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The holidays can have a lot of different meanings. They can be a time for celebration, spending quality time with family, eating good food, and relaxing. They can also be stressful, over-indulgent, over-stimulating, lonely, explosive…you get the picture. As Thanksgiving approaches, I have been thinking about the power of gratitude, and what it means to truly practice gratitude.

Research has shown that regularly calling to mind and writing down things that you are grateful for makes you happier. Researchers compared what happened when people kept a daily journal of things that annoyed them, a daily journal of things that they were grateful for, and a daily journal where they wrote whatever they wanted. The people who wrote down things they were thankful for were found to be more satisfied and happier at the end of the study. As far as we know, nothing about their external circumstances changed – they simply shifted the focus of their attention!

New research by Dr. Robert Emmons has found ways to make your gratitude practice even more profound – for example, getting very deep and specific about your gratitudes – i.e., rather than “I am grateful for my parents,” saying “I am grateful that my parents taught me healthy eating habits at a young age, even though I was mad at the time that we didn’t have candy in the house.”

When a loved one is struggling, when a family is struggling, often our inclination is to zero in on everything that is going wrong. And a lot is usually going wrong! But, even in the midst of difficulty, we can still find a tremendous amount to be grateful for. Practicing looking for the bright spots isn’t a cheap trick to try to cancel out the dark, but a profound way of expanding our frame of reference.

Happy Thanksgiving from Sandstone Care!

For some tips on putting this practice into action, check out this brief youtube video from Wellcast:

About Sandstone Care

Sandstone Care is a Denver, Colorado-based treatment program for young adults and adolescents struggling with substance abuse and co-occurring disorders. Sandstone Care offers a full continuum of outpatient care including Extended Care, Day Treatment, Intensive Outpatient, and General Outpatient Programs for young adults (ages 18-30) and adolescents & troubled teens (ages 13-18). Sandstone Care believes that successful outcomes are achieved through a systemic, evidence-based approach that addresses the entire individual as well as their environment – this means providing academic & vocational support to help individuals achieve their goals and discover their strengths, family participation to educate and support the entire family system, psychiatric and dietitian evaluations and support to promote a healthy mind and body, as well as community-based activities along with the more traditional evidence-based group and individual therapy. If you or a loved one needs additional support, call our confidential line, at (888) 850-1890 or fill out the form on our website, and our admissions team will be able to answer any questions as well as guide you and your loved ones toward the path of long-lasting recovery. For more information, visit