Gratitude in Early Recovery

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“And I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, ‘If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.’”
-Kurt Vonnegut

Why does gratitude matter?

To have gratitude and practice the act of being gracious means that you do not take anything for granted. Instead, you choose to find value and meaning in your experience of the world, and you take a moment to appreciate what has been given to you. 

For those in recovery, the experience of gratitude begins with focused attention towards their second chance at life, on their ability to create something new for themselves, and move away from the life they knew before. Beginning from this place of humility, those in early recovery that practice gratitude are more in tune with the direction that their lives could have taken, and thus, make choices that reflect their decision to chart a different course. 

The importance of being gracious as it relates to our overall psychological and emotional wellbeing has gained so much popularity that scientists now focus a great deal of scientific research on the subject. Research results consistently demonstrate that there is a strong relationship between practicing gratitude and positive overall wellbeing. 

How do I learn to be grateful? 

  • Focus. Start by focusing on the people, relationships, and the things in your life that you already have. Practicing gratitude means wanting what you already have instead of focusing on having what you want
  • Learn to appreciate yourself as you are. Start by stating out loud 5 positive affirmations about yourself. Say five good and positive facts about yourself, your accomplishments, and who you are as a person. Remind yourself of your qualities, virtues, history of kindness, and loving actions. Do this action every day until you genuinely begin to appreciate and truly love your own unique self.     
  • Journal. The simple act of taking the time to write things down encourages you to think about and take notice of events in your life. Journal special encounters of the day, gifts you may have received, or anyone or anything who impacted you positively in any way, etc.
  • Handwrite Thank-You notes. Taking the time to acknowledge someone else for something nice they have said or done to you not only strengthens our relationships with others but also increases our own sense of appreciation for the role they may play in our life. It’s a win-win. The recipient of your note and you, the writer, both feel good!
  • Practice Mindfulness. Mindfulness can be as simple as taking some quiet time to deep breathe and relax. It’s a time that lets you organize your thoughts and feelings and just be in the present moment. It’s a focused time to think about the things in your life; people who have positively impacted you in any way and the beauty that surrounds you that often goes unnoticed. 
  • Talk about it. Find time in your day to verbally express the things you are grateful for.  You can verbalize your gratitude to someone else or to yourself privately. Either way, by verbalizing your gratitude, it creates an opportunity to hear out-loud what you are thinking and feeling.   

Now that you know the importance of practicing gratitude as well as some ways to implement gratitude into your life, let’s look at some of the benefits you will have. 

The Benefits of Practicing Gratitude

Expressing gratitude makes us happy!

Taking the time to thank others, even ourselves makes our lives feel more meaningful and improves our overall mood and sense of wellbeing. When we practice gratitude, we build stronger and longer-lasting relationships and experience genuine positive emotions such as happiness and contentedness. 

Our perspective and our relationships will improve

Actively practicing gratitude gives us the opportunity to share with others how much we appreciate and value their influence and contribution to our lives. We not only generate positive feelings in others, but we generate positive and healthy feelings in ourselves when we train our attention to notice the ways that others show their love and concern for us. 

Practicing gratitude helps us sleep better and have more energy

Research studies in Positive Psychology have demonstrated that expressing gratitude to others activates a part of our brain called the hypothalamus. When our hypothalamus is triggered by our practice of gratitude it creates a naturally better, less interrupted pattern of sleep for us. According to Zahn (2009), a brain filled with gratitude is more likely to sleep better and wake up feeling refreshed and energetic every morning. 

We’ll feel less anxiety and less stress

Additional studies on gratitude have shown that people who feel the effects of practicing gratitude produce less of the stress hormone, cortisol. The reduction of cortisol in our bodies has been linked with significant reductions in the symptoms of anxiety and depression. 

Expressing gratitude also helps us manage negative emotions like despair, sadness, guilt, and anger. People who verbalize or otherwise express their gratitude on a regular basis are more positive and emotionally content. Additionally, when they do experience stress, they are often more resilient and learn to manage their emotional reactions much more effectively.  

Practicing Gratitude is a Way of Life

Truly, every aspect of our life is positively affected by practicing gratitude.  

By first appreciating ourselves, we can begin the process of appreciating and showing thankfulness for everyone and everything else around us. We learn to take nothing for granted and instead take the time to show and feel how much we appreciate who and what we have. 

