Finding Hope in This Difficult Life

Bill Abbate

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Do you ever have a day where you feel you are swimming upstream, straining, and struggling against the current? One of those days where you expend so much energy, you collapse, totally exhausted. Why does life have to be so difficult at times?

The longer you live, the more you realize life is not always pleasant and easy. As the old saying goes, life is not all peaches and cream. Everyone experiences difficulties at various times, so why should we expect less?

But, you say, I only think positive and good thoughts. I focus my energy on attracting good and positive things into my life. Many of us think that way, but it does not change the reality that life is far more complex, and everything is not in our control.

Let's get real for a moment. Have you ever known anyone who had a perfect life? Do you know a single person who hasn't had difficulties and struggles?

Such is every life

Up to this point, we could be talking about anyone's life. This is the reality of every living, breathing, thinking human being that has ever existed.

The longer you live, the more you understand there will be good and not-so-good times in life. So long as we walk this earth, we will face difficulties. We will suffer loss, heartbreak, pain, sickness, disease, and death. Facing this reality will put you on one of two paths in the future.

"We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope." Martin Luther King, Jr.(1929-1968)

One path is the path of hope, and the other is that of hopelessness. These two paths run alongside each other throughout our life. Some of us will wander from one path to the other at different times during our existence.

Is it any wonder Solomon, the wisest man to ever live, stated three millennia ago:

"' Everything is meaningless,' says the Teacher, 'completely meaningless!'" Solomon (970-931 BC)

But not all hope is lost! Let me encourage you - hang in there!

Contrasting and comparing

Without the bad in life, how would we ever know what was good? A great deal of what we learn about life comes through our ability to contrast and compare. To truly understand both sides of most things, we must see their opposite or contrast. To understand it further, we need to be able to compare it with something else. Let's contrast and compare one of the most powerful and meaningful words in the English language – hope.

Some may think comparing and contrasting are similar, but they are not. According to the Oxford Dictionary, their definitions are:

Contrast (noun) - the state of being strikingly different from something else in juxtaposition or close association.

Compare (verb) - estimate, measure, or note the similarity or dissimilarity between.

By contrasting hope with hopelessness, we gain greater insight into each. You can think of hope as light and hopelessness as darkness. Neither is complete, nor could we comprehend one without the other. It is because of hope we understand hopelessness. And it is because of hopelessness that hope makes sense.

To what can hope be compared? Many compare it to dreams, longings, expectations, aspirations, and desires, among other things. Likewise, we often compare hopelessness to such things as discouragement, anguish, desperation, despondency, misery, and sorrow.

"Hope is passion for what is possible." Soren Kierkegaard (1813-1855)

As stated, few words convey as much power and meaning as does hope. Those who possess hope push through the mess that is this life. They keep swimming upstream despite the current or obstacles. They have faith that they will reach where they desire to go and never give up trying.

"[Life] is like a man [swimming] upstream. He has no choice; he must go ahead or he will go back." Lewis E. Pierson (1870-1954)

Building hope

Building hope in your life takes more than sheer willpower. It takes faith to achieve what you want in life and tenacity to keep swimming upstream regardless of what lies ahead.

"Hope has two beautiful daughters; their names are Anger and Courage. Anger at the way things are, and Courage to see that they do not remain as they are." Saint Augustine (354-430)

To build hope, you must only convince yourself you can do it, whatever "it" is. How can you convince yourself, you ask? That is the key, isn't it? Sure, things like a positive, can-do attitude can help. Reading all the self-help literature you can find while surrounding yourself with like-minded people may help. But can you do more?

For some of us, it takes slowing down and looking deep inside ourselves. Until we find a reason why we should continue swimming upstream despite the odds, how can we continue forward? Until we find the one thing we wish to achieve in our lifetime, how can we continue at all? Where will we get the strength if we do not find these deep motivating factors in our lives?

Perhaps that is one reason so many live in hopelessness and despair. Why should they continue to swim upstream when they have not searched for and found hope? What reason do they have to continue? Many give up, do they not?

Final thoughts

Our fundamental choices drive all of the decisions we make in life. You must first find and make a fundamental choice of that one thing you want before you die. There must also be a reason to pursue it. Otherwise, you will have little drive and purpose to supply the determination to keep swimming toward that final thing you want to achieve.

If you're not sure of your one thing and do not have a strong enough reason for pouring your life into achieving it, why not take a break. Before doing anything else in your life, figure out what it is you are after and determine the reason you wish to pursue it. Otherwise, you will continue simply spinning your wheels, getting nowhere fast.

There is a better way to live this life. Slow down and look deep inside to find what you need. I promise you will not regret taking the time to do so. And those you care about and love in your life will benefit as well. If you can't do it for yourself, at least do it for them!

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Semi-Retired-Leadership/Executive Coach -Personal & Career Growth Expert -Editor and Leadership Writer at Illumination -Author

Richmond, VA
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