Choose to Live with Hope and Optimism

Toby Hazlewood

How to create a life filled with possibility and opportunity

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Playing the lottery is a fool’s game, but I can’t resist buying a ticket now and again.

Statistically the chances of winning are similar to the odds of picking up a specific grain of sand on the beach — but someone’s got to win, right? An excellent story in Wired looking at the psychology of lotteries highlights that the main thing that drives people to play the lottery is a desire to escape the feeling of being poor. I'd go as far as to say it's a way of trying to escape all such feelings of powerlessness and despondency about life.

I’ve long since given up believing that a lottery jackpot will make my life complete. I don’t really believe in shortcuts, hacks or get rich quick schemes. There’s no way around hard work and following the process.

But there’s a tiny shred of hope and possibility that comes from having that slip of paper in my wallet with a few random numbers printed on it. Right up until I check it against the winning numbers, there’s hope that I might have won.

Hope is a powerful force.

Hope in all things

We all drift to a place of despondency and desperation from time to time. Whether we're navigating the seasonal affective disorder or seasonal depression brought on by the dark nights of winter, or reeling from the fallout of another political drama, our mood can be affected by the things going on around us more than we'd like.

It’s easier to see all the things that aren’t working out as we hoped, noting where we’ve tried and failed or were rejected or ignored. When efforts aren’t immediately rewarded or recognised it’s easy to lose faith.

At times like these we want to feel hope and optimism for the future. This is when I’m more likely to buy a lottery ticket — I’m clutching at anything that might offer a shred of hope, no matter how slim the odds may be.

Maybe, just maybe I’ll win this time.

In moments of objectivity I realise that of course, hope and possibility don’t just hinge on multi-million-to-one chances. They’re threaded through each and every day.

The trick to living a life strewn with possibilities and hope, or so it seems to me, is to view each thing we do as another reason to feel hope for the future.

Each of us sows seeds of hope and possibility into our lives in the things we do and say each day.

  • Writing and publishing a story to the world is a chance to connect with readers who might be moved, entertained or helped by our words. That story may go viral, it might lead to bigger opportunities or simply result in an email of thanks. There is little hope of any of these outcomes if we don’t publish in the first place.
  • Smiling at a passer-by or striking up a conversation might lead to a new friendship. At the very least it will brighten a stranger’s day just a little. Hope of a friendlier, more connected society doesn’t exist until we smile or open the conversation.
  • Reading a book or listening to a podcast might sow the seed of a new idea or yield a nugget of wisdom that helps us to solve a problem down the line. It may stimulate an idea within us or inspire us to take action towards a new cause.
  • Investing money today might mean we can fund a future opportunity or meet an unforeseen expense for us or our family.
  • Kind gestures and loving words shared generously with our loved ones service and strengthen our bonds, helping relationships grow and flourish for the long term.
  • Working out and eating healthily preserve our health, giving us the best chance possible of living long and happy lives. We make sacrifices in the moment in the hope of a healthier future.

It enables another lens through which to view our lives — to consider that everything we do today is an opportunity to create growth, opportunity and improvement for the future. Each action can be a source of hope for the future.

Where there’s life, there’s hope

Often the times when we most want to feel hope, to believe that there is hope of a better future are the times when it's the hardest to muster. This story on Self.com suggests lots of different coping techniques and strategies for living with hope or finding ways to engender a spirit of hopefulness in how we live. But perhaps one of the most illuminating and telling pointers offered in the piece is the idea that we'd do well to remember that sometimes it's just really hard to feel hopeful - it doesn't come on demand, and it's not always easy. To remember that might be what we need to keep in mind at times when all hope seems lost.

It's also helpful if we can try and keep our view narrow - on the here and now, on today.

Every day is a chance to make a difference to our lives and in others’ lives too.

When refugees trek for hundreds of miles to flee from war, persecution or famine, it’s with a sense of hope and possibility for a brighter future. There may be danger at their backs but it’s the promise of a safer, happier and brighter future that drives them forwards in hope.

Such extreme examples demonstrate how hope can be a powerful driver for bettering our lives.

In our lives of first-world privilege, we may still be driven by exasperation, despondency or a desire for a better life. We can grasp at the statistically unlikely possibilities presented by a lottery ticket that might just change our lives forever.

Alternatively, we can view each step towards our goal as one more reason to feel hope and optimism.

Take the steps towards the light. Sow the seeds of possibility that may flourish into something bigger and better.

Give yourself reason to hope for tomorrow through your actions today.

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