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How to Create a More Hopeful Life

How to Create a More Hopeful Life

When we hear about crimes, failures of governments and other institutions, public or private, it is our hope that takes a hit. Hope is a necessity. It is our emotional engine, the basis for engaging with life.

How do we get and navigate this important human need?

What Is Hope?

Hope is directly related to our sense of possibility. The greater our perception of possibilities, the greater our hope. The most constricted view of possibility, of course, is hopelessness or despair.

Hope is not the same as happiness or optimism. It is what we feel when we think that life is worth living, that our work is worth doing. Hope is what we have when we have a positive relationship with our existence. It is the deepest of the three emotions. Happiness and optimism cannot exist without hope, but hope can exist without happiness or optimism.

Hope answers the question, “Why bother?”

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Hope Affects Our Minds And Bodies

Doctors know that hope affects our ability to heal. Hopeful patients have higher levels of dopamine, endorphins and other neurochemicals which promote wellbeing and the energy for living.

Hope is our energy, our fuel for living, so people will go to great lengths to create it and protect it. Without it you lack energy to engage with life. Hope is so essential that a negative childhood can reduce the brain’s ability to create dopamine which may lead to addiction because drugs increase dopamine levels in people who do not have the ability to create it naturally.

Why Does Hope Make Such A Difference?

Hope has to be real. It has to be based on something tangible. We can fake optimism and pretend to be happy but deep down inside, we know whether or not we have hope. We cannot really be fooled.

When we are sizing up our hopes we are essentially taking an existential account of where we are.  It is an assessment of our ability to survive now and into the future. Our assessment tells us where to put our energies and our time. Hope is the serious emotion.

Hope recognizes our interdependency with our families, culture, society and our environment. So a genius in a war torn country probably is less hopeful that an average person in a peaceful place.

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When hope is damaged it affects more than one person. When real hope is denied it is hard to replace. When a person has lost hope it can be hard to find motivation again. The most important impact we have on each other is through how we affect each other’s hopes. One of the silliest things we can do is destroy another’s hopes because then there is less room for our own. Hope breeds hope.

What Does Hope Look Like?

    When hope exists we engage with our environment more. We give more of ourselves to what we do – as does everyone else around us. Hope engages our creativity and our problem solving skills. It is a factor in our ability to appreciate ourselves and others and our ability to be grateful for our lives.

    What is wonderful about hope is that it is not pollyannish. Hope has a roll up your sleeves and get to work quality. It gets its hands dirty in the business of creating our lives. It values all of the details, skills and challenges that go into creating our world.

    Hope requires a willingness to experiment to see what works and what doesn’t so it cannot see failure, only steps on a learning path. It does not fall for false optimism or empty promises. Living hopefully simply means taking care of your contribution and supporting the positive evolution of human life. It’s motto is “Progress, not perfection.”

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    Hope is grounded in present reality. It does not sugarcoat. It thinks enough of our creativity to present us with real problems to solve not phony problems of overindulgence, status and social climbing – real problems like quality of life, the development of human potential, the well being of our environment and all human  living systems.

    Hope is serious about life. It is our link to each other, the past and the future. It enables us to respect the efforts of our ancestors even as we decide not to repeat their mistakes. It respects the needs of other living creatures and future needs as well. It is the “something larger than ourselves” that we are all a part of.

    Hopeful Living

    Living a hopeful life is to recognize that everything and everyone matters. That includes you since you are part of the hopefulness in the world. Taking care of yourself matters. The quality of the work you do matters. It matters how you are treated and how you treat others.

    In order to be an effective part of a hopeful world there are certain things that you need to do regularly:

    • conduct a hope audit of your life. How are you doing? in health, work, relationships?
    • take good care of your health.
    • have a stress reduction strategy. Meditation, breathing exercises, physical exercise and favorite forms of recreation all reduce stress. Being in nature does as well.
    • create hopeful relationships. Learn to forgive. Develop a daily journal writing habit if it helps you to let go of negative experiences and emotions.
    • help others see the best in themselves, notice their desire to make meaningful contributions and help them find their path to becoming hopemakers for themselves and others.

