“Far away there in the sunshine are my highest aspirations. I may not reach them but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them and try to follow them.”
– Don Quixote
HOPE. What is the role of hope in your life? If your world seems to be disintegrating right before your eyes, how do you pick yourself up?
I’ve been answering more calls lately from people who are trying to make sense of our rapidly changing world. They are searching for refuge from the storm – something to hold on to. Some, who have never been unemployed in their adult lives, have lost their livelihoods. Others are experiencing high anxiety and health problems due to financial strain. My neighbor, for example, who is in his 40s and seemed otherwise physically fit, just had a stress-induced heart attack. Many people are scared about the future and increasingly cynical about their apparent lack of control over their own lives. Our entire country seems to have lost hope.
Hopelessness is dangerous. It can lead to a weakened, almost paralyzed and apathetic state of suspension – waiting listlessly, sometimes desperately, for things to be better. What do you do when you feel the walls closing in on you? What do you hold on to? We need hope more than ever. We are in tumultuous times that require extraordinary belief in humanity and our collective ability to create a better society. The power is in our hands, if we believe and take consistent action – no matter how small the steps may seem.
There are abundant stories of everyday triumph for those who reclaim hope in their lives. For example, I received a call from a woman I met only once. She was crying and said I was the only person she thought would understand and not judge. Her soon-to-be ex-husband’s business was going bankrupt, and she was nervous about getting back into the workforce when so many people were being laid off. She was trying to be strong, but I could feel the pain in her voice. Her language and obviously heightened despair made me concerned that she was considering just giving up – which would have only made things worse. I reminded her of her own greatness and urged her to remain in gratitude. I asked her, “What is going right in your life?” She spoke of her children and someone she had helped emotionally and financially in the past who had a serious health disorder. She said she would visit her. That was a good first step, and although I knew she felt like retreating, I also urged her to reach out beyond herself – to make herself useful to others, thereby expanding her universe and the good in it. I shared with her a basic principle – that being out there in the world in a selfless manner would invite even more people in who could help with employment advice or simply moral support. Lastly, I told her I would pray for her – which I did. A few days later, she emailed to say I had given her hope. She was not ready to give up. Now she has her first interview in ten years. The job is not guaranteed, but she is pushing forward one deep breath at a time.
A misunderstanding of hope is risky. Hope is not merely wishful thinking, such as hoping for a job when you haven’t even updated your resume, or hoping for good health when you drink and smoke excessively. Hope is a desire that comes from deep within your Core accompanied by confident expectation of its fulfillment, fueled by positive acts. It is a dynamic power we all possess that allows us to see beyond problems to possibilities. It is not a passive state. Hope is belief plus action which generates the most potent energy source in the world. Hope can heal, causing specific electrochemical changes in the body that influence the strength of the immune system. Hope changes history, making the once impossible… inevitable.
Don’t get me wrong. In the face of despair, being hopeful can be hard work. It’s easy to be a pessimist and become a victim. Sometimes the strongest hope is born of crisis, where you uncover the essence of who you really are. I rediscovered my own courage when I nearly died in 1997 from a digestive disorder and had to rebuild my entire life, and then again in 2001 when I had to escape my home which was three blocks from the World Trade Center on 9/11. When all seems lost, you must reach for a mature hope – a hope beyond human hoping based on a spiritual foundation. It is the type of resolve described in 2 Corinthians:
“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed;
perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned;
struck down, but not destroyed. Therefore, we do not lose heart.
Though outwardly we are wasting away,
yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.”
That is a great way of thinking no matter what your religion is – or isn’t! So, if you feel struck down, don’t lose heart. Take time to cultivate the engine of hope by deepening belief in your Source and consistently taking positive – even selfless – action. Seek to renew your inner light and cultivate a sense of gratitude for what is going right. Seek to serve others and you will quickly know your intrinsic value. When you walk through the door of hope, you can become a change agent, not only transforming yourself but becoming a more effective leader – helping others feel passion for the possible.
If you seem to be losing hope:
Today, I have hope.
My self-worth is not contingent on my current circumstances. I am destined to achieve. I understand that I can charge the engine of hope through the power of choice. I confront my fears with belief and action. I have faith in the promise of a fulfilled life. If my material ground is shaky, I seek a more solid spiritual foundation. I know that hope can change the world. If I see others in darkness, I lend them my light.
Today, I have hope.
Listen to the Affirmation:
Copyright Teresa Kay-Aba Kennedy. Power Living® Column Vol. 17.09, originally published September 2005; revised February 2009. Teresa Kennedy has written over 70 “The Power of…” columns that are a part of the Power Living® Empowerment Series and available for syndication. Call 212-901-6913 for more information.
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