Many more thankful when times are tougher

Nov. 25, 2010 at 2:02 AM
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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C., Nov. 25 (UPI) -- If you feel more thankful this Thanksgiving, you are not alone, as U.S. researchers suggest tough economic times may make people more thankful.

Samuel T. Gladding, professor of counseling at Wake Forest University and an expert on families, says gratitude is a key to positive mental health and financial distress can help people be more thankful for relationships and people and non-material things.

"I think many families will be staying home this holiday season -- some with anxiety, others with hope, but the majority with gratitude for what they have," Gladding says in a statement. "We are not so different in 2010 from 1930 during the Great Depression."

Sandwiched between Halloween and Christmas, Thanksgiving has mostly avoided the consumerism of other holidays and instead of centering on gifts, it is a time for sharing a meal with friends and family, Gladding says.

To foster gratitude and build family connections at Thanksgiving, Gladding suggests:

-- Take time to reflect on what has gone right in your life.

-- Tell stories that reflect the good in people.

-- Strengthen generational ties by asking older members of the family to describe how they got through hard times.

-- Try to avoid cynicism and anger even if facing job loss or facing financial uncertainty.

-- Give your time and talents to others.

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