Can you imagine a life completely without hope? I doubt many of us could. But what exactly is hope, and from where does it come? Without hope, life would be well, hopeless. What is hopelessness, and from where does it come? Let's examine what it means to have hope and how to build hope if you lack it.
Contrasting hope and hopelessness
As we begin, let's look at some ways in which hope and hopelessness contrast one another.
- When you have hope, you can feel strong and full of possibility. Hopelessness can make you feel weak and void of opportunity.
- Hope is positive and uplifting. Hopelessness is negative and can make you feel downtrodden.
- Hope provides happiness and joy. Hopelessness can make one sad and miserable.
- With hope, you look forward to something. Hopelessness often brings dread.
"Hope is the best possession. None are completely wretched but those who are without hope. Few are reduced so low as that." William Hazlitt (1778-1830)
Hope is an essential part of living a forward-looking life, into something positive or good that will happen or come to you. When you have hope based on reality, you can have an expectation and hold an intention that what is created will add to your life or the life of others.
A word of caution about hope: we must be wary of holding out false hope. Hope should be based in reality whenever possible. False hope will let you down and can often lead to hopelessness.
For example, When you hope for that promotion at work, so long as it is reality-based, there is a strong possibility it will happen.
Or when you meet that special someone you want to spend the rest of your life with, so long as the hope is reality-based, there is a strong likelihood it will happen.
In either of these examples, if the hope is not based in reality, it can lead to hopelessness. It's always best to keep it real.
Hope has much to do with possibility. With hope, whatever you hope in is possible. Whether it is that promotion or the hand of someone in marriage, the possibility exists, and the chance of obtaining it is excellent.
"Once you choose hope, anything's possible." Christopher Reeve (1952-2004)
One of the most wonderful things about hope is how it can influence others. When you have hope, you can give hope to others, lifting them up. Because of your hope, you can more easily inspire others to have more hope in their lives.
Did you know hope has very positive health benefits? Yes, it can positively impact both your mental and physical health. Hope helps us view life in a positive way, improving our attitude, and lifting our wellbeing.
Think about some of the hopes you have in life. Take some time to list them. I find it valuable to record my hopes and dreams in my journal regularly. Try it, and you too can benefit from having a better view of your life and future and enjoy the uplifting experience it provides.
"What oxygen is to the lungs, such is hope to the meaning of life." Emil Brunner (1889-1966)
What causes hopelessness in someone's life? It can be something you are going through at the time, which is likely temporary. Something you will lift yourself out of. This is the type of issue we can do something about on our own or with other people's help.
Hopelessness can also be a medical issue such as depression, chronic anxiety, posttraumatic stress, substance dependency, and other such things. If you suffer from any of these or have feelings of hopelessness over many days, please seek medical help. It is nothing to be ashamed of, and the medical profession has an excellent track record in helping people deal with such things.
Outside of those who may wish to seek medical help, there are several things you can do to overcome hopelessness. If hopelessness has come on you suddenly by something such as a job loss, financial problems, relationship issues, a temporary failure, or other such things, consider the following:
- Give it some time. Think about situations in your past that you overcame. Talk to someone who has overcome a similar situation.
- Focus on the solution, not the problem. The problem has already happened; now it's time to move forward, not get stuck in the past.
- Find someone you can trust to discuss the subject about which you feel hopeless. You will often get relief by simply airing it out.
- If you are a Christian, seek the help of your pastor or a fellow Christian and God's Word, the Bible.
- Volunteer or assist someone who needs help. There is always someone worse off that can use assistance in some way. At the very least, a word of encouragement given at the right time can help people tremendously.
- Journal. You will be amazed at how helpful it can be to write your thoughts and what is on your heart in your private journal. Make this a habit, and you will find much reward in it.
This short list is only a few ways you can attempt to overcome helplessness. What would you add? I would love to hear from you.
"There are no hopeless situations; there are only men who have grown hopeless about them." Clare Boothe Luce (1903-1987)
Hope is one of the most wonderful things in life when you have it. Hope provides a bright and positive outlook. The hope you possess can affect others in a good way, especially those close to you.
For the most part, we tend to get what we look for in life when it comes to hope. You can always hope for more, hope for a better outcome, hope for a better future. You can even have hope in hope itself, as hope is always around the corner for those who look for it!
"Hope sees the invisible, feels the intangible, and achieves the impossible." Helen Keller (1880-1968)
May you be filled with hope and the wonderful things it brings to life!