    Being In Hope With Others

    The easiest way to control others is to destroy people’s hope. Hope is so important that totalitarian regimes will go to great lengths to control or destroy it. Divide and conquer is an old social control mechanism. It creates fear instead of hope. So when we level the playing field, or bring down barriers, we are inevitably increasing hopefulness by reducing obstacles to it.

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    The human race is like one giant disco ball. Each one of us is a small mirror of talents, love and joy that we have to offer each other to create our world. So hope is energy – your positive energy, your talents, value and your soul. It is the lifeblood of the human race.

    The easiest way to support a hopeful world  is to support hope in others and ask that others do the same for you. If you surround yourself with people invested in creating a hopeful world with you, then you are fortunate. However, not everyone will necessarily have a hopeful outlook. You can still support hope in someone else’s life whether they are able to value it or not. Helping to restore hope when it has been lost is a noble thing to do.

    Look for ways to make hopefulness tangible. Don’t let it be just something for the future. Hope is all of the little things we do each day to make our lives. Everything you do contributes to hopeful living or takes away from it.

    That may seem heavy.  But hope is that important. It needs to be treasured.

    Photo credits: Freedom via Shutterstock)

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    Last Updated on August 20, 2018

    35 Anniversary Ideas to Bring You Closer Together

    35 Anniversary Ideas to Bring You Closer Together

    Every mature relationship has had a less-than-memorable anniversary. Maybe one of you forgot, or both of you got busy with work, kids, family issues, or something else. Whatever happened, the day came and went without fanfare. And neither of you seemed to notice or much care.

    But for the health of any relationship, it’s important to make important days feel special. Anniversaries offer the wonderful opportunity to relive beautiful memories, practice gratefulness for your partner, and to show your love and strengthen your bond. Make this year’s anniversary with your significant other something special  — one that will bring you closer together.

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    The best way to create a memorable anniversary is to do something new and different together as a couple. Stretch yourselves a bit.

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    While boredom can silently kill a relationship, new experiences reinforce the shared bond you already have and create strong new memories. Just think back to the most significant memories you have right now with your spouse and imagine what new ones you can create!

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    While you enjoy your chosen anniversary activity, be sure to keep a positive attitude and make your partner happy too on that day. Leave all arguments and day to day detail behind. Just celebrate your relationship. Whether you’re going to spend the day together at home, getting away, or having a wild and crazy new experience together, you can have your best anniversary yet!

    If You’re Staying In

    1. Spend an evening with no technology, just the two of you and maybe a board game. It’s hard to keep ourselves away from our computers and smartphones long enough to have a meaningful conversation. Make a rule not to use your tech and you’ll rekindle your relationship!
    2. Make wine or beer together. If you enjoy drinking together, this is a fun activity to try together. Just remember to buy the necessary equipment ahead of time.
    3. Learn something new about each other. With an open mind, try asking some of the New York Times’ 36 questions that lead to love. They’ll help spark intimacy and will lead to some really honest moments.
    4. Have a lazy day. Breakfasts in bed, spend all day in bed talking and napping. Follow breakfast with champagne and dessert! If you feel like getting more active, cook together or play some games. Here’re some simple breakfast ideas for you.
      • Learn to dance at home. This is best for those active couples who work out together and also enjoy learning something new together. Just go on Youtube to find any music with dance tutorials and learn together.
      • Visit model homes or open houses and plan your dream home.
      • Have a special dessert – champagne and chocolate covered strawberries. Having an unusual treat makes a day feel extra special. If you want to make the dessert really special, try these tasty dessert recipes.
      • Create a playlist of your favorite songs as a couple. Choose songs that tell your story, and songs that you bonded over throughout your relationships. Here’re some love songs ideas for your inspirations.
        • Write your love story. Write it together or ave each of you write your own and then bring them together in an interesting, both sides of the story format.
        • Get a fondue pot. Fondue is a fun way to enjoy melted cheeses (for savory items) and melted chocolate (for sweeter treats).
        • Decorate! Turn your home into a dressed-up french cottage, a sophisticated restaurant, or simply with flowers. The different ambience will immediately change the feel of your home and make it feel like a staycation.
          • Talk about the future together. It might sound simple and everyday, but imagining how you want to spend your retirement together, or planning future trips can be exciting and romantic.

