What It Means to Have Hope
When you feel good, how do you describe yourself? When is the last time you felt there was a bright future for yourself, and perhaps your career? What does it feel like to feel a sense of hope? The word hope is interesting in that it can have two very opposite meanings, depending upon how it is used. If a person is feeling optimistic, then it can be stated the person is feeling hopeful. But if that same person has decided there is little control of their life, or events which affect the outcomes of their life, then you could describe this person as feeling hopeless.
This is a year in which many are feeling both, a sense of hopefulness and hopelessness. Some believe our country has become too divided to heal any time soon, and only pay attention to rhetoric, the evening news, vitriol, and outrage. This is a fear-based reaction to life, one that results in pent-up feelings of anger, hatred, and outrage. When a person develops this disposition, there is sense of loss of control and that only exacerbates the intensely negative feelings. It also creates a loss of control when expressing those feelings, often targeting groups without a logical or rational explanation. The only reasoning is to try to quell the anxiety experienced within, which can never be fully satiated.
Then there are those who have a sense of a country coming together, seeking to unite for a common cause, and viewing life from the lens of compassion, never willing to believe in the worst of mankind. This is not a dream-like state that is not grounded in reality, rather it is one balanced in a belief that for as much negativity as there is in any living entity, there is also an equal proportion of positive energy and that is the energy of healing and reform.
If a focus on negativity causes nothing but unhappiness and disdain for others, along with internal disruption, why continue to focus upon it? Nothing will change in the long-term from this state of mind. Yet with a positive state of reference, one filled with hope, compassion, and care for other human lives, it may be possible to begin to work on the differences which divide one another. It is not a magic solution, but it is the manner in which unification and change begins, internally and externally.
A sense of hope is the feeling that can unite groups of people together, more than justice, love, belonging, or an attempt to bring about peace. Yet generating hopefulness is challenging as the word hope is often associated with future phrases. For example, a person may state, "I hope to one day become, own, find, achieve," and so on.
The Impact of Societal Messages
A person feels, or begins to feel, some sense of hopefulness when there is some level of certainty that what it is they seek will be attained. This is the manner in which societal messages are communicated via advertisements. There is some underlying promise of a benefit or outcome to be experienced, be it a product, medicine, or campaign promise, or change to follow, should a person buy into and accept the proposed message. The advertised message may not make a specific claim and yet, it is trying to generate a sense of hopefulness about what it represents.
This year in the United States, you will find more of these types of messages than usual, and it will take a highly informed mind to sort through rhetoric to determine who can provide hope. More importantly, individuals need to ascertain what lens they are viewing the world through now. If your sole view is that of the news media and social media platforms, you can easily acquire a sense of learned hopelessness for your country, that all is lost and there is no humanity left in the business of government.
And from that viewpoint, you will find yourself focused on a negative stream of energy, leading to learned helplessness about your own life. Should this continue, the internalized feelings can result in depression, anger, hatred, and even rage. It is all a very self-destructive state of mind.
An Alternative to Hopelessness
Yet there is an alternative as energy has a dual nature. Energy is equally balanced with positive and negative energy. You can decide to view the world around you with compassion and empathy. In other words, you never give up hope in the humanity of mankind. If you think like this you begin to act as an agent of change by uniting others. Does it mean you will lead groups or start a non-profit organization? That is up to you.
But what it does mean is that you can live in and among others in the world without a sense of internal grief and despair. You can find your internal balance and work towards helping, not hurting, others. What else does this mean? You will view others without fear, regardless of their differences, even if it takes time to understand who they are.
You Get to Decide
There can be hopefulness or hopelessness in your worldview. The choice is yours, just as you can decide to focus on what is going well or not so well in your life. You can only make changes, find peace, and bring stability into your life when you feel a sense of hopefulness. And you are the one in direct control of those feelings, as no one and nothing needs to determine it for you.
There is hope for you and mankind, and there always will be. Are you ready to find your own hopefulness and sense of peace?
About the author...
Dr. Johnson specializes in distance learning, adult education, faculty development, online teaching, career management, and career development. Dr. J has a Ph.D. in Postsecondary and Adult Education, a Certificate in Training and Performance Improvement, and a Master of Business Administration, MBA.
Dr. J's mission is to teach, write, and inspire others. He writes blog posts, articles, and books to inform, inspire, and empower readers. To learn more about resources that are available for educators, along with career and professional development, please visit www.drbruceajohnson.com.
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