At Fortune‘s Brainstorm Health conference, actress Edie Falco explained how cancer, sobriety, therapy, and Buddhism prompted her to stop being cynical about counting her blessings. This is a response to the conversation between Falco and Arianna Huffington, shown here.

I think gratitude is different than positive thinking. I think of gratitude as the practice of seeing the other half of the truth. When people are depressed, they tend to reflect on and rehearse the half of the truth that is bad, sad, and negative. Being in a bad space tends to be isolating, so it can be hard to have helpful comparisons (e.g. “Well, at least I’m not dealing with ___”).

I also think gratitude is not about foreclosing on disappointment, hurt, anger, and sadness. It’s not about denying when something is awful. It’s just reflecting on what you still have, what’s good, and what’s better. 

And on a neuronal level, what we practice, by default or through intention, will eventually become real pathways in our brain. If we’re walking the path of negativity, that becomes the norm. Likewise with a habit of gratitude.

So it’s a dialectic. “That really sucks. And this is pretty great.” They are both true. 


  • Jackie Wright Holland, LICSW, has over a decade of experience as a therapist, specializing in providing individually tailored, evidence-based therapies for the sustainable treatment of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Anxiety, and Depression. She is certified in both Cognitive Processing Therapy and Prolonged Exposure and has extensive training and experience in Dialectical Behavior Therapy.  Jackie’s clinical career started as both a trauma and DBT therapist in Veterans Affairs (Minneapolis, Minnesota and San Luis Obispo, California), treating veterans with PTSD due to combat and/or sexual trauma. Within the VA, Jackie has also been a national DBT trainer, provided consultation for developing DBT programs, and was formerly the DBT Program Director of the Minneapolis Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Jackie received her graduate degree from the University of Minnesota School of Social Work and served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Zambia. Jackie has a passion for, and genuine approach to, integrating research-based therapies in real-world settings while empowering individuals to accomplish their goals. She currently owns and practices at the Minnesota Evidence-Based Therapy and Assessment Clinic, LLC in Minnesota.