HOPE: THE MOST POWERFUL HUMAN EMOTION
Hoping things can get better is the secret to taking action and realizing our dreams.
Learn what hope is, why it matters, its life-changing benefits, and 5 easy-to-implement ways to become more hopeful.
“Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul – and sings the tunes without the words – and never stops at all.” – Emily Dickinson
The dictionary definition of hope is:
- (noun): 1) the feeling that what we want can be had or that events will turn out for the best; 2) expectation of fulfillment or success;
- (verb): 1) to look forward to with desire and reasonable confidence; 2) to believe, desire or trust; 3) to feel that something desired may happen.
Hope is wanting for dreams to realize. It’s about being open-minded and optimistic, looking on the bright side, and seeing challenges as opportunities. It’s hoping for the best and having a desire for things to change for the better. Hope is a feeling.
Hope is not passive wishful thinking, denial, delusion, or ignoring the troubles in life, as some may think. On the contrary, hope is possibilities, opportunities, and results.
With hope, we understand that things are not as we would like them to be and that thinking drives us to take actions to change the status quo. Hope is goal-directed thinking geared to drive us to take action.
WHY DOES HAVING HOPE MATTER?
Hope makes us healthier, happier, more connected, more empathetic, and a better citizen of the world.
Having hope is crucial for our future. It helps us be resilient because it comes with the possibility that things can get better. Hoping that things will be better drives us to take action to make that happen. And taking action leads to results.
THE BENEFITS OF BEING HOPEFUL
Research shows that hope improves our health, wealth and happiness:
- We become more positive and optimistic.
- Feel more empowered, confident, and in control.
- Have less stress, anxiety, and fear.
- Have better emotional control.
- Are better at coping with adversity.
- Have better health as it motivates positive actions such as eating and exercising well.
- Become more compassionate and generous towards others.
- Have positive emotions such as happiness, confidence, and courage surfacing more often.
- Become more creative, productive, and better problem solvers.
- Experience greater academic and work achievements.
HOPE, RELATIONSHIPS AND SUCCESS
Hope has a big impact on our interpersonal connections, relationship interactions, and success in life
Having social support and connections impacts our feelings of hope as it motivates us to keep moving forward and finding better ways in life.
Hope, much like laughter, is contagious, makes us more desirable to be around, and brings us together.
Unfortunately, on the other side of the coin, studies show that we feel hopeless when we feel invisible and alone and that hopelessness is even more closely related to suicide than depression is.
Hope drives us to take action to make things happen. And taking action leads to achieving results.
5 WAYS TO BECOME MORE HOPEFUL
Being hopeful will not make us “cheerful all the time” or “naive Pollyannas”. On the contrary, hope expands our horizons for it allows us to see the diversity in everything, always offering a way out. In fact, hope makes us more pragmatic and realistic, allowing us to see other pathways for solutions. Here are my 5 ways to become more hopeful:
1. Remind yourself of your past successes. When you find yourself “stuck in a rut”, remind yourself of your own past successes. If you did it once, you can do it again, and again, and again. Even relatively small achievements can remind you of what you can accomplish and make you feel encouraged and motivated, creating momentum.
2. Get a good laugh. Research shows participants’ level of hope increased after watching funny videos. So go ahead and watch those funny animal, baby, or people’s videos. You know what I’m talking about, those you are embarrassed of saying you watch. Science says they can make you happier and more hopeful.
3. Practice goal planning. In 3 steps:
- Envision your goal in a way that you make it come alive. Close your eyes and visualize you achieving your goal. Engage your senses: see what you see, hear what you hear, feel what you feel in your visualization practice. Be there, live it, feel it. Then create a vision board or collage with pictures of the things you want to achieve. Look at it daily – you are reinforcing the idea in your mind. If we can think we can realize it.
- Create the pathways that will help you realize your dream. List all the milestones you need to happen to get there, then list all the steps you need to take to reach those milestones. Break them up into small steps then create a calendar of action taking.
- Plan for contingencies. Think of all of the obstacles that could come your way. Understanding, beforehand, all of the challenges you may face will help you think and plan for several possible solutions, beforehand. You will feel prepared and confident.
4. Practice gratitude. Gratitude makes us feel good and immediately improves our mood, creating positive emotions. Sit down and create a master gratitude list of everything in your life that you are grateful for: from a roof over your head to a working/healthy body, you breathing with ease, friends and family around you, clean air and clean water, electricity and technology, the sun and the rain, nature, everything and anything you can think of. (This master list can be recalled when you need a little reminder of why your life is a good life, no matter what is happening at that moment.) Then, of course, practice gratitude daily by listing 3 things you are grateful for that day. Prime your brain by reminding yourself to look for the positive, upon waking up.
5. Keep taking action and be patient. Be persistent and don’t give up, keep moving forward no matter how small the step. Have the patience to see things through to their conclusion. You will always see a change, no matter how small, if you just stick to it.
Sometimes we realize that what we really dream of just can’t happen, for instance, when you are told of a terminal illness. No matter what you think of, dream of, or do, the result will not change. When that happens, it’s time to regoal.
When I went to visit my mom, 3 weeks prior to her death, I was full of hope that I would be able to help her recover from her illness with the super awesome healthy plan of mine. However, on my first meeting with her doctor, on my first day there, I was told that there was nothing else they could do for her, for her cancer had spread too far into several organs. Removing them wasn’t possible. Quemo would only keep her asleep and sick.
Still hopeful, I told the doctor about my awesome plan to make my mom healthy again, that if we just changed her diet, it might help. She kindly told me that I should change my plans and help my mom have the best last weeks of life. Crushing, right?
And that’s exactly what I did. As painful as it was, I made sure my mom had the best 3 weeks she could have. We had her favorite foods and drinks, conversations, visitors and drive-bys. She knew what I was doing, of course, and was able to tell me how grateful she was for the change. She was tired of being the sick dying patient and was happy to be a living person. While before she was fighting to live, now she was living. I regoaled and she died happily and peacefully.
We all know tough times are going to come, and maybe you are in one right now. But hope reminds us that we should continue moving forward, despite all of the challenges, pursuing greater possibilities. That, my friend, is a powerful feeling, the most powerful of human emotions. One that keeps us moving instead of staying stuck in despair.
If you are feeling stuck and hopeless right now, know that you are not alone, all of us feel this way, time and time again. Remember that there is always a way to move forward. Bad times can’t last forever (even though it may seem like it at the time), keep moving forward, as small or as slow as you deem necessary.
Talking to a professional (u-hum, ME!) is the best way out of feeling overwhelm and stuck. I will help you tackle the very specific thoughts, feelings, and challenges in your life by providing you with the specific tools you can use to change how you think and feel and to help you take action to find hope once more. Want to learn more? Let’s chat.
As always, focusing on what matters most, let’s improve our communication and transform our interactions one conversation at a time.
With love and gratitude,
P.S.: Oh, and feel free to share this email with anyone you think could benefit from it. It’s FREE!
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