We all know that Thanksgiving is a time for giving thanks. It’s right there in the name, you can’t miss it. However, the holidays can also mean spending a lot of time with your family, which, if you’re like most people, can be stressful. If your mom is constantly telling you to stop being a Grinch, now you can tell her that being negative can actually be a positive for your health.
Two studies out this week indicate that negative comments can have health benefits. As MSNBC reports, complaining can help inspire people to change a bad situation.“In order to actually change the system, you’ve got to know what’s wrong with it,” says India Johnson, a graduate student at Ohio State University who helped lead the study, which is headed to the journal Psychological Science. So if your father insists on deep-frying the turkey every Thanksgiving, despite the fire hazard and health risks, complaining about it could cause him to flip the bird and tell you to stuff it, but he may also hand over turkey baking duty to you.
(PHOTOS: The Kitsch of Thanksgiving)
A second study also reported in MSNBC, reveals that harsh criticism can actually be more effective than positive feedback. According to new research appearing in the Journal of Consumer Research, experts may only respond to strong words (i.e. “It stinks!”), which suggests that negative words can bring about positive change. If you apply this lesson to Aunt Ginny’s special green bean casserole, you should tell her straight up that the casserole is revolting. It may be the only way that your complaints about the cream of mushroom soup and french fried onions will register. If she doesn’t throw the casserole at you, your feedback may inspire Aunt Ginny to update her recipe.
So complain away, but be aware that you may spending next Thanksgiving mentally healthy, but alone.