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Friday, November 26, 2010

Giving thanks has life-changing impact, priest and psychologist says

Denver, Colorado, November 26, 2010 (CNA)


Father Charles Shelton, a Jesuit priest, psychologist, and the author of a new book on gratitude, says that the choice to live gratefully can help to improve virtually every aspect of a person's life.

The Gratitude Factor,” is a book that examines the importance of giving thanks for one's work, leisure, relationships, and other everyday experiences of God's grace.

Father Shelton has made notable contributions to the field of “positive psychology,” a branch of the social science which studies the cultivation of virtue and well-being.

While some experiences naturally inspire a feeling of gratitude, others take work, patience and prayer to appreciate. Sometimes the benefit of a situation is completely hidden, requiring the attitude of faith.

Father Shelton noted that Thanksgiving was perfectly timed to help American Catholics rediscover Advent. An authentic Thanksgiving experience of gratitude, he said, could help Catholics begin preparing to receive the surpassing gift of Jesus' arrival, rather than focusing on shopping.

“Studies show that people who feel grateful, don't feel the need for as many material possessions,” he noted. “They don't have to fill themselves up” to compensate for a perceived “deficit.”

“Having felt God's gifts,” he said, “we can now prepare ourselves for the greatest gift,” that of Christ's birth “which is coming.”