An airplane carrying almost 300 passengers shot down over Ukraine. Parents sending their children away, because detention at the US border is more promising than life amid Central American violence and poverty. Palestinian children gunned down while playing on the beach. Eat that with your oatmeal this morning. All this heartbreak and heaviness brought right to our fingertips, thanks to the Internet.
So, I am shutting it out and sending love to the victims. I’m instituting a news limitation in my house. Especially around my 7 year old. I spend many evenings soothing her worries. Will we have water to drink? Always? Why are the polar bears and bees dying? Why do some grown-ups hurt kids? I’m afraid someone will break into our house during the night, Mom. I weave a quilt of comforting responses to concerns that also chill me. I do whatever I can to divert the constant assault on her innocence. Or on both of our optimism. Both are precious.
Vitamin H. Hope doesn’t just feel good. It helps keep us healthy.
One of my favorite recent reads was a book entitled, “Mind Over Medicine”, by Dr. Lissa Rankin. She has collected data and explored the effect that mindset and beliefs have on health. She eloquently illustrates the importance of optimism to wellbeing by pointing out its association with longer life expectancy, improved immunity, dramatically lower rates of heart disease, less depression, and happier relationships. Who doesn’t want to experience all of these benefits? Let’s keep the hope rolling!
How do we keep our attitudes on the upswing in the face of all this global pain? I don’t know about you, but I really don’t want to spend my life fearing the next crisis or terrorist attack. I want to wake up excited for opportunity, for improvement, for growth. I subscribe to the belief that focusing on the positive will create even more positive, and that immersion in darkness makes happiness seem elusive. I’m not saying to pretend it’s not out there. Pain is part of life. When pain visits, feel it, listen to it, acknowledge it, give it the time it needs, but know that in the end, it will all be okay. Remember that the difficulties pass. Life moves on. Keep the faith.
Keeping Hope Afloat:
- Be very selective in what you feed your absorbent mind. Take a break from the news and downer discussions if you are feeling overwhelmed or sad. Dose yourself with the positive. Say YES to any depiction of:
- Notice beauty in everyday moments, like:
– the joy in your dog’s face when you say the word, “walk”
– the smell of your favorite meal cooking in the kitchen
– the feel of cool grass on your bare feet
– sharing raucous laughter with friends
– lying down in a bed with fresh sheets
- Set aside time each day for quiet contemplation. Find stillness in your breath, your heartbeat, and your thoughts. Know that no matter what happens around you, you will be fine. It will all be okay. You have an endless reserve of peace that lies inside of you.
- Imagine solutions. If we spent more time discussing fixes instead of the problems, we’d be a happier bunch, and we’d get a lot more solved. Keep moving forward. Don’t get stuck in the misery or hardship of an event.
- Exercise in a way that makes you feel free. For some, running is the ultimate cathartic. For others, the solid thuck of a tennis ball smacking against a racket brings satisfaction. For me, nothing is better than dancing the day or night away. Whatever it is that gives you that happy escape, do it. Regularly. Better yet, have a few activities from which to choose, and mix it up.
- Help others. Buy someone a few more minutes of metered parking. Help a friend move. Surprise your mom with a letter of appreciation. Give a few hours at the community food bank. Be a positive force in a world hungry for it.
- Soak in each happy moment and let it absorb completely into every cell of your being. Immerse yourself completely in the time you spend laughing, feeling peace, and loving. Appreciate the many, many positives in life. The more we look for them, the more we realize they surround us.
Life is filled with frightening, infuriating, and tragic events. Let them remind you that there are no guarantees in life. Instead of letting the trying times terrify you, use them to motivate you to be and do your best. To love bigger, hug tighter, laugh harder, and to make the most of the time we have. Push your limits past your fears and shine more. Take every opportunity to counter the bad with good, and help foster hope in ourselves and in others.
I choose to tuck my daughter in bed at night and share stories of happy times, overcoming challenges, strength, and love. I want her to incorporate these messages into choices she makes and the way she views the world around her. Hope is one of the most precious gifts we can give to others.
How do you stay hopeful? I’d love to hear!