Can Meditation Help Overcome our Biological Need for Dissatisfaction?
We’ve all had that dissatisfaction feeling that no matter how good things are, they can always be better.
This is why no matter what we have, we always want just a little bit more. A nicer car, more money in savings, a smaller waistline – these are all examples of our natural human instinct to be dissatisfied.
Researchers who study evolutionary biology propose that this tendency to want more is part of our hard-wired nature.
Pointing out that evolution rewards those who seek pleasure, scientists say that this instinct is part of our genetic makeup, and is a hard obstacle to overcome.
After all, continually striving for something else, or something better, is a backbone of human history, and this tendency to want is also tied to our tendency to be dissatisfied with what we have.
But there is a solution to this inherent instinct to be dissatisfied – namely, mindfulness meditation.
This idea meditation can reverse our biological dissatisfaction has been researched more thoroughly in recent months and years, but it’s certainly not a new concept.
The History of Instant Gratification
The idea that a big source of our suffering is that we crave and want things, but that the gratification that comes from achieving these things doesn’t last, is covered by almost every major religion, from Buddhism to Christianity.
Essentially, there’s an all-encompassing moral lesson in appreciating what we have, and this lesson translates to religions and cultures all over the world.
But forcing yourself to be satisfied right now – instead of envisioning what could be different and better – is a hard biological instinct to overcome. This is where mindfulness meditation comes into play.
Focusing on the Present
There’s ample research that backs up the idea mindfulness meditation can certainly help us rebel against this natural process.
When you meditate, you are not focusing on your ambitions, your desires or really anything that is pertaining to the future. Instead, you focus on the present moment, the here and now.
In addition, meditation teaches us how to simply observe, without judgement. You may find when you are meditating, you notice a pain, or a concern, or a stray thought, and when this occurs, you simply notice it without judgment before moving on.
And this process works with being dissatisfied as well, both during meditation, and in your day-to-day life. With meditation, we can filter and dispose of the thoughts that aren’t helpful, and inconsequential wants – like material possessions or other items that won’t bring long-term happiness – certainly qualify.
Looking at the Scientific Connection
MRI technology has helped bolster this scientific connection as well. A recent brain imaging study found that our brains’ “pleasure centers” are naturally boosted by mindfulness meditation, which makes us more satisfied with what we have, and therefore want less.
Granted, a feeling of dissatisfaction is certainly a hard hurdle to overcome. After all, it’s been a human trait for as long as humans have existed, so it naturally takes time to adjust this inherent inclination.
But finding peace and happiness in the life you have through mindfulness meditation – as opposed to what you’re lacking – is a solid first step in rebelling against this natural instinct.