Thanksgiving: Psychology, Gratitude, Funky Music

Turkey hand!
Turkey hand!
Elizabeth Beers/Creative Commons

So once more residents of the United States find themselves on a collision course with the Thanksgiving holiday. Some of us make a point of celebrating it, some are obligated and others disregard it as much as possible. Between the traditional turkey gluttony and America's historical mistreatment of Native Americans, there are certainly some good excuses to abstain.

Growing up, my favorite thing about Thanksgiving was the Mystery Science Theater 3,000 Turkey Day Marathon (1991-1995). I didn't really care about the whole gratitude thing to be honest. Today, however, it feels appropriate to think a bit about what's good in life and how little I've done to diverse any of it -- and it looks like science backs me up on that.

The Huffington Post published a cool article titled "The Neuroscience of Why Gratitude Makes Us Healthier" and it makes a good case for at least the core sentiment of the holiday. Author Ocean Robbins cites a study in which gracious test subjects were 25 percent happier than the "hassled group." Those 25 percentage points of good vibes also came with fewer health complaints and more exercise. Other studies cited in the article champion gratitude's power to save marriages and boost our interest in helping out fellow humans.

Psychology Today's "Make a Gratitude Adjustment" makes a compelling argument for the power of thanksgiving, especially when it comes to thank-you notes and other acts of written gratitude. And as the publication points out in this post, gratitude research indicates that a little thanksgiving can make you happier, more optimistic, more positive in your relationships, more altursitic, more consistent in exercise, more connected with a greater purpose in life and better able to cope with life transitions. It will even improve your sleep.

And as a final note, let's get to the funky music mentioned in the title. The most recent episode of the Solid Steel radio show features an amazing Thanksgiving Mix by Ohio-based DJ Ruckus Roboticus. Yes, I said an amazing Thanksgiving mix. Give it a listen and check out the track listing, but this is an excellent hour of reggae, funk and hip-hop -- all of it centering around the theme of thankfulness for all the good stuff in life. Hit play. It'll boost your spirits about all the relatives you're about to endure:

You can also grab the mix from Ruckus Roboticus' Bandcamp page.

About the Author: Robert Lamb spent his childhood reading books and staring into the woods — first in Newfoundland, Canada and then in rural Tennessee. There was also a long stretch in which he was terrified of alien abduction. He earned a degree in creative writing. He taught high school and then attended journalism school. He wrote for the smallest of small-town newspapers before finally becoming a full-time science writer and podcaster. He’s currently a senior writer at HowStuffWorks and has co-hosted the science podcast Stuff to Blow Your Mind since its inception in 2010. In his spare time, he enjoys traveling with his wife Bonnie, discussing dinosaurs with his son Bastian and crafting the occasional work of fiction.