Turkey thanks with a little religion

Leave it to the experts to tell us how to deal with the in-laws, the five pounds we're bound to gain and the tragedy of whatever football teams lose today.

Thanksgiving isn't just a holiday, after all. You can change your whole attitude about life with some simple strategies, so says the New York Times.

The most psychologically correct holiday of the year is upon us.

Thanksgiving may be the holiday from hell for nutritionists, and it produces plenty of war stories for psychiatrists dealing with drunken family meltdowns. But it has recently become the favorite feast of psychologists studying the consequences of giving thanks.

I enjoyed the intro to the story, but the bursts of advice were a bit obvious to me. Start a journal, say thank you, don't counterattack, conduct a "gratitude visit." The possibilities really are endless. The author sought advice from a series of experts, naturally found from people with a PhD after their name.

In the piece, there's one little section in the piece that deals with faith, but it's rather brief.

Contemplate a higher power. Religious individuals don’t necessarily act with more gratitude in a specific situation, but thinking about religion can cause people to feel and act more gratefully, as demonstrated in experiments by Jo-Ann Tsang and colleagues at Baylor University. Other research shows that praying can increase gratitude.

This section isn't quite clear to me. Thinking about religion in general causes people to feel grateful? So if I'm just thinking about Buddhism, I'll produce a thankful spirit? Something tells me participation in religious rituals might have something to do with it, if you attend a service, pray, do meditation, or something, but it's unclear from the description what specifics the survey found.

A piece from Ansley Roan at CNN's Belief Blog explores some new religion details.

While gratitude is a perennial topic in religion publishing, today’s books differ from those being published 10 years ago, according to Marcia Z. Nelson, associate religion editor for Publishers Weekly.

“Since 2008, I’ve seen many religion books that are almost a prophetic cry against greed and excess,” she said. “The two things are related, ‘Be grateful for what you have.’ ‘You have more than enough.’ But I don’t see the same focus on gratitude, so much as being content.”

Research shows that feelings like gratitude and contentment don't always come easily.

“There’s something called the negativity bias,” said Rubin, the author. “Anything that’s negative catches our attention better than things that are positive. So having some kind of strategy can remind you of things to be grateful for.”

Be assured, your Facebook feed will be filled today with little tributes of thanks for family and friends. It's unclear whether that will do anything to boost your spirits, but it won't be surprising if you find mentions of faith here and there. Pumpkin image via Shutterstock.

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