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.
I hope you have a beautiful spring!
Hoping is Not a Hopeless Endeavor
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 ingrained 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.