Very often the small, little things in our lives give us the most genuine and sincere pleasure. Practicing gratitude encourages us to take notice and appreciate all that we are blessed to have been given. In early recovery, this is especially important, as this is when we are working most intently on establishing a life full of healthy practices. 

As you’re working your aftercare plan, make sure that you are dedicating time and brain space to these healthy habits that truly have the power to shape your life in incredibly important ways. Gratitude is not a one-time feeling or a fleeting sentiment. It is as vital to your recovery as exercise, nutrition, and sleep.

At Launch Centers, we work with you to establish a holistic approach and create long-term recovery practices for those with alcohol and drug use, mental health, and co-occurring disorders. Contact us today and let us help you live a healthy, fulfilling life.

About Our Founder

Jose Hernandez, for over a decade, has been involved in alcohol and addiction recovery helping people succeed in overcoming substance abuse and regaining control of their lives. He has experience in all aspects of the recovery world, from facilitating entry into treatment as an intervention specialist to counseling and case management at rehabilitation facilities. Jose has worked one-on-one with individuals as a sober companion and with groups as a resident counselor at addiction treatment centers and is certified by the California Association of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors (CAADAC) to practice as a substance abuse counselor.

Through his professional experiences in crisis intervention, drug and alcohol detoxification, substance abuse counseling, and relapse prevention, Jose has developed a unique plan for case management that bridges the gap between a person’s painful past of substance abuse and a future of sobriety.

At Riviera Recovery, a sober living facility with multiple locations, clients continue their transition from the supportive environment of a treatment center to living well and happily in the “real” world. The program he designed at Riviera Recovery personalizes treatment plans that enable clients, including those with a single or dual-diagnosed mental health disorder, to embrace a satisfying life.

His greatest endeavor has been establishing LAUNCH, a Los Angeles-based life skills intensive outpatient program for young adults. LAUNCH works with recovering men and women to establish personal vocational and educational goals and develop the tools to successfully meet them. His mission is to ensure that no one stands alone in his or her recovery.

Meet Our Clinical Team

staff member drug alcohol treatment los angeles

Jess Beck, LCSW

Clinical Director

treatment team los angeles ca

Eric Chaghouri, MD


chloe kruskol los angeles rehab team

Chloe Kruskol, LCSW

Family Program Manager

Our Testimonials

Clients and Professionals Share Their Experience

  • HO

    Launch provided care on multiple levels. The highly skilled therapist coupled with the focus on purpose and long-term goals refocused my recovery from what previous treatment centers pushed onto me. I went from believing that I needed years of treatment to believing I needed years happiness and success. I began to focus on what I wanted to accomplish with my life. I came to realize all the things my addiction and mental illness had taken from me, and I used my future goals as a reason to never pick up again. Due to the passion that Launch instilled in me, I have pursued my future with excitement and dedication.

  • Nicole

    This place changed my life! I’ve had good laughs, good cries, shared a lot of heart to heart moments and grew a loving bond with everyone at Launch Centers. I will always be grateful!!! I really do miss it time to time. I highly recommend Launch Centers!

  • Joey

    The staff and clinicians are amazing and make you feel right at home from the second you walk in the door. I would absolutely recommend this place for a family member or close friend.

  • Ben

    This treatment facility has changed my life. I have always struggled with my mental health and this young adult program provided me with the necessary skills to launch to adulthood. I commend anyone who struggles with mental health or substance use (which was not me) to try this program out. It will change your life.

  • Conner

    Launch Centers Treatment was a major help to me. The therapists and staff genuinely cared about me and truly helped me to make a plan for my future. My personal therapists helped me to discover where some of my deeper issues came from. All of the staff worked tirelessly with me to talk through my issues, or just about life, and offered realistic solutions to my current problems and situation. All of the staff went above and beyond and advocated relentlessly for me. I am very grateful that I was able to have such a wonderful experience with Launch.

  • Adam

    In no uncertain terms Launch Centers changed my life. The staff at Launch are professional, knowledgable and relatable. They keep the format diverse and interesting which kept me engaged in the process. The greatest thing we can do in life is seek to improve ourselves. Launch gave me a skill set I consider to be invaluable in the journey of becoming the best version of myself. I would implore anybody considering Launch to step outside their comfort zone and go, you will not regret it.


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