Where Does Hope Begin?

Image via Flickr
Image via Flickr


1. a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.
synonyms: desire, wish, expectation, aspiration, ambition
2. a feeling of trust
1. want something to happen or be the case.

We are hard-wired for hope; not in a wistful, ignorant, youthful way, but in a deeply profound, essential to our survival kind of way. In fact, according to a recent study done by the National Academy of Science, “Our major scientific finding is that …words, which are the atoms of human language, present an emotional spectrum with a universal, positive bias.” This study was based on 5 million human scores, using 100,000 words, spread across 10 unique languages. In other words, we are all so universally grounded in hope, that the majority of the time we choose to view our world in a positive light, thus communicating positivity.

Anne Lamott describes the power of hope this way:

Hope begins in the dark .. .the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come.

Image via Flickr with modifications
Image via Flickr with modifications

It is this “stubborn hope,” this against-all-odds, defying rational thinking kind of hope that pulls us out of those dark places. It pushes us to wake up every morning despite knowing the challenges we will face. But this hope doesn’t just magically appear; you have to fight for it, and cultivate it.

The discipline of hope is much like forming any other habit: practice makes perfect.

Image via Flickr
Image via Flickr

Some people are under the impression that hope and positivity are a state of mind, and you must simply tap into that way of thinking. Here’s the thing though – while evidence shows that we all long to be hopeful people, it doesn’t always come naturally. The most practical thing you can do to change your thinking is to change your speech. According to Andrew Newberg, M.D. and Mark Robert Waldman, words literally can change your brain. In their book, Words Can Change Your Brain, “a single word has the power to influence the expression of genes that regulate physical and emotional stress.” This is why so many people find comfort and relief when they adopt a mantra, and keep it close to their hearts during stressful situations and troubling times.

Optimism for me isn’t that things will get better; it’s a conviction that we can make things better — that whatever suffering we see, no matter how bad it is we can help people if we don’t lose hope and we don’t look away. – Bill Gates

Hope tends to beget more hope. What are some of the ways you keep hope a float during dark seasons of your life?

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