Mental Health Moment | Hope
May 04, 2022
“They say a person needs just three things to be truly happy in this world: someone to love, something to do, and something to hope for.” -Tom Bodett
Hope isn’t the same as wishing. We can wish for all sorts of things in our lives, like wishing to win the lottery or wishing someone who’s gone could come back into our lives. We can wish for things that we know won’t happen, which means we don’t really have hope for those things, but we merely want them. Having hope means having a belief that something will happen and holding out for it based on that belief. Hope includes an element of trust and faith in an eventual outcome that we’re looking forward to.
I heard one time, “You can never have everything, because there will always be something new or better to want.” While this may be true, I do believe there is a lot to be said for having hope for something better, particularly when you find yourself in a bad situation. Hope that it can improve may often be the only thing that keeps us holding on. When someone loses the feeling of having hope they can start to lose the will to carry on. If things aren’t going to get better, and they’re difficult or painful now, without hope of improvement a person can become weary and lose momentum, patience, and a reason to continue.
Without hope, it’s easy to fall into feeling like life is a futile cycle of efforts that have no purpose. Hope gives us a reason to get out of bed and to give effort to the things we do throughout the day. Hope gives us something to look forward to -- who doesn’t need that in their life? Married couples who are struggling can find hope by setting goals together, working on them in unison, and learning new things as a team. This joint effort gives them a sense of purpose and hope as a couple. Individuals can find hope by seeking things to look forward to, and by setting goals that move them toward a desired result.
If you’re feeling like you don’t have hope, don’t give up. Look more deeply at what you want in your life and find avenues to reach that. Set mini goals that, little by little, keep moving you toward what you want. As you reach the smaller goals that are working toward the bigger goals, you’ll find that your level of hope will increase. You’ll feel small elements of accomplishment and start feeling that you are getting closer to the thing(s) that you are now looking forward to. That’s hope, which gives you a reason to carry on.
If you really feel like you have no hope related to a previous goal you set, it may be time to change it up and find a new goal. Not everything in life will go the way we want it to, and sometimes even the most optimistic people with the best outlined plans don’t end up reaching the original goal. We’ve got to be flexible, adaptable, and continue re-assessing all the time, adding in elements that move us forward, and removing the obstacles that are holding us back. Clearing paths for goals re-opens our ability to feel hopeful and to have something to look forward to again. Even changing just one aspect of a plan, substituting it with something more reachable, can put you on a path toward good things. Removing a negative and replacing it with a positive can make everything look different. Where you felt no hope previously, you may suddenly find that you feel hope and optimism again. ֎