What is hope?
Why is hope so important?
How can I find hope?
These are the questions we will attempt to answer in this article.
So let us begin.
What Is Hope?
Of all the thoughts and notions a person can have, hope is probably closest to trust.
When you have hope, you are placing your trust in the potential for something positive to happen.
You are trusting that taking the right actions will make a positive outcome more likely than taking the wrong actions.
When you hope for a better future, you are placing trust in yourself to make good choices in life.
When you trust someone, you hope that they will act in a way that embodies that trust.
When you jump out of an airplane, you hope you land safely, and you trust in your parachute.
The very act of carrying on and living your life is, by itself, a display of hope. It is the trust you have that when you go to bed at night, you will wake up to a new day that is filled with possibility.
What Hope Is Not
Look in a dictionary and you’ll see definitions for hope that include words such as desire, anticipation, and expectation.
But these are not really what hope is about.
The problem with desire, anticipation, and expectation is that when a particular thing is not forthcoming, they can disappear, leaving a void into which negative thoughts and feelings enter.
Just think of a child opening his birthday presents. He desires, anticipates, and expects a particular thing – a toy or bike, for instance.
When this thing is not forthcoming, what does he do? He gets upset. He has a tantrum. He is not grateful for the presents he did get.
But hope is not tied to a particular outcome.
Hope does not depend on certainty. Hope is merely the belief that there is the potential for something good to happen.
That something good is not anything specific. It is merely the idea of a positive outcome.
As Desmond Tutu once said:
Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.
The light is not a particular thing. The light is just something good – the potential for something good.
Why Is Hope So Important?
Now that we know what hope is and what it is not, why does it matter so much?
What are the reasons to have hope in life?
1. Hope is a healer.
We all face difficult times and we all get hurt. It’s inevitable.
But hope helps us to see that there are many positive possibilities ahead of us.
Hope whispers, “Things will get better.”
Hope puts the hurt and pain into perspective and reminds us that things are forever changing.
When we are at our lowest point, it is hope that lifts our head and shows us a path back toward something good.
Remember, hope is akin to trust, and when your general feelings are negative, you must trust that they will pass.
2. Hope shows us how to act.
Though hope is not tied to a particular outcome, it can still be a guiding force in our lives.
When we have hope, we are more likely to see the opportunities that come our way.
When we have hope, we are more likely to choose a path that leads to something positive.
When we have hope, we are more likely to act in a way that promotes a peaceful and joyful life.
Hope is a bit like an unseen compass that points us in the direction of something beneficial to our future.
3. Hope is a motivator.
Hope is a source of energy. It helps us to see something better up ahead and to put one foot in front of the other to move forward.
When we feel hopeful for the future, we wake up in the morning ready to embrace the day.
We are more prepared to work hard, to strive, to be willing to tackle and overcome the obstacles that we face.
Hope keeps us going when we hit a brick wall. It reminds us of why we are pursuing this path and of the potential for something good to come of it.
Hope allows us to answer Y-E-S! when life asks whether we’ve got what it takes.
4. Hope encourages self-belief.
Hope not only helps you to believe that something better is coming, it gives you the belief that you are the person who can make that something better come true.
When all we do is desire something to happen, we do not empower ourselves to try to make it happen.
But when we hope for something better, we tell ourselves that we have the power within us to change our direction of travel.
William Faulkner summed this up nicely when he said:
You cannot swim for new horizons until you have courage to lose sight of the shore.
If all you do is wish for new horizons, you are unlikely to see them.
It is hope that gives us the self-belief (or courage as Faulkner put it) to step onto a boat, cast off from the shore, and set sail, even if we do not yet know our destination.
5. Hope combats negative thoughts.
It is difficult to have negative thoughts and be hopeful at the same time.
Hope allows us to see light at the end of the tunnel and this light acts as a challenge to any unwanted thoughts.
When you think, “I can’t do this,” hope reminds you how capable you are.
When you think, “this is a disaster,” hope reminds you that things will improve.
When you think, “I hate my life,” hope reminds you that the future is full of potential.
Whilst hope can’t eradicate all negative thoughts immediately, the more we can nurture a feeling of hope, the less those thoughts will pop into our heads.
You may also like (article continues below):
- If You Have No Passion For Anything, Read This
- How To Trust Yourself: 20 No Bullsh*t Tips!
- 9 Things To Do When You Feel Defeated Or Discouraged
- 20 Healthy Coping Skills: Strategies To Help With Negative Emotions
6. Hope brings inner peace.
As with negative thoughts, hope can help ease negative feelings too.
Hope is the opposite of despair.
Whereas despair creates a breeding ground for self-loathing, inaction, and depression, hope allows joy, enthusiasm, and a quiet contentment to grow.
