Cultivate Hope

Written by Violaine Guéritault, Ph.D.

It is said that, “where there is life, there is hope.” Such an accurate quote. Whereas most positive emotions will arise when we tend to feel safe, hope will actually show up when challenging events, uncertainty, and unpredictability strike. Contrary to what we may think, hope does not involve adopting a passive stance in the face of adversity, but instead taking a very active one, indeed. It implies having specific goals and a strong desire and plan to reach them. Hope is a powerful antidote against despair because it helps you focus on the energy you need to cope with life’s challenges, and thus create the best possible life for yourself and others.

We all know how life can be challenging at times, so challenging indeed that we need to go very deep inside of us to find the strength we need to get us through those times of darkness and uncertainty. In those moments, it can be tempting to just curl up in a ball under the covers, cry, and feel sorry for ourselves. But how is that going to help? It certainly will not give us the strength we need to get through hard times. Strength is born of a whole different kind of attitude such as that of being hopeful. Hope allows us to project ourselves in the future in a positive manner so we can envision our life once the storm has passed. Hope is the very foundation of our survival in times of hardship. It helps us not fall into unhealthy ways of coping and gives us the inner resources to progress rather than regress.

Simple ways to cultivate it!
Practice mindfulness & meditation.

In times of hardship and uncertainty, our brain generates all kinds of questions and worries. We can easily be overwhelmed with a multitude of why? how? what? and when? questions that make us feel stuck in our heads and rob us of our serenity and inner peace. Moreover, it makes it very hard for us to find a way out of difficult times when our mind feels that chaotic. Mindfulness and the practice of meditation are incredible tools that allow the mind to take a pause, calm down and return to the present moment. Meditation has this amazing capacity to quiet the mind and tame our thoughts so we can slow down, relax and maintain a sense of calm. When calmness is restored, it becomes a lot easier to think clearly and efficiently about potential solutions to the problems we are facing. This gives us the sense of hope we need to find the strength to overcome the adversity we may encounter.

Spend your time and energy on the things you can change.

Like the rest of us, you probably wish you had control over your life and its circumstances, especially when you’re facing challenging times. Unfortunately, life doesn’t work that way. Recognizing and, most importantly, accepting that many things are out of your control can help you gain a sense of peace because this kind of awareness will help you focus on the essential – what you can actually change as opposed to what you cannot change. There are plenty of things you can change and that will uplift you, make you feel more positive and give you a sense of hope in which you will tap to build the strength you need to cope with hardships.

Among the things you can change is how well you take care of yourself physically and emotionally, how healthy your diet is (healthy food will give you strength and will boost your energy), how well you take care of your mind with healthy practices such as mindfulness and meditation. By focusing on what you can change, you can change how you choose to overcome adversity.

Seek good company.

Seek the company of people who make you feel good and who empower you. Stay closely connected to and engaged with the people whose company uplifts you and makes you feel you can tackle the difficulties that may come your way. Whether those people are close friends or family members, try to spend as much time with them as possible even if you don’t really feel like to. When going through hard times, you may have the tendency to withdraw, isolate and even push people away. You must become aware of that tendency, resist it and fight it. The more isolated you are, the more helpless and “hope-less” you might feel. For hope to grow and give you the strength and resilience you need to overcome obstacles you may encounter, you have to make an effort and reach out to the people you care about and who will be there to love you and support you.