I desperately want people to find hope. Why? Because hope motivates change. Hope is connected to meaning and purpose in life. Hope hangs out with joy and peace. Hope is contagious. We all NEED hope.
Hopelessness (being without hope) is actually one of the defining features of depression and anxiety. Hopelessness tells us that it’s not worth even trying or that the worst will come true. Without hope marriages end, families stay disconnected, people hide and accept their pain, and in extreme cases, hopelessness can lead to death. This hope thing is serious business. In fact, I found that hope is so impactful that I believe the journey to discovering and holding onto hope is one of the most important journeys in our life.
We have all struggled with holding onto hope. This can look like a general sense of hopelessness or hopelessness in a specific situation. I’ve struggled with hopelessness. Whether it was my father diagnosed with stage-four cancer, chapters in my marriage where my wife and I were filled with hurt, or feeling as though I could disappear and no one would notice, my journey to discover and maintain hope has had its ups and downs. Here is what I have discovered -
Hope is the root that determines whether things heal or things stay the same. If you want to be a hope-bringer in this world, then you first must learn how to maintain hope in your life.
Hope is like fear. People can sense it – they can smell it. Here are some things that you can do to S.P.E.A.K. Hope into your life and provide encouragement to those you care about the most:
Spirituality – If we have positive thoughts about our future, then a sense of hope is typically found as well. But where do these positive thoughts about our future come from? They are tied in to our sense of purpose, meaning, and belonging in life. Intimately believing in something greater than ourselves gifts us with hope. Spirituality confirms that hope is bigger than just you. Discovering your spirituality- finding meaning and purpose in your life- will support your discovery of hope.
People – Find encouraging relationships. You are a relational being and you need others who really understand you and can speak encouragement to you. Encouragement is the key. Look at your relationships and find the most encouraging person you know. Spend time with them and see what happens. Also, take care of your most important relationships. If your marriage or relationship is hurting, then you will find a struggle with hope because so much meaning is connected to these relationships. These relationships may need attention and help from a therapist or pastor. Seek the help you need.
Engagement in meaningful activities – Scrolling Facebook all day? Hitting the video games? There is little meaning in these activities and they tend to leave people feeling empty. What are you doing with your time? If meaning and purpose is a factor in discovering hope, then how you choose to spend your time is very important. Find something that inspires you, learn something new, or spend time with people you love.
Activism - Hope is contagious. Extending kindness, generosity, and encouragement to others are like an expresso shot of hope to that person. It also comes with hidden benefit. The more we love on others, the more purpose and meaning will be found in our lives. The more we walk in purpose and meaning, the more we will see hope increases in our own lives. This comes down to “walking the talk.” You can profess hope, but only by acting out in your places of purpose and meaning will you be truly filled with hope.
Keep on Seeking - Hope is a journey. My spirituality has taught me to “keep on knocking” and to be persistent in my journey to hope. You will hear people say that they have lost hope. If that is you, know that we must continually be on the journey to discover hope. Hope needs to be pursued. It is not something that we find and keep for the rest of our lives. Think of hope like a wave – it will come and go at different intensities. When you realize hope is low it is a good time to go back to the areas of spirituality, people, engagement and activism to find it.
So, I challenge you to discover hope. Be a hope-bringer to those around you. To start, find your weakest area and begin your journey. My desire for you is that discover hope as you connect purpose and meaning to your life, and that this hope extends into your relationships and areas of greatest significance in your life. If you would like help in your journey to discover hope, then please contact me at www.nathanaelreadmft.com or (530) 953-9363.
Nathanael Read, LMFT is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, practicing in Redding, CA. He currently specializes in marriage and couples counseling, working with couples in conflict or distress, and individual counseling for those affected by depression, anxiety, and trauma. His passion is to help clients DISCOVER HOPE in their lives. Contact Nathanael with questions or to set up your FREE 15 minute Consultation to learn how you may benefit from therapy today.