Hoping is Not a Hopeless Endeavor
Every spring, I love seeing the Jacaranda trees covered in purple blossoms and watching the vegetable seedlings sprout in my garden. These signs of new life remind me to be hopeful; that after the dormancy of winter, the earth will come back to life.
Hope is a life-giving belief that our future will be good – and we all need a healthy dose of it. The article below is a good way to check in with yourself about your perspective on the future and whether it’s hindering or helping you.
Having a healthy dose of hope can be motivating and inspiring. It keeps people focused on what’s ahead instead of what’s in the past. It can also help keep the focus on possibilities, and reframe obstacles as opportunities. For some, however, being hopeful goes hand-in-hand with feeling naïve or foolish when things don’t work out as planned. They would rather not have hope at all if it means later disappointment. But having hope doesn’t have to mean living in denial of life’s difficulties; it can be a motivating reminder that there are better times ahead.
The Benefits of Hope
Research indicates that it’s more beneficial to have hope than not. Hopeful people tend to show more resilience when faced with difficulties. They have healthier lifestyle habits and, on the whole, are more successful, personally and professionally.
According to the Mayo Clinic, having a hopeful, positive attitude has health benefits as well. These include:
- Increased life span
- Reduced depression
- Lowered levels of distress
- Increased resistance to the common cold
- Greater emotional and psychological well-being
- Decreased risk of death from cardiovascular disease
- Improved coping skills during difficulties/stress
In addition, people with hope typically have:
- Meaningful long- and short-term goals
- A plan to achieve those goals
- Flexibility to find alternate ways to achieve goals when faced with obstacles
- Positive self-talk
We humans are sometimes too inventive for our own good—we can envision a future course of action along with every potential catastrophe that could occur along the way. Being aware of everything that can go wrong often makes doing nothing—in an attempt to avoid failure or pain—seem like a viable option.
Cultivating hope, on the other hand, helps activate creativity and inventiveness and prompts us to solve the predicaments we face by taking action in spite of our fears.
Hope brings with it the belief that things can change for the better. Regardless of how dire things may seem, there is potential for a positive outcome.
Is It Possible to Be Too Hopeful?
It could be said that optimists have a healthy dose of hope while “extreme optimists” suffer from blinding hope. They want nothing to do with bad news.
Researchers at Duke University found that extreme optimists (you could call them “high-hopers”) don’t save money, don’t pay off credit cards and don’t make long-term plans, but they are more likely to remarry if divorced.
Moderation, as usual, is the key. The researchers also found that “moderate optimists” tend to:
- Work harder
- Work longer hours
- Make more money
- Save more money
- Pay off credit cards
Being a moderate high-hoper doesn’t mean keeping your head in the sand when it comes to life’s occasional unpleasant circumstances. It just means keeping a positive attitude—believing the best will happen, not the worst.
In other words, whether you expect the best or the worst from life, chances are that’s what you’ll get.
Studies seem to suggest that being hopeful is a skill that can be learned. So whether you’re an extreme optimist, an extreme pessimist or somewhere in between, there is hope for us all.
Author’s content used under license, © Claire Communications
When you anticipate your future plans or an upcoming life change, are you hopeful? Or are you thinking of all the things that can possibly go wrong? Perhaps this spring is an opportunity to learn to be more hopeful.
For some of us, simply taking the time to reflect positively on the possibilities in our future can be enough to help us shift our attitude. Developing positive habits – such as taking time every day to be grateful or to do something you enjoy — is another way to cultivate hopefulness.
For others, our deeply engrained negative patterns of thinking may need more serious work. EMDR therapy can help you process these negative patterns and change your ability to perceive and interpret reality with a new, more hopeful, lens.
If you’d like to work with one of our team on this or any other area of your life where you want to see change, you can make an appointment with one of our EMDR certified therapists by calling 818-681-6627.
To learn more about Donna Resendez, Brooke Heppner, Amy Burdick or myself, please visit my website at www.kaysimmethlmft.com.
Meet Amy Burdick
We’re pleased to announce the addition of Amy Burdick to our team of EMDR trained therapists. Amy has an MS in Marital and Family Therapy and experience working with anxiety, depression, grief/loss, and life-transition issues. Amy Burdick PhotoShe specializes in working with adolescent girls and trauma. In her practice, Amy is committed to creating a welcoming space where she can partner with individuals, families and couples to move out of pain and conflict and toward a life of fullness and strength. She will be joining us for the last six months of her internship and then as a licensed MFT.
Amy says working with others to help them find happiness, healing and hope is rewarding. “There are so few people in this world that we allow into our stuff,” she says. “So to be invited into those places that are dark or difficult or even feel unwanted by others… it’s a sacred experience.” Participating in the transformation of a person’s life is also a privilege. “When someone comes to a place of health, it’s amazing how that influences the lives around them,” says Amy.
Amy is enthusiastic about adding EMDR therapy to her practice because she has seen how it can help people move through emotional blocks. She also values the way EMDR merges the experiential with a structure by which progress can be observed. “Sometimes the idea of therapy can feel abstract,” she says. “When we feel stuck or scared or confused the EMDR process helps us see we actually have an end goal and how we can get there. That’s encouraging!”
With over 20 years of experience as a therapist and life coach, Kay is currently a private practitioner working with a broad range of clients. As an EMDR certified therapist and an EMDR consultant, she has completed several thousand EMDR sessions with clients, and has seen significant results from this area of therapy as people resolve stress, anxiety and trauma as well as focus on enhancing peak performance.