By Shawn McAndrew
In the mid-1990s, someone gave me a journal. Maybe they gave it to me because I am a writer, and they thought I could do something with it. Feeling stumped, I soon thought about writing a gratitude each day for a month. I called it, “Good Things Happen.” I was experiencing a dark time, having suffered an injury on the job, ended a relationship, and I was not sure what my future held.
At first, I wrote a one-sentence description of something good that had happened during the day. Then I started to expand the “good” story of the day. Soon, each day took up a full page in the journal. I wrote consistently for several days. After a couple weeks I began to notice a subtle shift in my mood, and my outlook toward life. I continued writing for a couple of months.
Shifting the Internal Message
A few years later, when I took the Hoffman Process, I came to understand what I had been doing – shifting my brain cells from looking at doom and gloom to being hopeful and resilient. My internal message had shifted from “I’m worthless; nothing good happens to me; I might as well just give up” to “I am of value in this world; people love and care about me; I love and care about myself.”
That shift in focus had to do with appreciation and gratitude, two things that are core elements of Hoffman work. We cannot walk our talk without them. Being appreciative and grateful is our way of being aware of what’s in our hearts, what we are feeling, and connecting with those around us.
Right now, so many people are in pain, suffering from losses, uncertain about the present, unsure about the future. I hear psychologists and life coaches talk about how much their workload has increased in the past eight months. Their clients are struggling with depression, fear, lack of purpose, loss.
Appreciating Each Day
I’m not suggesting that doing an appreciation and gratitude each day is a cure for this deep hurt. It is, though, one of the avenues by which we can steer ourselves back to the Right Road. Appreciation and gratitude can help to shift the negative into positive; to transform Dark Side messages into positive ways of being. If we are able to change the message, we can begin to change our attitude, and hopefully see a way forward.
The Process is brilliantly crafted to bring about this change. We progress from pattern exploration and debunking to building up ourselves into a vibrant, positive, self-assured Quadrinity, led by Spirit.
Every time we appreciate something or find gratitude, we are invoking Spirit. We can even find the silver lining in a horrible situation; that is the ultimate example of appreciation and gratitude. It helps us build resilience. Through appreciation and gratitude, we can find compassion and empathy for our and others’ plights.
I challenge each of you to start your own appreciation and gratitude journal (a pad of paper is as good as a high-priced book of blank paper). As we do in the Process and subsequent multi-day courses, write down one to three things for which you are grateful and one to three things you appreciate – about yourself, others, and/or the day. Then watch what happens; take note of any shifts you experience in the coming days and weeks – in your outlook, your thinking, your attitude. This is where Spirit lives. This is the shift that can happen. Take a listen to this Gratitude visualization by Hoffman teacher Hilary Illick here.