A four-letter word that can feel so elusive. String a couple of disasters together and the last thing on your mind is the possibility that it is not as bad as it looks.
But there is always hope. Even when it does not feel like it. Every new moment, every new day promises happier times, a different possibility or a new chance to try again.
It is not always easy to remember that.
When life happens and bad experiences find us, it is hard to imagine that the way we think matters. We are reacting to what is happening around us in the most natural and human way. We respond to the curveballs of life with emotions of despair, anger, worry or stress and before we know it our days are filled dealing with anxiety. Moment after moment. A vicious circle of trying to survive our lives, one blurring day to the next that sooner or later starts to catch up with us.
Studies from The Human Journey – a project of the Institute for the study of human knowledge, show that positive and negative moods influence physical health and longevity independently. Mounting evidence demonstrates that happiness, pleasure, joy, optimism, excitement and sense of humour each have positive biological and physiological effects. So, while counteracting chronic stress and reducing negativity is important, another key to better health is finding happiness.
People who report that they are very happy (with less negative and more positive emotion and optimism) live 4 to 10 years longer than unhappy individuals. More so, those extra years are also lived healthier. Further, people who express positive emotions like joy, cheerfulness, and enthusiasm are 22 percent less likely to develop heart disease than those who don’t. In fact, in a study of nearly 100,000 women, optimists were 30 percent less likely to die from coronary heart disease than pessimists. According to the study, happiness, even expressed in a given day, is a statistical predictor of health.
But what is hope?
According to Miriam Webster, the word hope is “to want something to happen or be true and think that it could happen or be true” or in a fuller definition it states that hope is “to cherish a desire with anticipation: to want something to happen or be true”
Or as the famous Archbishop Desmond Tutu once said:
Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.
It is important to believe in this light when it is dark and we are in despair. It is good for our health and our overall experience of life. We can go through a day worrying, being stressed and depressed and feeling deflated, or we can have hope that it will get better and therefore have a brighter day filled with anticipation, feeling more confident and happier. A decision that is entirely ours to make.
Hope inspires and lifts us up
Think about it:
- Hope motivates us to try again and because of our belief for a better tomorrow we are more prepared to keep on striving, working and trying – or we can stay worried and stressed and not do much else. Fear can be immobilising.
- Hope combats negative thoughts as it is downright impossible to have optimistic and negative thoughts at the same time. Your mind can only focus on one of the two, so why choose worry?
- Being hopeful feels better, it lifts our mood and makes everything just so much more bearable. It is contagious too. No one likes to listen to repeated stories of anguish but if you are hopeful, chances are you are inspiring someone else who might just need a dose of optimism too!
A couple of pretty good reasons to hold onto hope don’t you think!
I overheard a sentence in a movie once. It was from the “Hunger Games” and I was astonished as I did not think about the power of hope in his way before!
According to President Snow in the Hunger Games, hope is the only thing stronger than fear. A little hope is effective, a lot of hope is dangerous,” Snow declares. “Spark is fine, as long as it’s contained,” he said.
So in the Hunger Games, to ensure defeat or death, people needed to be stripped of hope, the most dangerous defence of all. As President Snow said, a spark of hope can easily be distinguished. We therefore need to be powerfully hopeful, not just a little bit!
Hope is more powerful than fear!
Remember that adversity will always cross our paths but hope is available to everyone. Hope is the greatest weapon of all. Carry your weapon of hope everywhere you go and watch how the world around you respond. Why not, life can change in a moment. Tomorrow might be that day!
Hope is a string of light-reflecting crystals that illuminates a room
It is a breath of fresh air where before there was only despair
Hope is a gasp of relief where anxiety and chaos rule
It is still and soft, quiet and bright to recharge the mind, body and soul
Remind the heart that hope is always within reach
Because dreams of tomorrow can light the way today