Hope is our natural insulation from the coldness of despair. Like rooting for your football team when they are down by a touchdown with only seconds left on the clock, envisioning a positive outcome keeps us in the game of life. You never know when that next Hail Mary is coming to turn your life around.
Dr. Charles R. Snyder, a clinical psychologist at the University of Kansas, and editor of the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, defines “hope” as “positive expectation.” He points to studies that link greater hope with: less depression, shorter recovery from illness (because we avoid behaviors that keep us sick), less physical pain in response to stress, and greater health-related knowledge.
Nurturing hope is a survival skill. By maintaining a positive attitude and keeping your mind open to all possibilities, you will find that every setback comes with opportunities. Hope has three inevitable traits that keep the mind, body and spirit alive. (Adapted from Dr. Dan Collins’ website*):
- Hope looks beyond. It rises above our challenges and directs us to the greater good. Hope never gets bogged down by negativity because it knows a brighter day is coming.
- Hope looks within. When external circumstances get cloudy, hope looks for the light inside you.
- Hope looks through. Hope doesn’t stop when we run up against a wall. It looks at the problem until it discovers a solution.
Hope empowers us to never give up. So how do we learn to hope? Martin Seligman*, a psychologist and master of positive thinking, wrote that we can learn hope the same way we learn hopelessness. The key is to say, “I will find a way,” no matter what challenge we face.
Dr. Seligman’s Definition of Optimism*
Steps Toward Hopefulness
- Practice being hopeful.
- When you get involved with something, see it through to the end.
- Make a pact with a friend or family member to never give up hope.
- Learn to say, “I will find a way,” no matter the challenge.
Ribbons of Hope: Maggie’s True Story of Help & Hope for Teen Suicide Prevention*
*These videos and links will give you access to information not produced by Methodist Healthcare.