Hope – just four little letters, but it speaks of a power which is incredibly lifegiving. Hope fortifies you when setbacks come, strengthens you in the face of disappointment, inspires you to reassess and consider new options, and urges you onward with self-belief. As poet Emily Dickinson reminds us, “Hope is that thing with feathers that perches in the soul, and sings the tune without the words, and never stops at all.”
Like me, you may be surprised to know that hope is not an emotion but is a way of thinking and can actually be learned. Researcher Dr. Brene Brown has found that hopeful people place value on persistence and hard work and are generous with hopeful self-talk: “This is tough, but I can do it!” As a learning tool, Brene tells us that hope happens when these three things occur:
- We have the ability to set realistic goals
- We are able to figure out how to achieve these goals, while staying flexible and willing to develop alternative routes
- We believe in ourselves
The lessons in this list point us toward the importance of coming to understand that failures are simply part of the learning process and refusing to let them have the last say, learning to trust our own innate resourcefulness as well as to ask for help, and making sure our self-talk sounds like we are encouraging a cherished friend (quite a challenge for some of us). As we continue to face the challenges of 2020, cultivating the life skill of hope holds out the beautiful promise of discovering silver linings within the clouds of life’s difficulty.
To cherish a desire with anticipation,
to expect with confidence
In the midst of winter,
I found there was within me,
an invincible summer.
When you are making decisions,
do it from a place of hope, not fear.
Hope is the oxygen of your soul.
This day is too dear,
with all its hopes and invitations,
to waste a moment on yesterdays.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Hope is important because it can make
the present moment less difficult to bear.
If we believe that tomorrow will be better,
we can bear a hardship today.
Thich Nhat Hanh
Most of the important things in the world
have been accomplished by people
who have kept trying
when there seemed to be no hope at all.
Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap,
but by the seeds that you plant.
Robert Louis Stevenson
I believe that imagination is stronger than knowledge.
That myth is more potent than history.
That dreams are more powerful than facts.
That hope always triumphs over experience.
That laughter is the only cure for grief.
And I believe that love is stronger than death.
When the world says, “give up,”
hope whispers, “try it one more time.”
God has not promised sun without rain,
joy without sorrow, peace without pain.
But God has promised strength for the day,
rest for the labor, light for the way,
grace for the trials, help from above,
unfailing sympathy, undying love.
Annie Johnson Flint
May the God of hope
fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him,
so that you may overflow with hope
by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles,
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not faint.
I wait for the Lord,
my soul waits and in his word I hope.
For with the Lord there is steadfast love
and with him is great power to redeem.
Faith is being sure of what we hope for
and certain of what we do not see.