How strong is your hope for 2021? How about for your twilight years? As we discussed last week https://keystoneelderlaw.com/nourishing-hope-for-2021-and-beyond/, hope is more than just wishful thinking. Hope for your future involves having a vision, feeling empowered to reach the vision, and actively pursuing the vision.
If your reservoir of hope is somewhat low right now, it can be nourished and replenished with a few regular practices. Newport Academy, a program for teens and young adults who are struggling with trauma, addiction, mental health issues, and eating disorders; shares the following techniques to cultivate this attribute. See their full article: https://www.newportacademy.com/resources/mental-health/hope-and-mental-health/. These tips are applicable for anyone who desires to bolster their reserves of hope.
- “Focus on your strengths.” Using our gifts, talents, and the things we “are good at” in all areas of our lives will create positive feelings and confidence to help weather the difficult times.
- “Practice gratitude.” An attitude of appreciation for both the large and small details of life will naturally lend itself to an opportunistic outlook for the future.
- “Reframe negative thoughts.” Learn to recognize other emotions, such as fear, which may be dragging you down and identify aspects of a seemingly impossible situation which can be acted upon to produce a positive result.
- “Limit media exposure.” The news usually contains more negative than positive stories, which can create unnecessary stress and anxiety.
- “Spend time with hopeful, optimistic people.” Some psychologists believe that social connectedness is an essential element of hope. Since both positive and negative emotions expressed by others can produce similar feelings in people who are around them, be conscious of with whom you interact and how often.
Psychologist Shane Lopez, PhD, author of the 2013 book Making Hope Happen, offers 3 basic steps for nourishing hope which are closely aligned with psychologist Charles R. Snyder’s definition of hope.
- The Vision – You may start with a general vision, but Dr. Lopez recommends that the vision be refined so that it is specific. Tools such as visual cues should be developed to give life to the vision and to keep your attention focused on the goal. He calls this “futurecasting.”
- Action – Once the goal is clear, you can formulate and undertake concrete actions to lead you in the direction of your goal.
- Plan B – Since obstacles commonly occur in life, hope is more easily maintained when alternate plans are available in case your first strategy doesn’t work out. An awareness of multiple options and willingness to pursue a different route if necessary will allow you to readjust with less disruption to your focus and motivation.
- “Regoaling” – Dr. Lopez identifies this fourth step for those who may need to reimagine a goal or goals because of circumstances. An example is an athlete who suffers a devastating injury. The athlete may no longer be able to set a new record or even participate in the sport, but can explore other opportunities affiliated with their sport such as coaching or announcing.
Hope can be found in a multitude of places and ways. What provides hope for one person may not be a resource for someone else. When attempting to encourage others or build yourself up during a challenging time, try to figure out what type of experience characterizes hope for that individual. Perhaps vigorous physical activity, spending time in nature, a telephone call with a special friend, or one’s personal faith will stimulate hopefulness.
Sometimes we may be surprised by an unexpected sight, sound, or occurrence which suddenly lifts our spirits. Slowing down to savor these moments can help recharge our hope.
As we move through 2021, may hope be your constant companion and may you provide a ray of hope to those around you.
Karen Kaslow, RN, BSN