Even whilst a challenging situation remains, hope can transform our inner landscape into one that is less affected by the outside environment.
7. Hope is contagious.
People want to feel hopeful. They really do.
They want to believe – to trust – that the future is bright.
Which is why they are so willing and able to absorb the hope of others.
Hope spreads quickly. When the possibility of a better future is put forward, people are ready to listen and believe.
And so, the last reason why hope is important is because the more hope we have, the more hope we will inspire in others.
How To Find Hope For The Future
Now that we’ve hopefully convinced you of the importance of hope, let’s turn our attention to some of the ways you can find it.
1. Recognize your power.
Believe it or not, every action you take has an effect on things.
Every action pushes you toward a particular outcome.
This is your power.
It is up to you to use this power in a way that is beneficial to your life.
Learn to recognize cause and effect in your life and be aware of the decisions you are making.
2. Ask what positive actions you can take.
Once you understand the power you have in life, it’s time to ask how you might influence things in a positive way.
Look for opportunities to take an action which increases the likelihood of a positive outcome occurring.
Don’t expect or desire any particular outcome – remember that these things are not hope.
Just try to act based upon your values and you should head in the right direction.
3. Connect with people who have faced similar circumstances.
Whatever you are going through right now that has left you lacking in hope, know that plenty of other people have been there too.
Try to find and connect to these people and allow them to both support you and guide you.
This might mean following personal blogs, finding online forums, or going to meetings in real life.
The key is to find a community – even if that only involves sitting quietly and reading or listening to others.
It makes it easier to find hope again when you know that you’re not alone.
4. Lean on those closest to you.
You might be doing a good job of hiding how you feel from your family and friends.
Or it might be written all over your face, body language, and actions.
Either way, these are people who love you and care for you. They will want to help you rediscover hope.
They may not be able to offer you the knowledge or guidance that comes from the communities discussed above, but they can still give you lots of time and energy to help you through this period in your life.
This support network can help you with the practical things and the emotional healing, so as difficult as it might be to admit that you’re struggling, trust that they will be there for you.
5. Speak to a professional.
Both the communities from point #3 and your more personal support network from point #4 will probably advise you to get help from a mental health professional.
Listen to this advice.
A professional has the expertise and experience to help you tackle the very specific thoughts, feelings, and challenges in your life.
They will be able to provide you with specific tools that you can use to change how you think and find hope once more.
As much as we’d like to say this article is all you need, we know that it is only the starting point of your journey.
6. Work on your self-esteem and self-worth.
People often feel despondent and without hope when they look in the mirror and don’t truly like the person they see staring back at them.
Part of the process of bringing hope back into your life is growing to like who you are and seeing the value you have as a person.
Again, a professional will help with this, but here is an article that might help you in the meantime: To Grow Your Self-Esteem Over Time, Do These 10 Small Things Regularly
7. Don’t expect answers to all of the questions.
Remember that hope is a show of trust in the likelihood of a positive outcome.
But it can’t predict the future.
If you struggle to find hope because you don’t know how everything will turn out, or even the steps you’re required to take, don’t worry.
You can’t know the answers to all of the questions.
You just have to trust that things will happen and that something good will come of it.
Sometimes you’ll know what to do and other times you’ll just have a feeling that something is right.
Go with that feeling – it is your intuition, which is strongly linked to hope.
8. Be a source of hope for others.
When you don’t know where to find hope, look for it in those who need your help.
Even when you are struggling, you have the power to bring hope to other people by giving your time and energy to their needs.
This might mean helping out at a community organization or performing acts of kindness and generosity to friends, neighbors, or strangers.
You’ll find that being a source of hope for others becomes a source of hope for you.
Make this something you do even when you regain your hope.
9. Rejoice in the little things that make life worth living.
When hope is missing, life can seem drained of all its color and vibrancy.
But you can combat this feeling and find your hope once more by recognizing the little things and brief moments of calm in your life.
Showing gratitude for those positive things that already exist in your life makes it easier to trust in the potential for even better things ahead.
If you’re struggling to think of such little things, check out this post: The Simple Things In Life: A List Of 50 Little Pleasures
To sum things up…
Hope is not just important, it is one of the most essential things in life.
Hope keeps us going. It reminds us that bad times cannot last. It spurs us on to greater things.
If you have lost hope, the challenges you face may seem insurmountable. Which is why it’s vital that you try to find hope again – even if it’s just a tiny slither to begin with.
Speaking to a professional should definitely be your first step, and we hope that the other points above will help you on your journey too.
Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul – and sings the tunes without the words – and never stops at all. – Emily Dickinson