Why can't people be happier together?

Why some people can never be satisfied!

We all have bad days when we complain and are dissatisfied. A recent study suggests that there are chronically dissatisfied people. Not only are they never satisfied with what is and what they have, they are also (unconsciously) looking for ways to strengthen this feeling!

Doubting every now and then, complaining or looking in the dark does not turn anyone into a notorious pessimist who sees everything badly and is always dissatisfied. Feeling a little bad mood and dissatisfaction every now and then is human and part of it.

Dissatisfaction isn't bad per se. It shows us that something is wrong at the moment. Maybe only in this moment, but maybe it's also about something fundamental in our life. Being dissatisfied can make us pause to think about what is bothering us and what could be a solution. It can be a motor and stimulus for positive change.

Intensity and focus make the difference

Occasional dissatisfaction is not a sign of emotional instability. However, if the mood settles over everything, you are virtually under the spell of these behaviors and there is no longer any room for other perceptions and feelings, then you can speak of a chronification.

Dysthymia - chronic persistent mood

One of these chronic diseases is dysthymia. It is largely unknown to the public, but robs those affected of any quality of life. It is a mild and chronic special form of depression. As a result, it is estimated that around five percent of the population suffer from this form of "permanent ill feeling".

Bad mood is contagious and depressing

Because this depression is less noticeable, it is often overlooked and therefore often not treated. Dysthymics are often perceived as notorious pessimists and often have to live with their suffering for many years. Although they get along in everyday life, they are mostly socially excluded. Hardly anyone likes to be with them constantly in a bad mood, grumpy and dissatisfied.

A lack of gratitude makes you dissatisfied

The opposite of dissatisfaction is acceptance and gratitude. To perceive what is and to acknowledge what one has - in short, to be grateful. Dysthymia, like narcissism or psychopathy, make it almost impossible for those affected to feel gratitude. According to recent research by Charlotte Witvliet and colleagues from Hope College (Michigan) (2019), there are also mentally healthy people who lack the emotional ability to feel gratitude.

Gratitude is the key to satisfaction

Gratitude is a central characteristic that contributes to whether we are satisfied - even happy - or not. Ingratitude almost inevitably leads to great dissatisfaction and a lack of zest for life. If we always look for the fly in the ointment, we will never experience abundance. Our attention is then only where the lack is. Witvielt even goes a step further by claiming that all other positive qualities cannot make us happy if we cannot be grateful!

Self-fulfilling prophecies

The great danger of becoming chronically ungrateful is that life becomes an endless, self-fulfilling prophecy. For example, one assumes, even before a conversation, that the other is not listening. If, contrary to expectations, he did listen, it is hardly noticeable or not enough.

If friendly favors are only followed by mechanical thank you phrases, because the support is not enough - and certainly not your own demands for perfection, then most people stop their help at some point. You don't have to be a Diabolus Advocatus to suspect that the previous belief “People always have no desire to help” is self-fulfilling here.

The good news!

Gratitude can be learned, trained and strengthened. Chronic dissatisfaction is not an irrevocable stroke of fate. A multitude of studies proves that pathological discomfort can be overcome! Even simple mindfulness exercises stimulate our ability to be grateful.

You can keep a gratitude journal and write down at least three things each evening that you were grateful for that day. In future it is better to say too much thank you than too little. These are very simple and efficient exercises.


Everyone knows moments of dissatisfaction. However, it is important not to get stuck in it for too long, but to appreciate life itself and also to be grateful for the many little things.


Witvliet, C. vanOyen, Richie, F. J., Root Luna, L. M., & Van Tongeren, D. R. (2019). Gratitude predicts hope and happiness: A two-study assessment of traits and states. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 14 (3), 271-282. doi: 10.1080 / 17439760.2018.1424924

You may also be interested in the following texts:

Why gratitude is a key to satisfaction: Far away from politeness reflexes and trained expressions of thanks, real gratitude is very important for our emotional balance!

From “not bad at all” to “good” in four steps: good or not bad at all? It makes a difference in our head and with our mood whether we habitually find something “good” or just “not bad”.

Why does wisdom make you satisfied ?: Studies show that wise people are satisfied - but not all satisfied are wise. What exactly is wisdom? Can you learn to be wise?

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