Finding Hope: Part Two
Today, many are concerned that will bring more divide to a country that is already divided. Others feel that today is a day that will change the direction our country is going in. And the rest are prepared to sit back and wait for the results to be finalized.
The increased stress I am hearing with my clients is at a level that I have not heard before in all the years that I have been practicing. But at the end of the day, we all have one voice to use, and the rest is out of our control.
Which brings us back to our discussion on hope. Yesterday we defined what hope is, as well as what hope is not. We also explored the significance of hope and why it is so important.
My three key points were:
- The world is turned upside down, but there are still reasons to have grounded hope.
- You can achieve your realistic goals and dreams – no matter what life has thrown at you so far.
- You can be realistic and have hope at the same time.
Today we will conclude the two-part blog on hope by talking about the benefits of hope and how you can cultivate more hope in your life – no matter what is going on.
So, what are the benefits of hope?
Studies have shown the benefits of hope include the following:
- Being more positive.
- Better health and an improved immune system.
- Better emotional control.
- Less stress and anxiety. Anxiety comes when you negatively imagine your future. Feeling hopeful creates positive thoughts and images about the future. This naturally lowers stress and anxiety.
- Higher levels of self-esteem and self-worth.
- Better social life and relationships because you are more fun to be with.
- Being more creative, productive, and better at your work.
The impact may not occur immediately, but over time you will be able to see the positive aspects of reframing the situation to find the silver lining.
When you are feeling overwhelmed, anxious, and confused about what your next steps are, how can you develop hope?
1. Do something that excites you. Write a bucket list for the rest of 2020!
Do you have a bucket list? A written out, concrete bucket list? I have a client who created her bucket list in a spreadsheet and color-coded it! Be creative with your list. It should have tasks that you could complete this weekend if you would like and tasks that will take some planning. For example, my bucket list has learning to eat with chopsticks and going to Greece. Melissa humor: five years later, I can still not eat with chopsticks, but three years ago, I went to Greece! Your list does not have to be too elaborate, detailed, or pricey. It just has to include small adventures that make you smile, add some hope to your week. Let me know what adventure on your list are you most excited about!
2. Surround yourself with hopeful people. If you cannot find anyone positive, make sure they are not energy drainers!
When you surround yourself with hopeful, positive people, it will rub off on you, and you’ll learn what they do to be more optimistic. When you surround yourself with energy drainers that focus on the negative, you will begin to absorb the negativity whether you want to or not.
This applies to the people you surround yourself with, but also social media. Yep – I just said that. You could have the most positive people in your life but spend hours on social media absorbing all that your feed posts. Social media is fabulous, and I use many forms of social media to normalize what people are feeling. But outside of some Pinterest deep dives, I try to limit my mindless scrolling to avoid the negativity. Maybe it is time to try a 30-day social media fast?
3. Remember times when things went well.
There were indeed times in your life when you achieved something extraordinary, something that you didn’t hope or believe you could. Notice those times. What are they for you? Perhaps it was getting a particular job, maybe your first job. Maybe it was a change of career or finding your soulmate and getting married. There are lots of things you achieved in life. Go back and look at them. It will help you feel more hopeful about your current challenges and the future.
4. Set goals and create a plan.
The act of setting goals and creating a plan will increase your level of hope because you are doing something about it. Now let’s talk about what a realistic plan looks like. One of my clients really embraced creating a plan and had her whole life planned. How well do you feel that worked for her? Not so fabulous! We created a Viola View (*not her real first name) that kept her focused on a six-month window. A plan that allowed her to look to the future, but not too far in the future that she had unrealistic expectations. Right now, planning for six months is tricky. Right now, I am choosing to focus on one month at a time.
Too much is changing to plan any further (in my opinion).
5. Have a gratitude list.
List everything that you’re grateful for. List what is going well in your life each day. Even if all you can think of is that you woke up. There are many gratitude journals that you can check out and creative options online to try. One thing you are grateful for each day. All in one place so that you can look back on it and remember that it is still good in your world.
6. Keep taking action and be patient. In Greek, HOPE is defined as BE STILL.
Be persistent and don’t give up. Have the patience to see things through to the end. I was telling my grad class this week that life is very similar to a roller coaster. I am a massive fan of the craziest coasters that I can find. No matter how much I love them, there is a sense of anticipation as we climb the hill, and I am checking to make sure my safety belt indeed is locked in place. But no matter how insane the ride is, there is always an end. The ride will stop, and you will be able to exit the adventure.
Patience is sometimes like a colossal coaster. Sometimes you have to hold on and be still until you can exit into the next adventure.
7. Research other people that have overcome similar adversities.
Some people have already overcome the challenges you are experiencing right now. See how they developed their hope and what they did to improve their life.
Seeing other people already achieving what you want to achieve will dramatically increase your level of hope. You may also learn some actionable steps that you can do to change your life situation.
Will it take work? Absolutely. Will you want to give up and exit the ride? I guarantee that you will. More than once. But will it be worth it in the end? Yes, it will.
Hope does not change the circumstances of your life right now. However, worry does not change the circumstances either. Your glasses do not have to be ‘rose-colored,’ but perhaps your lens needs to be changed. What do you have to lose?
No matter what happens today, we will continue to be resilient.
We will continue to thrive, and I hope you continue to Dream Big.
It is ok not to feel comfortable right now as the world does not make sense. But you can still have hope that tomorrow will be better.
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As I have stated previously, being known for who you uniquely are at the core is a freeing experience. One that will take bravery and vulnerability, but one that can be achieved.
Always remember to take care of you. You are worth it!