Life is full of challenges, disappointments, and failures. At times, we feel so stuck in our life situations that we feel like giving up... on our dreams, on our health, on the people in our lives, even on ourselves. But Nature didn't create us to quit. We're not meant to give up. Not without a struggle, no. And that is why we possess something called "hope".
Hope is the belief that things will fall into place, even if it doesn't seem so right now. Hope shows us a better "future", even when the "today" looks bleak. When logic screams in your head - "This will never work!"... hope whispers gently - "Anything is possible!" Hope is what keeps us going, when the going gets bad. Hope is that state of mind that allows us to believe that things will change for good.
10 Documented Effects and Benefits of Hope
- reduces anxiety and depression
- brings about positivity and optimism
- induces a greater sense of meaning in life
- increases productivity and makes you persistent
- enhances self-esteem and builds self confidence
- leads to physical, emotional, and financial well-being
- promotes healthy living and increases longevity
- makes you more tolerant, inspired and grateful
- improves your relationships and social life
- helps in easier and quicker recovery from illness
So if hope is so beneficial and is supposed to be a "natural" mental state for us, how come so many of us end up without it?
Psychologist Charles Richard Snyder states - "hope is a process of goal-directed thoughts that reflects both - the belief that one can find pathways to the goal, and has motivation based on one’s perceived capabilities or thinking."
Snyder postulated that hope requires the following 3 thought components:
- Goals – Clearly defined, meaningful objectives, that give you a sense of PURPOSE in life.
- Agency – The sense of empowerment, that you have what it takes, to facilitate CHANGE in your life conditions.
- Pathways – The knowledge that you are capable of figuring out MULTIPLE channels/routes to achieve your goals.
so how exactly do these three things add up to form hope?
Snyder's Hope Postulates (Requirements for Hope):
Human beings are dreamers. We dream, and then we work to make those dreams come true. And when we achieve them, we weave some more dreams. It is what we live for. It is what makes us jump out of our beds every morning. And look forward to the day in hand. But sometimes, our dreams get broken, leaving us without anything to aspire for. And sometimes, they can be so brutally trampled upon by other people that we might even become too scared to dream again!
Not knowing where you want to go or what you want to do in your life can easily suck you into feelings of despair. You lose your sense of purpose in life. You don't know what you're here for. You have no reason to get out of bed every morning. Or get out of your pajamas into something nicer. Or get a haircut. Or go out and meet people. Or cook.
You don't feel like you're adding any value to the world in any way. You are merely... existing. You try to picture yourself 5 years into the future, and you see yourself exactly where you are right now, doing the exact same things. You're stuck here, in this very spot, for the rest of your life. You cannot move, well... because you DON'T KNOW where to go! That's when you start questioning your very existence. "Why am I even still alive?"
Dreams are important. In order to have hope, we need to have realistic goals in life. Always. No matter how badly we failed in the past, or how much it hurt in the past.
Human beings need to feel empowered. We need to be able to believe that we have some amount of control over our lives, that we CAN affect change when required. Feelings of "helplessness" can very easily turn into "hopelessness".
This is probably where most of us get stuck. We grow up in such critical environments that many of us aren't even aware of our own capabilities. Oh we all know what we're bad at... we keep hearing it so often, both from others as well as our own inner critic... but what we're GOOD at is something that we're never quite confident of!
In order to have hope, we need to be able to recognize our own strengths and skills. What are you good at? What can you do? What do you know? How can your specific skill-set help you realize your goals? If we have conviction in our abilities, and believe that we can reach our goals, we will never despair.
And for that, we need to learn to DISREGARD the negativity in our lives. (Covered under 'D'.) We need to allow only those people in our lives who are appreciative of us, who help us see how wonderful and amazing we are. We need to network with people who BELIEVE in us, so that OUR belief becomes strong. (Covered under 'B'.) And we need to keep doing more of what we know we're good at.
We've all heard of the saying, "Do not keep all your eggs in one basket", haven't we? Well... Snyder's "Pathways" are our multiple "baskets" of hope. Even if we drop one basket, we still have other ways to get to our destination. And all it requires is a little bit of proactive thinking.
You need to prepare for multiple options/ways of reaching your goals. (Plan A, Plan B, Plan C... the more the merrier!) Some of those options may be less desirable than the others, but the fact that they ARE there, in case you need them, provides a higher probability of reaching your goals. The knowledge, that you have multiple cushions to fall back upon, automatically makes you more optimistic of achieving your goals.
So invest in the diverse... be it your financial portfolio, or your relationships, or your skills. EXPLORE new possibilities and ideas. (Covered under 'E'.) Take up new challenges and hobbies. Learn new skills. Work on your imperfections and limitations. Interact with new people. Always keep striving towards creating new channels and pathways towards your goals. (See... that, in itself, can be a goal to wake up for!)
People without hope are not just unhappy, they are depressed. They are stuck in a tunnel with NO LIGHT at the end. They are the ones who flush their medicines down the toilet and put a knife to their wrist, or a rope around their neck. They hide in their "cave" and refuse to come out.
I am no psychologist. And I'd never heard of Snyder or his 3 postulates until yesterday (when I started doing research for this post). But I DO know what living without hope means. And I know that Snyder's theory is correct. I had to work upon all 3 of these to come out of that mental state. And I wish now that somebody had told me about them back then. Maybe my phase of "despair" wouldn't have lasted for so long.
Today, I'm only going to ask you ONE question at the end of this post. Do you know of anyone who might be exhibiting signs of such acute despair... or depression? If yes, then PLEASE share this article with him/her. Just knowing that they're not losing their mind, and that there actually IS a step-by-step method they can follow, to restore positivity and meaning in their life, will give them the hope they so badly need. Thank you.
This is my eighth post for AtoZ2017.
I have completed this challenge once before, and published it as a kindle ebook.
You can get it on amazon: A to Z of Blogging: Take Your Blog To the Next Level.
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