For a few years I had the privilege of living in a different country. One of the joys of living there was that we were living in a mountain town at high altitude so there was very little light pollution. When the night sky was clear we could see millions and millions of stars. It was truly breath-taking. As I looked at them, without fail, my hope would rise. When you see such beauty, it causes something to move in your soul. It wasn’t as though the stars suddenly appeared. It was just that the view had changed.
I have on many occasions sat in the optician’s chair as they have put different lenses in front of my eyes to bring clarity to my vision. The lenses sharpen my view and make it clearer. It struck me that the same is true of the lenses we bring to life. We all have a way of looking at the challenges that come our way.
What do you think keeps you going in the middle of dark times? What kept people like Nelson Mandela going in the ongoing challenge of being incarcerated for many years?
One thing that keeps me going is optimism, and optimism is fed by hope. Hope can be a general trait, but it is also fuelled by short term goals. I have found it doesn’t take much to bring hope in. A little chink of light in an otherwise dark situation can change your whole outlook. It seems that a little hope goes a long way.
To hope though is a choice; it means changing the view, changing what you focus on. There are always going to be negatives and positives to the situations that we face. However, the choice of what we focus on is ours.
“Let your hopes, not your hurts, shape your future.” – Robert H. Schuller
In a general sense there is a temptation to allow negative experience to feed the way we think about the future. But there are steps you can take that will reintroduce hope if you seem to have mislaid it of late.
First of all, we need to be grateful. Every day think about the things you are grateful for. It won’t take long for you to think of something. It doesn’t have to be massive. It could just be being grateful for the breath in your body, a friend, family member. Anything. As you focus on what you are grateful for other things will come to mind. To make it more concrete I would encourage you to write those things down. A simple daily exercise that brings a different perspective.
We all need things to look forward to. These are things you can plan in or may already be events that are coming to you like celebrations you are invited to, a coffee with a good friend, or even a vacation overseas! Remember those? Whatever it is, having things to look forward to means that we can weather what we are going through, work harder for the goal we are headed towards. Generally, the evidence is that hope brings a greater level of optimism and health into our lives.
To remind you again, to hope is a choice. Yes, people do have a natural tendency on board for hope, but as I have said a little hope goes a long way.
So, what are you going to do to change the view? Action or movement is always positive, it does something physiologically to our mind when our bodies are moving. Move towards gratitude, arrange something that you can look forward to.
Research has shown that hope increases productivity, physical health and your mental wellbeing. Something that as we begin to come out of the restrictions, forced upon us by the pandemic, we all need to be mindful of.
Make sure you do today whatever you can to feed your hope.
“Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift of God, which is why we call it the present.” Bill Keane
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