Life’s unexpected twists and turns have the power to make us feel discouraged at times. Everyone has some kind of expectation when it comes to their occupation, finances, love, life, personal goals, etc.
However, what happens when things don’t go the way we want them to? Well, some people can retain their faith and optimism while others may begin to feel a sense of hopelessness. Let’s be honest. No one can definitively read into the future to know what events will transpire next. The importance of hope is that it allows us to believe in something prior to seeing it manifest before our physical eyes.
You may not know that you’ll get that position you applied for at work. However, hope helps you to trust that the outcome will be in your favor. Some people have trouble doing this because they have a tendency to scrutinize every detail. Nothing is wrong with being “pragmatic”. But, we must understand that our practical understanding of things is never a definitive conclusion. It is only one perspective of many. Think about some instances where most of the “facts” showed one outcome but the outcome actually turned out much differently. If we can’t all agree on coincidences, we can at least agree that probability does influence how things occur. And, many times, our hope can be the deciding factor in how likely it is for us to succeed in life.
“If you think you are beaten, you are
If you think you dare not, you don’t,
If you like to win, but you think you can’t
It is almost certain you won’t.
If you think you’ll lose, you’re lost
For out of the world we find,
Success begins with a fellow’s will
It’s all in the state of mind.”
~Walter D. Wintle
What is Hope?
Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness. ~Desmond Tutu
Hope can be defined in a multitude of ways. However, hope is commonly known as a feeling of trust and even an expectation for something specifically desired to happen.
Hope usually deals with some degree of uncertainty. Chances may look bleak or the variable may be completely unknown. And, a person can still have hope in the desired outcome. Hope itself isn’t a good or bad thing. It is a state of mind that can be applied to any desire. There are people who hope for things only in their own self-interest. And, there are people who regard how an outcome may impact a collective group at large.
Hope is more of an attitude where faith is more of a belief. With faith, we have trust and confidence in something or someone without any basis of proof or evidence to justify that belief. One can not have hope without faith and vice versa. For instance, we can hope that tomorrow will be an amazing day filled with great opportunities. However, there is no proof of how the future will go. So, we have faith in the outcomes we desire to experience in this case.
Why is Hope Important in Life?
The characteristic of hope is a part of a larger process dealing with motivation. Hope is very important in many aspects of life. Hope can give us the motivation to keep pursuing whatever it is we want to achieve or attain. For instance, if you have hope in getting fit, then you’re more likely to work out.
Some people lose hope or desire in something they want when they aren’t seeing the results they expected to. This doesn’t just apply to getting the bodies we want, but it also applies to getting the jobs we want, partners we want, and more. Without it, life can look much darker than it is especially with all of the uncertainties of life.
Hope can mean the difference between a person just surviving and a person living their life to the fullest. Hope has the power to overcome all obstacles. When adversities arise and we find ourselves uncomfortable, hope has the power to bring us out of that hole. Hope remembers the times when we got through tough times and reassures us that we can make it through more uncertain, dark times. Hope believes in the seem-able impossible, allowing us to go after our wildest dreams.
Importance of Hope in Recovery
Optimistic outlooks help us to recover from any losses we may have suffered. Let’s say you made a bad business deal that cost you a significant amount of funds. Those who internalize their losses will feel discouraged and reluctant to make any more deals. It will take much more time to recover from this loss.
With losing anything a person cares about, they undergo the 5 stages of grief which are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. These stages don’t always unfold in order nor do everyone always experiences all 5 of these stages. It goes without saying that these stages take time to go through which directly impacts the speed at which you’re able to recover. However, when you adopt hope as an attitude and approach, you are able to overcome, recover from, and even adapt to adversity.
How to Be Hopeful
Hope tends to sound easier said than done to some. People become hopeless for many reasons including feeling uninspired, powerless, oppressed, limited, alienated, and helpless. These feelings can come from childhood trauma, adverse experiences, current conditions, etc.
Luckily, there are also ways to combat this feeling and feel hopeful about life and the world around you. The following are just a few ways you can become hopeful.
- Volunteer: If you feel like the world is a dark place, then spread your light. When we help others, we feel that we are helping make our communities a better place.
- Develop your skills: If you feel that you can’t attain a wish because you aren’t “qualified”, then do everything in your power to develop your skills. This will boost your confidence and give you more hope.
- Gratitude attitude: If it is hard for you to be hopeful, you can start off by adopting an attitude of gratitude. Look at the thing and people in your life that you appreciate. Internalize this and you will notice you’re much more grateful. When we focus on what things we don’t have, we tend to think we can’t have those things. This can create hopelessness.
- Create a vision board: Be creative and put your goals into visual form. Use pictures and colors to express your wishes, dreams, and goals. Hope can be hard to attain especially if you can’t see a way to that wish.
Mindfulness Combats Hopelessness
While you may not be able to control life or its circumstances, you can learn to control how you react to them as well as how you approach life.
As previously discussed, hope has the power to carry us through some really dark and uncertain times. We could be on the brink of achieving a goal or receiving an amazing opportunity. However, if we grow hopeless, we are more likely to give up or give in to a perceived defeat.
Think of life as mining gold. It can be a physically exalting task that renders no immediate results. The gold itself is not what makes us keep digging. It is the hope we have in acquiring that gold that we’ve worked too hard to attain. However, some may find attaining gold a much easier feat than attaining hope. The recommendations for achieving hopefulness coupled with mindfulness can help change the pessimistic attitudes some people still experience.
Some studies suggest that the average person has around 60,000 to 70,000 thoughts per day. Many of these thoughts happen to be reoccurring stressors, obligations, plans, etc. We understand that our thoughts can strongly influence how we feel and vice versa. We also know that our actions are directly influenced by what we think and feel. Thus, hopeless attitudes are very likely to make us feel as though our actions mean very little when it comes to getting what we wish. In turn, we may feel less motivated to go after what we desire. Fortunately, there are exercises one can do to help rid their mind of any pessimistic thoughts and feelings.
One of these exercises is called mindfulness meditation. It is the practice of observing thoughts feelings objectively. The following are a few simple directions to this exercise you can try at any time.
- Find a comfortable and quiet place to sit down where you will not be disturbed.
- Close your eyes gently and begin taking slow, deep breaths.
- Focus your awareness on each inhalation and exhalation.
- Thoughts will naturally surface in your mind. This is okay. Don’t judge these thoughts. Allow them to surface and observe them objectively.
- Let those thoughts go and return your awareness to your breathing.
- Anytime thoughts surface, observe them and let them go.
- Do this for 15-30 minutes.
Everyone has experienced a lack of hope at least once or twice in their lives. Hope is a necessity for living a great life as many of us face obstacles daily. Sometimes, hope is one of the only things that stand between success and failure. So, it’s great to have hope despite how things look momentarily.