This article appeared in the November 21, 2018 edition of the Monitor Daily.

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How Thanksgiving can change the world

Jacob Byk/The Wyoming Tribune Eagle/AP
Laila Robinson (l.) laughs with Connor Jones while dressed as turkeys after a Thanksgiving-themed play at Dildine Elementary School in Cheyenne, Wyo., on Tuesday.

Perhaps there’s something to this Thanksgiving thing. On the eve of Thanksgiving Day in the United States, consider the growing evidence of the transforming importance of gratitude.

Gratitude is one of the strongest predictors of life satisfaction. One study found that daily gratitude improved happiness as much as doubling your income. “Doubling your income takes a lot of time and effort,” notes a report in Quartz, “gratitude takes five minutes each night.”

Gratitude helps counter or reduce materialism. “Materialistic people are less happy than their peers,” writes Jason Marsh of the University of California, Berkeley in a Wall Street Journal article. “They experience fewer positive emotions, are less satisfied with life and suffer higher levels of anxiety, depression, and substance abuse.”

“Social emotions” like gratitude and compassion help us succeed, David DeSteno of Northeastern University tells The Atlantic. “When we feel grateful, compassionate toward ourselves and others, and proud of our abilities, the struggle to work hard for future rewards becomes, well, less of a struggle.”

And Professor Marsh adds: “There’s also evidence that practicing gratitude helps people bounce back from stressors and illness. More grateful people are less likely to get sick.”

Gratitude is more than the occasional “thank you,” he says. “Instead, the principles of Thanksgiving give rise to a unique way of seeing the world.”

Now, on to our five stories. We explore why words matter in Europe’s crisis of cooperation, how algorithms could help us beat human biases, and one woman’s determination to turn a dream into a blessing for Flint, Mich.

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This article appeared in the November 21, 2018 edition of the Monitor Daily.

Read 11/21 edition