8 Ways to Build Hope Every Day

Glass-half-full perceptions are helpful. Here's how to start.

August 23, 2016
flower growing pavement

Hope can get mistaken for a lot of other things, like optimism, wish making, and even denial. While being positive and looking on the bright side are both excellent qualities, they make up only half the hope story and are not synonymous or interchangeable with hope.

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In 2008, Duane Bidwell, PhD, associate professor of practical theology at Claremont School of Theology, studied hope among chronically ill children. In an article on CNN.com, he clarified the significant difference between hoping and wishing. Wishing encourages passivity, whereas hope signifies an active stance. "Wishing is the fantasy that everything is going to turn out okay. Hoping is actually showing up for the hard work."

So glass-half-full perceptions are helpful, but how do we complete or increase our hope quotient and get ready for the active hard work we want to do?

Come to terms with the unknown
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Accept your past circumstances as things you cannot change, and embrace the knowledge that life is all about uncharted territory and going with the flow instead of fighting it. None of us have any idea what each day will bring, but we can be determined to do our best in each moment and believe that it means a lot!

listen to your intuition
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Hope is an important component of a spiritual life, regardless of whether you consider yourself religious. Likewise, intuition is very much a gift from the universe, and it exists with hope in a spiritual realm. To trust that you have been provided an inner compass--one that is guaranteed to be spot on, never faulty or haywire, and that will always send you in the right direction—is nothing but hopeful. When you resolve to trust your intuition, there is no fear, only hope that you will make better decisions with your divine-given guide that will lead you to your destiny. 

More: How to Recognize Signs From the Universe

Challenge yourself
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Mastery tasks are the ones we do because we know we can. What hope can we derive from driving a car when we've been doing it for twenty years? Prove to yourself that you can move out of your comfort zone and you'll find your hope quotient hits fourth gear. The thrill of taking on a challenge—whether you succeed or not—is what will make you better.

More: How to Free Yourself From Being a Victim

Growth and improvement do not happen when we cruise in automatic. Once you get out there and try tasks that you aren't good at or have never tried before, you will trust the process more and believe you can improve well beyond your current speed.

shared community
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We should assume that someone as close as our next-door neighbor is hurting. Seeking out people to talk to or listen to can provide a powerful source of hope because their survival stories are inspirational. They are the proof that you are not alone in your pain, and also that you can pull through. There is also something to be gained by acting as the support system for someone else. We feel useful and hopeful that we are already gaining wisdom from our pain to share with others who need it.

Moderate your news media
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Not only are stories of war, terrorism, economic crashes, abductions, and natural disasters bad for our moods, they can curtail our hope quotient, bringing us down into a "what's the point?" mode. I'm lucky that while I work on stories that are based on tragic crime, the families I interview are dramatic examples of life after tragedy and act as beacons of hope that inoculate me against anxiety and depression. I cannot recommend the practice of screening your media highly enough.

believe in a higher order
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There are patterns and opportunities afforded to us by the universe every day. Everything happens for a reason, even the bad stuff. This is called synchronicity, and I believe in it deeply. That everyone who crosses my path has been made to do so in order to implement a grander plan is my greatest source of hope. 

More: How to Identify Your Universal Spiritual Team

borrow hope from others
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When you make your goals clear, people tend to rally around you. Gathering practical support from others in the form of cheerleading or advice, doing some pavement pounding, or even just venting to others will help you keep alive the sense that you are on your way to somewhere better. I felt like I told everybody that I was going to take a shot and pitch a show titled Monster in My Family. And then one person would mention they knew someone in the business, another led me to meeting people who loved watching television who told me what would make their viewing more pleasurable, and so on.

The process of writing the show treatment, pitching it, and negotiating for it became the primary focus of my life for so long, even the people bagging my groceries knew to ask how it all went! And each one somehow increased the quality and relatability of the show itself.

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Shane J. Lopez, PhD, is a senior scientist at Gallup and has been called the world's authority on the psychology of hope. In Making Hope Happen: Create the Future You Want for Yourself and Others, Dr. Lopez writes that our capacity to travel back in time and into the future in our minds, or "futurecasting," is the fundamental skill for making hope happen. Futurecasting is how well we can preview the future—which is also essentially a measure of our ability to imagine and hope for improvement. He cites using the tool known as the Cantril ladder as an exercise each of us can do to test our expectations for the future.

It goes something like this: Imagine a ladder. The top represents the best possible life for you, the bottom is the worst. Which step of the ladder do you say you're standing on right now? Which step do you think you will be on about five years from now? "No matter where you start, and no matter how far off your best possible life seems," Dr. Lopez writes, "if you expect to be on a higher rung five years from now, you share the first core belief of the hopeful: 'The future will be better than the present.'" We will soon discuss how the practice of visualization can help you further imagine your best expectations for an optimal life.

Each of these eight ideas will be like putting another nail in the floorboards of your house of hope while beginning to shelter you from the constraints of your pain existence. As you insulate the walls with hints of hope, you create progress. Hope and power go hand in hand: When your hope quotient goes up, so does your power. You are about to make miracles happen. 

Adapted from WHOLE

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