Hope is seeing the last bag of blue Sunchips when all the stores around you haven’t had them for months. It brings a sparkle to your eye and a spring in your step (or, if you’re like me, lights a fire under your feet as you run to grab them fast). It also makes you go, “hmm, it eventually was here despite my catastrophic thinking that it never would be again.” A single bag of Sunchips inspiring hope may be a tiny gesture from the universe, but a gesture nonetheless.
Hope’s presence can only be genuinely felt after its absence. So, it makes excellent sense why hopelessness is identified and measured in cases of depression. Hope is a powerful feeling, a motivating factor that can alter behavior. It’s the idea that things can get better despite the worst situations. It’s present in the activities we enjoy, the people we love, and the places that beckon us to visit and revisit. Hope can be seen in nostalgic activities and those promoting mindfulness, which brings us calm or joy. But hope’s benefits aren’t just peaceful emotions; there’s so much more! So what are some standout benefits of hope?
The Benefits of Inspiring Hope
A Sense of Agency & Pathways to Your Goals
With hope, you become an expert navigator of your life, even if you sometimes struggle. While I’ll explain in more detail how to put them into practice, the power of agency and pathways to goals is undoubtedly an immense benefit of hope. In addition, hope is a significant component of motivation for behavior change.
Avoids All-or-None Thinking
Otherwise known as catastrophic thinking, all-or-none thinking is paralyzing. For anyone in school, it’s the terror of realizing you’re submitting an assignment late. So, obviously, you’ll be failing the entire class, not getting your degree, and ultimately just failing. But hope arises to say no to this style of thinking. Hope provides options and opportunities. It is grounding and realistic. Hope personified is your friend that gives insight and asks, “Is that actually what’s happening, though?”
Like its friend nostalgia, hope promotes resilience by believing that threats can be managed. And those threats can be managed because there is a point of reference that you’ve gotten through tough things before, and hopeful thinking says you can get through it again.
Helps Choose Healthier Behaviors
Hope is the conduit for chasing goals, having a plan, and executing the plan. Hope is the catalyst that creates success and love-of-your-life type opportunities. And as mentioned earlier, hopelessness is a symptom of depression. And depression can make getting out of bed difficult or just addressing basic needs. Once this starts, the momentum to get going can get increasingly difficult as the depression and behaviors feed into one another.
Hope is there for anyone to access, and with a bit of work, it can help lead to living the life people dream about. So what are some ways of inspiring hope in your life?
6 Ways of Inspiring Hope in Your Life
1. Embrace the Idea of Luck, Not Destiny
This idea is powerful because it helps me remember that the hard times I’m going through are not a reflection of my worth. I may have picked a slow-moving line in the grocery store when I’m in a rush. Instead of placing blame or feeling the dark cloud of doom, thinking that it will negatively impact the rest of my day, luck allows me to realize everyone has bad days or adverse events that come along. That doesn’t mean I deserve what is happening or that I’m destined to suffer.
2. Practice Gratitude
Gratitude is mentioned a lot in the mental health world because it works! I’ve known people who have very little and are far happier than others who have a lot. Practicing gratitude can be small, like thanking more people throughout the day, or it can be a large-scale practice incorporated into your self-care routine. Gratitude is also seen in mindfulness and nostalgia. It’s savoring the present good fortune available to you or re-experiencing moments of joy from the past while being fully present.
3. Adopt a Student Mindset in Your Life
The desire to know what a challenging situation can teach me has been a potent force in my life. Instead of operating from a place of fear, which stemmed from the insecurity that I did not possess the skills or abilities to handle difficult things, I look at all situations as if they will help me build life skills. It could be practicing patience, communicating more effectively, etc. There is value and insight to be gained through challenges.
4. Keep Your Goals in Mind
Also known as eyes on the prize! What motivates you to keep going? Where do you want to be in a year, 5 years, or 10 years? This powerful practice of hope is crucial to anyone’s well-being, and I firmly believe that while mindfulness is also essential, it can leave us short-sighted if we practice it in extremes. Whatever your goals are, it is helpful to keep them clear in your mind. They will guide you through most of life’s obstacles and keep you aligned with a purpose.
5. Develop Pathways to Your Goals
While goals are essential in inspiring hope for yourself, a plan to achieve them is just as important. When I started thinking about buying a house, it wouldn’t have been enough to just picture eventually having what I wanted. While that hope kept me saving money and toughing out professional situations, it didn’t give me a clear avenue to get there. That I needed to develop myself. And I did!
It may take extra work for a bit but ultimately will leave you with hope and resilience.
6. Maintain Motivation
This is essential for hope. Goals and pathways are a great place to start, but what will keep a person on track for their goals? A technique I find helpful in maintaining motivation is identifying the benefits of change and the costs of staying the same.
Envision your life 10 years from now. If you implement the changes you wish to, what does your life look like? What are the positive aspects of the change? After that, envision your life 10 years from now without implementing that change. Are you satisfied with what you’ve done or haven’t done? The best part about the last component of this practice is that you are the only one who can answer that question.
Final Thoughts (on Hope and Sunchips)
There is less conversation around hope, and I believe it’s because it looks a bit different for everyone, much like nostalgia. But it can change your day and, most importantly, your life! So don’t wait for inspiring hope, it’s inside of you already, and you can experience it, even if it’s in smaller doses at first.
A small dose of hope I’m looking for is another blue bag in the distance of the chip aisle at the grocery store. But, Sunchips aside, I’m hopeful my holiday season will bring me joy, connection, and slowness.
What are some things that bring you hope? Until next time, may you be safe, healthy, happy and have hope!
Thank you for this list. It is very pertinent for us mothers.
I’m glad you took something away from it! 🙂