By: James Foley
A lot of things are said about hope. We are told; where there’s life there’s hope, hope springs eternal, don’t lose hope. There is one thing we can be fairly confident of, the world believes hope is a good thing, perhaps even essential to our existence.
So there are questions to be asked:
- What is hope?
- Why is it so important?
- How do we get it and where does hope come from?
- How do we lose hope and how do we cope when that happens?
- How do we keep hopeful?
What is hope?
The Collins online dictionary states;
“Hope is a feeling of desire and expectation that things will go well in the future.”
It sounds very attractive but also very elusive. How can you define a feeling, a desire, an expectation? When we go out for a meal we have feelings, desires, expectations of what it will be like. Naturally they are all good, as why else would we go for the meal. So we are hoping to have a good meal. Surely though there is more to hope for in life than nice food. I would suggest as humans we are drawn to hope for more than just the everyday realities of life, but also for life in general.
So that brings us to, “..that things will go well in the future…”
What things, and why stop with just one or a few things. Don’t we want all our life to go well in the future?
And as for the future, is that just for tomorrow or next month? Why limit how long we want our life to go well for? Is the future limited – some say our future is eternal, it never ends.
So is hope something you want?
Why is hope so important?
Hope is the great motivator. When we start out to achieve any life goal we have hope to get there. If we did not have hopeful expectation of success we would not even try.
Hope is what gets us up off the ground when we fail. Hope helps us see that failure is not the end, that failure is a serious bump along the road to success.
Hope is what helps us accept the success we have when it is not what we initially thought would happen. Hope may bring us to a place we didn’t expect, but as we got there in good faith doing what we believed was right, we can believe that this outcome is better than what we first hoped for.
How do we get hope and where does it come from?
Is there a simpler way to say it, we choose to have hope.
No person, no event, no personal development programme can make you a hopeful person. To be hopeful is simply a purposeful choice of how you think, feel, behave and believe.
What we can do is help ourselves to make that choice.
I believe we have internal and external resources that help us to choose hope. Internal self belief and self determination are key. As we try to achieve a goal we look to our own knowledge and skill and can logically judge – yes, we can achieve this.
Some of us have a natural ability to just keep going and believing we will get there, we will succeed. Inner strength and optimism can open the door to hope.
External resources that enable us to choose hope are the people we have supporting us and our life beliefs.
The positive support of others is a big plus to get us through failure and disappointment. We possibly would lose hope without our friends.
Some people have hope for their life because of what they believe. Many believe in a God that has created them, made a plan and purpose for their life and provides a loving eternity for them. In that state of mind they believe all things work out for the greater good, always.
How do we lose hope? How do we cope when we lose hope?
Lost hope comes when we stop choosing to have hope. The choice to have hope is not a one-off decision. We have to continually choose hope. As we aim towards our life’s goals we will be drawn into doubt, fear, loss, and other emotions that will damage our belief in the hope we hold.
It is important to say we are fragile people and as such do not always have the internal resources to fall back on when our hope is threatened. Equally when life is hard we may isolate ourselves from those who could support us. Also we may lose faith in the Deity in which we believe.
Indeed it is to be expected that times of hopelessness will come. Knowing that this is only a season can in its own right help us to endure through it.
So when hopelessness comes let it run its natural course. Get help, professional help may be needed. Slow things down, give your mind, body and soul time to reconnect together so you can feel whole again. Don’t view this season as a destination but a detour from which you will return.
Sometimes we go down wrong paths only to find our way back by a different route. When you do arrive at your destination you will be richer for what you have learned along the way.
How do we keep hopeful?
Keep choosing hope. Keep believing in what you hope for to be worth the struggle to attain it.
As I end I know there are those who think hope is a silly practice of those who don’t know the realities of life.
Yes, some people are completely misguided in what they hope for. May I suggest hope that is not based on a reality is a false hope, a delusion, even a lie. These people need help.
To those who mock at appropriately hopeful, optimistic people all I can say is, I choose hope over mockery.
To not choose hope can lead one to live a life of despair.
I choose hope.