The Power of Hope (During a Pandemic)
The information in this blog post came in whole or in part from a blog by Golareh Safarian, Mindfulness Coach, Founder at The Healing Salon and from Positive Psychology’s website. Both websites are listed at the end of this blog. I wish to give full credit to the authors.
The Power of Hope (During a Pandemic)
What is hope? The Dictionary by Merriam-Webster defines hope as “desire accompanied by expectation of or belief in fulfillment.” Cambridge Dictionary defines it as “something good that you want to happen in the future, or a confident feeling about what will happen in the future.” Collins Dictionary offers this: “a feeling that what is wanted is likely to happen; desire accompanied by expectation.”
What all of these definitions have in common is the notion that hope is a desire for a better or improved future. But in reality, hope is so much more than that. It is an often-undervalued prerequisite to being motivated. Hope is the fuel needed to pursue goals, a cognitive tool to visualize the various ways one can overcome obstacles, adapt to changing circumstances, survive, and succeed.
Without hope, we succumb to pessimism, give up more quickly, accept the status quo, and become complacent. Without hope, we miss opportunities, are blind to possibilities, and limited by anxieties and fear. Without hope, we lose faith in ourselves, in others, and in humanity. We become cynics, feel sorry for ourselves, and are shackled by victim mentality.
When we hope, we believe. We believe in persevering, in overcoming, in seeing our dreams for a better future realized. We become innovative, think of different avenues to achieve our goals, feel empowered, and motivated. So hope is the key. The key to survival; to evolve, improve and adapt.
In today’s pandemic environment, hope plays an even more critical role in our mental well-being. Optimism and positivity are also essential, but having hope is a necessary precursor to both. To understand this better, let’s consider the difference between hope and optimism. While hope is the desire accompanied by the expectation for a better future, optimism is the belief that what you’re hoping will eventually happen. Hope is goal-oriented, purpose-driven, and solution-based, while optimism is outlook-oriented, attitude-driven, and hopeful-based. Consider also the difference between optimism, which is a trait, and positivity, which is a choice.
Cultivating, developing, and nourishing these three constructs – namely hope, optimism, and positivity – should become part of our daily mindfulness routines, especially as we navigate through life challenges during COVID-19. Hope will motivate us to believe in a future free from the limitations placed on us by this virus. This motivation will guide us to set goals and find pathways to achieve these goals. It will give us a solution-focused mindset where life without this virus is a top priority. Without hope, fear will embolden, and chaos, lurking just around the corner, will be encouraged to make an appearance.
Optimism and positivity also play critical roles. Optimism will furnish us with the belief that what we’re hoping will come to pass, in turn, enhancing our faith in our hope. And positivity will enhance our tenacious commitment to remain optimistic.
Strengthening these three constructs, incorporating positive mindfulness routines, and shifting our mindset to look at our current situation as an opportunity rather than a limitation, will help us manage our anxiety and stress, and maintain a clear and calm mind.
Below is an exercise to help begin the process of cultivating, developing, and nourishing hope and what it means to have hope. Write your own hope-focused questions on pieces of paper and answer at random over the next week or two. The following are several examples to help you explore the ritual of hope and evaluate different methods of expressing hope:
What does it mean to you to have hope during COVID-19?
What are the benefits of having hope?
Are there any risks with having hope?
In your opinion, what does a hopeful person like, sound like and act like during this pandemic?
How have you used hope in your own life?
If a picture on your wall could remind you of hope every morning, what would that picture be?
What is the smallest possible change that could increase your hope regarding the current pandemic?
How could you begin to adopt a more optimistic attitude and outlook (belief that what you are hoping for will eventually happen)?
How are you choosing positivity each day?
What limitations could I try to view as opportunities during this pandemic?
What does life without this virus begin to look like? What are my hopes for life after a vaccine is developed?
What are your desires and expectations about the future (something good that you want to happen in the future)?
Golareh Safarian, Mindfulness Coach, Founder at The Healing Salon