10 Ways to Encourage Your Hope

  • Practice Hope. Hope is found in stories. Read stories about hope; write stories abouthope; search for hope in all of your experiences. Apply new interpretations to old stories.Looking at your own experience from the perspective of someone who has hope for you(e.g., a grandmother or a good friend) can be very uplifting.
    The telling and retelling of our stories helps us to develop perspective and allows usthe opportunity to reinterpret them in a more compassionate way. Ask yourself what ahopeful person would do in this situation, and then try it.

  • Hope thrives in community. Isolation breeds despair. Any kind of positive groupinvolvement can help to encourage hope. Social groups, recreational groups, church groups, and support groups can all provide a forum for us to explore hope. Hope is encouraged when we realize that we are not alone, and when we are able to be honest about our own experiences with others who are respectful and listen without judgment. Strategies for dealing with problems can be shared but solutions are not a necessity. Our burdens may feel lighter simply by sharing them. When we are despairing, other community members can remember our strengths and hopes and reflect them back to us.

  • Volunteer work or service to the community helps to build hope. Discovering that we have something of value to offer to others despite our troubles can remind us of ourintrinsic worth.

  • Humor encourages hope. Whenever we can look at life and see the absurdity of it and engage with others playfully, hope is present. Humor and laughter dramatically increase a sense of well-being and provide release from despair and pain.

  • Problems and illness have a way of overshadowing all other parts of our identity. It is important to shift your focus on to who you are without your troubles.

  • In the recent film, “The Pianist”, based on the true story of Holocaust survivor Wladyslaw Szpilman, we see that his passion for music is what keeps his hope alive in the midst of unbearable suffering. What is your passion? What activities do you engage in that allow you to feel most in touch with yourself? If these are difficult to answer don’t interpret this as a sign of hopelessness. Instead, try to view it as an opportunity to explore and rediscover your interests. Try to be open to creative activities. Poetry, music, writing and the visual arts may offer a pathway back to hope.

  • Thinking positively is an essential part of the practice of hope. Psychologist Martin Seligman points out that “finding temporary and specific causes of misfortune is the art of hope.” If we see our troubles as permanent and all pervasive it contributes to a sense of helplessness and despair. All-or-nothing thinking leads to seeing troubles in this over-inclusive way and needs to be challenged whenever possible. Optimism can be learned and practiced.

  • Practice mindfulness. No matter what has happened in the past, we are always beginning anew. Remind yourself “Where there is breath there is life, and where there is life there is hope.” No matter what you are doing, try to be more emotionally present by focusing your attention on this moment. Yoga, meditation and prayer are a few of the ways one can increase mindfulness.

  • Choose your friends and caregivers with great care. Surround yourself with people who encourage your hope. Do not share your hope with people who you know will discourage or devalue it. Ask people if they will be part of your “hope team.” Seek out positive people and search for resources to assist in your learning.

  • Ronna Jevne, psychologist from Hope Foundation in Alberta proposes that just as we have a first aid kit for physical injuries, we should compile a hope kit for unexpected adversity. It should be small enough to carry and should contain reminders that encourage your hope. Collect and keep articles that can serve as tangible symbols of your hope.

  • Be aware of the power of your words. The words that we choose to describe our selves and our experiences have a real and lasting influence on how we feel. Choose them consciously and be certain to search for words that encourage hope.

Randy Haveson

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Randy Haveson
Randy Haveson is the Founder & CEO of HERO House, a sober living, recovery residence program for college students in early sobriety from addictions. Learn More

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