We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.
….Martin Luther King Jr.
As 2017 is coming to a close, you may recall the highs and lows of the year and wonder where on earth the time went. During the hectic holiday season, it is easy to get swooped up by the current of celebrations that can at times feel overwhelming, but perhaps take a moment to step back to the banks of what this all represents. What do all of the ceremonies and traditions mean to you? Obviously, that answer is unique and personal, but regardless of different perspectives the current of hope connects us all.
Whether you participate in Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanzaa, or simply enjoy the seasonal lights, trees and decorations, the concept of hope resounds. One of the reasons many people participate in traditions is because they believe they’re important for renewing a sense of belonging and restoring hope for the future. Many traditions are meant to be a respite for the modern world, to step back and reconnect with loved ones. But what if you don’t feel hopeful despite the festivities? Maybe you are burned out from a stressful career, a break up, or an aging parent who now needs you? It is possible to renew your sense of hope amid despair or challenges.
First of all, hope is essential to human beings for survival. Hope is blind to difference it is not dependent on social status or income, it is not reserved for the few–it is a birthright. One-way to jumpstart your hope is to set simple achievable goals. Rather than laboring over a grandiose list, take baby steps. Maybe you want to take the holiday celebrations down a notch or two, you want to switch out the pressure of gift giving for volunteering or getting together for a pot luck and a silly gift exchange or you want to reemphasize the spiritual. Find a step-by-step way to achieve the goal. Invite friends, keep it simple and let others contribute. You will probably be surprised how many people are happy and grateful, this in turn gives you hope that change is always possible. You can revise the status quo.
Perhaps you want to go back to college in the next year or find a new job. Begin to talk to the counselors or department heads, learn everything you can about different programs that appeal to you and set a date to start the application process. If change in career is what you’re after, take a step in that direction, talk to others find out what you need to get started. Hope will revive when you picture your possibilities, then as you begin to do things towards that goal, hope like oxygen to a fire, will fuel itself.
In the book “The Anatomy of Hope.” Dr. Jerome Groopman, found that researchers discovered the power of hope to change the chemistry of your brain. “Belief and expectation are the key elements of hope. When people experience hope, they can block pain by releasing the brain’s endorphins.”
Surround yourself with people that believe in you, that give you hope and sincere positive reinforcement. Stay clear of chronic naysayers, particularly if you are on the mend to building your hope back up. Repeat hope mantras such as, “I can” daily. Post sticky notes that restate your right to hope, to become, to believe in whatever you want. Words and thoughts are powerful, by surrounding your psyche with positive people and mental images, hope will bloom and cheer you to the finish line.
As the holiday season continues, take a moment to remember that with each setting sun comes a sunrise and we are reminded that with hope, all things are possible.