          If You Want to Get Away

          1. Take a day trip together to your favorite spot. If you live in a city, it can be incredibly refreshing to get away for an afternoon and drink in the outdoors.
          2. Go on a scenic drive and stop at a wine and cheese bar. Or, if you’re lucky enough to have lots of options where you live, try a brewpub. There are tons of small craft breweries with fantastic food options too.
          3. Go camping. Relatively affordable and, if the weather’s right, beautiful and romantic.
            • Take an overnight backpacking trip. For the more adventurous couples, backpacking is an even more intense way to challenge yourself physically while becoming one with nature.
            • Take a wine tasting tour. If you live on the West Coast or in the Northeast, take a drive to the nearest winery. Many offer relatively inexpensive tastings and deals if you purchase a certain amount.
            • Take a scenic train trip. Taking the train means less stress traveling: nobody has to drive, you don’t have to stop for breaks every few hours, and you can sleep if you need to!
            • Save up for a destination vacation. What better time than your anniversary to enjoy the beach at a beautiful resort?
            • Explore a new city. Whether you’re on a budget or have a lot saved up, you can have a great time just exploring an unfamiliar town.
            • Rent a cabin for a weekend away, in the woods or next to a lake or ocean. If you like the outdoors but can only take so much nature, try glamping.
              • Go on a retreat. Yoga retreats, meditation retreats, beautiful natural surroundings … they’re all the rage. Search for centeredness and calm with your partner.
              • Spend a day at a food festival. Many cities have fun and affordable food festivals, occasionally based on a theme. Check out your town’s (or a nearby city) calendar for inspiration!

              New & Exciting Experiences

              1. Go spelunking. Dark, damp, and utterly exciting!
              2. Go on a hot air balloon ride. Because the basket is relatively small, this can be a romantic and deeply personal – and yet thrilling –
                experience.
                • Try sky diving. If you and you S.O. are real thrill-seekers, sky diving can really push you to the edge!
                • Explore the underwater world by snorkeling or scuba diving. This may take you far away from where you normally live and work, which is an added bonus.
                • Experience white water rafting.
                • Drive or hike to the highest spot nearby for a new view of the world. America has tons of beautiful mountains where challenging hikes (or drives) can deliver breathtaking views.
                • Take a craft or cooking class. Up your craft skills or food  making skills, and enjoy something new!
                  • Take a wine and painting class today. These classes are easily found these days and even a beginning painter can create a nice painting. Challenging but relaxing, fun, and you get to go home with some artwork!
                  • Learn to salsa dance. Dancing is a fantastic way to actively get closer and coordinate physically with one another.
                    • Visit a nearby festival you’ve always wanted to go to. Have fun and let go with fellow audience-members!
                    • Spend the day at an amusement park together. Laugh and carry on like teenagers.
                    • Meet new people! At a restaurant, concert, or class, make it a point to meet new friends. Striking up conversation with someone you don’t know – but with whom you have shared interests – can be an adventurous and rewarding experience.

                    Whether your budget is big or small, and whether you have a little or a ton of time together, focus on each other. There are tons of options, in terms of location, level of physical activity, and cost. You can make the day special in a way that’s right for you!

                    Featured photo credit: Photo by Taylor L. Spurgeon on Unsplash via unsplash.com

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