Hope of something better

Today I want to use some of the words of Polly Campbell from her excellent article ‘Why Hope Matters’ in ‘Psychology Today’ magazine. This encapsulates much of my thinking over the past months. This was originally posted on Feb 5 2019.

‘My first November as a professional writer wasn’t an easy one.  My only client failed to pay his bill, I was receiving more rejections than assignments, my arthritis was flaring and my cat got $1,200-worth-of-vet-bills sick. I didn’t know how I was going to make my house payment and my stomach was upset. I stopped sleeping.  But, I never stopped hoping. I believed that I could make this writing business work, and I set to work making that happen.

Hope Comes With the Possibility of Something Better

Hope implies that there is the possibility of a better future, according to the famed hope researcher C.R. Snyder. It shows up at the worst possible time when things are dire and difficult, but can keep us going during those hard moments. If during the difficulty, we can see the faint glimmer of something better,  then hope “opens us up,” says Barbara Fredrickson, a positive psychology researcher. And turn us toward something better.

Hope is not a passive exercise in wishing, but an active approach to life, arising when there is something we want when we’ve got a clear goal in mind.  And though it may be tough going, we’ll develop a plan to get us closer to where we want to go.

My goal was to be a full-time writer. My plan included sending out dozens of queries each week, writing every day, working with a mentor, taking classes. I taught to make ends meet. Did some public relations work, wrote at night. And, I was willing to take an early-morning job delivering papers if I needed. Anything to leave time to write.

Through each of these actions, I made a little progress. Experienced a little success. Made a little money, sold a short article, became a better writer.  Those things kept me hoping, and that hope motivated me to keep working toward the ultimate goal. 

Hope is motivating for me, even now, 23 years later. It’s not a delusional wishing things away, but a clarity of vision. Once you have your goal in mind, then you can get busy doing the things you need to get there. It helps me feel more empowered and less stressed.

And right now, that matters more than ever. Looking at the challenges we face, the hostility and adversity that seems to be seeping into the corners of our culture, the hope that we can make a positive difference in our families and communities can help us do it. Can help us move from the negative into something a little better.

Hope Helps Us Keep Going

Research indicates that hope can help us manage stress and anxiety and cope with adversity. It contributes to our well-being and happiness and motivates positive action. Hopeful people believe they can influence their goals, that their efforts can have a positive impact. They are also more likely to make healthy choices to eat better or exercise, or do the other things that will help them move toward what they are hoping for.

Then, other positive emotions such as courage and confidence (self-efficacy) and happiness emerge. They become our coping strategy, the emotions crucial in helping us survive. They allow us to take a wider view, become more creative in our approach and problem solving and retain our optimism.

Hope isn’t delusional. It isn’t denial. It doesn’t ignore the real challenges, details of the diagnosis, or dwindling money in the checking account.  It is not woo-woo thinking’.

It doesn’t ignore the trouble, or make excuses, or deny danger. It is not pretending. It is acknowledging the truth of the situation and working to find the best way to cope. It’s showing up and working through the hard stuff, believing that something better is possible.  It’s resilient.

We can prime ourselves to hope, to move closer to optimism and action.’ 

What I have learnt about Hope over the past five months, is that she gives us courage in the face of adversity. Hope involves facing trouble head on, like a pandemic, but having an inner strength that things will improve and lessons will be learned. I would argue that Hope is very closely related to courage and endurance. And from those things comes an inner resilience to keep pressing forward.

So today’s recipe of hope is to reflect on the extract and to consider the ‘something better path’. If you are struggling then reflect on how y0ou have come this far and review your goals; is there someone you could seek advice from. And if you are planning a future as a writer or a career change, then reflect on what sacrifices you may need to make or steps towards this aim.

I wish you all a wonderful weekend X

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