we wish to achieve.

When we achieve that goal, we’ll then look to the next thing. This is because we might find that our expectations change over time.

“From ancient religious texts to modern literature, human history abounds with tales describing the struggle to achieve ever-lasting happiness,” says the study authors.

“Paradoxically, happiness is one of the most sought-after human emotions, yet achieving it over the long-term remains an elusive goal for many people.”

“Our results help explain why we are prone to becoming trapped in a cycle of never-ending wants and desires and may shed light on psychopathologies such as depression, materialism and overconsumption.”

Wanting material things fills a void in our life, but it doesn’t make us happy long term.

How to stop making yourself always want more

  1. Lower your expectations a little
  2. Limit your social media use – we often compare ourselves to unrealistic goals
  3.  Practice gratitude
  4. Life is about ‘doing’ not having, so go for experiences over objects
  5. Remember, you can’t take it with you…

If you find thinking positive or looking for the positives in your life difficult, here are some tips to get you to see the light at the end of the tunnel.   

3 simple ways to get a positive mindset that will help you achieve your goals

1. Use positive words

Beautiful positive happy young woman showing biceps

It can be as simple as learning and using positive words constantly. This then forces the brain to make these words, as well as the meanings and emotions associated with them, more accessible, connected and quicker to be activated in the brain.

Psychologists have looked at thousands of words, measuring how positive and negative they are. Think words like laughter, happiness, love, happy, excellent or joy. 

What do you see in the mirror today? Perhaps you haven’t reached your goal yet, or maybe you’re losing sight of why you started your journey. When you feel unmotivated, unfocused and ready to give up, try repeating mantras like: 

‘I can do this’ 

‘My goal is happiness’ 

‘I can fill my day with joy’

Note the use of the word ‘can’ instead of ‘will’ – you are in control of your choices.

You may feel silly at first, but the more you practice, the more you’ll see a positive shift in your mindset.  

2. Take note of the good in life

The bad stuff in life is inevitable, and thinking positive will not change that fact. However, if all you notice in life is the negative things, even when life seems to be going well, chances are you’ve trained your brain to focus on the negative by using negative words constantly.

It will be hard to retrain your brain to use positive words, but it can be done. Focus on positive information in your weight loss journey and divert your attention from the negative. 

Have you lost weight this week? Maybe it’s only 500g or less but instead of feeling like a failure, look at the fact that you’ve lost weight which is the opposite of you putting on weight!

Or maybe the scales haven’t moved, but you have more energy or have lost cms in measurements. Every little bit of progress not only counts as a positive but builds up to your larger weight loss goal.

3. Practice gratitude 

Women on edge of pool holding pink umbrellas in swimwear create a positive mindset

There is a myriad of things to be sad, anxious or angry about in our lives, no matter who you are. There are also a lot of things to be happy, joyful and grateful about.

Gratitude is the feeling of being thankful for a person, deed or experience. Research shows that when we practice gratitude, we see an increase in meaning and satisfaction in our lives.

Looking at the Annawadi slum in Mumbai, India, researchers found that inhabitants had a greater appreciation and gratitude for what they did have whilst knowing that they didn’t have much.

They also found inhabitants did not compare themselves in resentment to others who had more than them but were focused on how they might be able to achieve that for themselves. 

Whether it’s writing it down in your journal or phone or putting it up on a mood board, try to look at what you do have and how far you’ve come instead of comparing yourself to others wishing you were where they are.

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