In this season of despair, don’t lose hope

In this season of despair, don’t lose hope

For more than a year, most of us have been dealing with a steady drumbeat of sadness and uncertainty, led by a global pandemic that has brought unprecedented amounts of illness, death, isolation, job losses and political upheaval.

If there ever was a time for renewed hope, this is it.

What is hope? First, don’t confuse hope with optimism, they’re not the same. A recent report in the online magazine The Conversation defines optimism as believing that good things are going to happen. Hope is about planning and acting to make them  happen.

Hopeful people imagine. They set clear and achievable goals and plans. They believe in their own ability to get things done. They know it won’t be easy, but they’re confident they can adapt. When they hit bumps in the road, they just get more focused on their goals.

Many of life’s twists and turns, researchers believe, can actually help people cultivate hope. That boulder in the road can be a mountain of possibilities. There’s always a reason to hope.

You can help yourself hope by limiting the negative images and messages you absorb. You can’t always avoid the messiness of the world, but you can make choices about what you listen to, read and watch. You don’t have to dwell on the negative.

Hope can also depend on the company you keep. Connect with people who remind you why your life matters. Don’t try to go it alone, especially during such turbulent times.

Finally, trust the evidence of your life and the world at large. Throughout history, people have faced challenges that seemed insurmountable at the time, only to emerge stronger. You’ve overcome a lot, too.

Better days are coming. Just don’t lose hope.

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