Adolescence Feelings Mental Health Teen Activism

The Power of a Gratitude List

gratitudeIf you’re down in the dumps or having a tough time getting out of an emotional rut, making a gratitude list can help. When things are difficult, it’s not uncommon to focus on the negative, particularly when it feels like “bad” is conspiring against you. Gratitude lists are simple, straightforward, and tremendously helpful.


Grab a notebook, and call it your “book of gratitude,” or whatever name suits you. Commit to writing down three things every day that you are grateful for. It can be anything:


  • Your dog
  • Oreo cookies
  • Laughter
  • Books
  • The sun
  • Wind
  • Your best friend
  • Your mom or dad or both
  • The earth
  • The ocean
  • Your breakfast cereal


See where I’m going with this? A gratitude list doesn’t have to be epic or profound. It just has to contain things, no matter how small, that inspire gratitude.


If you want to kick it up a notch, be of service. Volunteer for an organization you believe in. We sponsor Mutt Match dog adoption events twice a month, and I have to tell you, everyone who volunteers inadvertently begins to feel some gratitude. You can:


  • Volunteer at your local animal shelter
  • Volunteer for an organization you believe in. Check out Do Something for some interesting and inspiring organizations young people can get involved in.
  • Do a beach cleanup. Check out Heal the Bay.
  • Volunteer for a teen helpline or get involved in peer counseling.
  • Check out organizations directly associated with your community: maybe there’s a homeless population that you want to help, or perhaps your local library offers opportunities to read to younger kids.


The options for service and discovering gratitude are vast and endless. Helping others inspires gratitude, and it gets you out of yourself.  Creating a Gratitude list is really the beginning of what can be wonderful opportunities to be of service and feel better about yourself.


Adolescence Recovery Service Teen Activism

Teen Activism: Mutt Match LA

Lulu via @saritphoto

Activism is something that has informed my life since I was a teen. In recovery, activism has been something that has allowed me to soothe my soul and be of service on a deeper, more profound level. Activism has allowed me to step out of myself, opening my heart and invoking deep intentions and inspiration to work with not only my shadow side but also the shadow side of others.  To truly be of service is to allow yourself to hold space for others regardless of the depth of their suffering, finding a way not to take things personally but to instead be a beacon of altruistic light.


At Visions, we have been encouraging our teens to take an activist stance as a way to be of service. For example, over the last year, we have sponsored dog adoptions for Mutt Match LA, a “non-specific breed rescue committed to Rescue, Rehabilitation and Re-homing of abandoned, homeless and unwanted dogs.” Jesse Engdahl has been a huge source of encouragement in this regard, showing up the first two Saturdays of every month on behalf of Visions with alumni and current outpatient clients alongside him.  It has proven to be a wonderful way to give back to the community.


Animal rescue has been an activist cornerstone for the Visions kids. It’s something that’s always touched the hearts of our teens; in fact, my dog, Lulu, was a rescue from one of our alumni!  There’s a visceral sense of being of service when you are active in the process.  Suffice it to say, helping helpless animals feeds the soul.  I asked Jesse about his experience in taking the kids to Mutt Match, and he said, “The kids stay really engaged caring for the dogs.  Walking and feeding the puppies offers a really easy way to be responsible and be of service. They love it. They get to be at Visions with a bunch of puppies!” What’s not to love, right? Puppies and dogs love you regardless of your fashion sense, weight, or financial status. They just love you and want love in return. What a cool way to be of service!


If you are an alumni and interested in getting involved with the next Mutt Match LA adoption event, you can email Jesse. The next Mutt Match event is THIS Saturday, 10/12,


This is the first of many blogs inspired by activism. The possibilities are endless! If you are interested in sharing your experiences with activism or want to share some ideas with me, please email me directly at Your stories and experiences bring hope and inspiration and I would love to share them.

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